Thursday, February 28, 2008

Last Dive before Exams!

This is possibly one of my last dive in the lab, at least before the exams. This is the first time I actually had an UW camera where I can snap all I want! O... how regretful I am for missing all those chances.

Took abit of tweaking in Photoshop, but obviously I'm still not good at it. The colors underwater are mostly green and blue, since they are the shortest wavelengths in the visible light spectrum and thus can travel further into the water column. Yes, this picture is taken in Singapore!

For those who think our waters are devoid of life, they are soo wrong. True, its rather turbid due to high sedimentation because of our country's endless pursue in increasing land area, but still life goes on underwater.

Picture perfect clownfishes. There are three on this sea anemone.

Sea Urchin. Divers beware! It can even penetrate through our wetsuits!

Copperband butterflyfish sucking on coral polyps?

A featherstar, resting on a boulder coral. They come in all sorts of beautiful colors, purple, yellow, green, red etc etc... I wonder if they represent different species or just a color variation.

This Giant Clam, Tridacna squamosa about half a metre, opened its mantle to photosynthsize.

I will even miss Lionel's resident filefish, which nibbled on my finger twice and the territorial damselfishes that pulled my hair. :)

Pictures by me and lionel

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Bird and the Spider

Was relaxing at Kent Ridge looking at birds, after diving when an Olive-Back Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis flew in front of me, just a 3 metres away. It hovered about before flying off and coming back again for three more times before I realised what was happening.

It was either attacking or kept bumping on the web of a golden orb spider, Nephila antipodiana. For a moment I thought that the bird might get entangled on the web. Dingli shared with me that Nephila spiders do prey on birds which unknowningly got trapped on their webs.

But I guess probably the former since it looks to me as if it was poking at the web. Although they feed mainly on nectar, part of their diet includes insects and the big Nephila might look like a relishing meal. Whatever the reason, it gave up what it was doing and flew off shortly.

Update~ Budak suggested that the sunbird might be collecting the spider silk to make its nest.

Also saw some new birds for me to tick off my checklist! Blue-tailed bee-eater, Asian brown flycatcher, Dollarbird.

Thanks Dingz and Budak for the input and ID

Dancing Crabs

Two crabs dancing Tango.

But one tripped, and fell on its partner....

Crab ID pending....
For those who actually believed what I said above, they are fighting not dancing ;p

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Flower picking

Woke up early on Sat morning, (ok, maybe 9am is not early to some ;p) so decided to go cycle around the neighbourhood. Took my camera along in hope that I can get some nice pictures along Sungei Serangoon.

Indeed I wasn't disappointed, many birds are up early too, saw the little egrets, sandpipers, purple herons, great herons etc. Many others, I'm sure, are hiding somewhere from my view.

Got a great view of the Grey Heron perching on a small tree, preening itself in the sun. Somehow, for no reason, at least to me, it started to flapped it wings about...

And start harvesting those morning glory flowers around it! lol, is it for a special someone?

Heres one in its mouth.

And another. I wonder why its doing it. It appears to be getting rid of those flowers. Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tuas Marshlands

An initial plan to go Sungei Buloh was changed to the Tuas marshlands; the enticement was to hard for me to resist, even though I was busy doing some assigments. Thanks Ron for telling me of this change or I would have miss this trip, and LK for organising!

I first read about this place through BESG blog when they announced the reclamation of this site to give way to a racing course for bikers. Subsequently, another more recent entry of LK's trip on the Red-wattled Lapwing.

One of the first photos I took before we reach the wetlands the ground orchid, Spathoglottis plicata. Its name probably says it all, being able to grow from the ground rather than being epiphytic like most orchids.

Today was actually a trip for LK's student to do their dragonfly study. This picture will explain why theres so many dragonflies around.

They live around wetlands because their larvae are aquatic. Above shows a damselfly nymph, a close relative to the dragonflies. The three spikes on the back are their exposed gills, one characteristic to differentiate them from dragonfly nymphs.

A lesson from LK, female dragonflies can release their eggs prematurely when stressed, probably as a strategy that at least they might have a chance of surviving if the mother is caught by a predator. The green ooze are the egg clumps.

LK told us that the Nannophya pygmaea dragonfly is one of the smallest, I think in Singapore. Not sure if its the smallest in the world though. The above is a male. The female has white and yellow strips on the abdomen, can see from my new flickr acc :)

I didnt take many pictures of dragonflies, so hang on for Ron and others for their entry. But think after today and looking through some of my photos, think must agree that they are a great subject for photography :D

What a wonderland this place is for pitcher plants! The slender pitcher Nepenthes gracilis was just all over the entire marshlands. Even this beautiful red color variant above is in such an abundance. These pitchers are the ground pitchers, and easily differentiated from its more pronounced "wings" or fringes running down from the lid, probably as a guide for insects to crawl in to their death.

Heres a picture of the upper pitchers.

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants (prob everyone knows that) and they secrete nectar to lure their prey into a pit of digestive juices. But some (lazy) animals make use of this lure to capture food for themselves, like the crab spider above, that lives exclusively in pitchers. Not sure of the ID though, does anyone knows?

LK showed us another carnivorous plant, the bladderwort (Utricularia gibba). I had heard of this for sometime, but never had the chance to see it till now. The tiny filaments of this aquatic plant carries many nodes or "bladders" (the black dots seen on the finger) which are able to trap tiny animals for its own nutrition.

And the reclamation works which are already being carrying out. Part of the race track is already accessible as we saw bikers playing round the obstacles in the near vicinity. Its pretty sad that to imagine such a wonderful habitat will be gone soon, together will all the pitcher plants, bladderworts, orchids, dragonflies and another habitat for the birds.

Read more about this amazing place from JL, R and Sm's blogs.

Friday, February 8, 2008

CNY @ Hantu

My first trip to Pulau Hantu, aka the Ghost Island in Malay, with Ria and gang. Heres some interesting little critters we found at the intertidals.

The Soldier Crab (Dotilla myctiroides) is a rather peculiar crab to me, with its pincers hunched over its shoulders like a praying mantis. Its common name comes from its massive swarms of crabs like armies of soldiers but sadly such occurence is not seen here in Sg (Ron corrected that he seen this at cyrene reef). But heres an example, and u will understand what I meant.

There were lots of common seastars (Archaster typicus) in Hantu! Just look at the number of footprints (or rather, starprints) they left behind. Although dubbed as "common", it is sadly not as common now. Hence, it is heartening to see so many of them around in Pulau Hantu

Finally got a picture of the clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) on a sea anemone. This is definitely one of the most famous cited examples of mutualism with the anemone giving it protection with its stinging cells while the fish is known to help luring prey to it. Less known of the fish is that it is protrandus, meaning it starts off as a male and later changes sex to a female.

A special find by Ron, this is actually a nudibranch (Dendrodoris tuberculosa). And its huge! Far larger then anyone I have ever seen.

A strikingly red featherstar (Class: Crinoidea), rather timely for this festive season. They are not commonly found in intertidals but at deeper waters but we found 4 of them! These animals are suspension feeders that uses their outstretched feathery arms (and mucus) to capture food and transport to their central mouth.

There are many genera of corals around at hantu, especially the huge leathery soft corals that scattered the intertidal zone. But I have a particular liking to Acropora (above), with its nice distinct axial polyps. But this genus thrives in pristine environments, thus not commonly found here.

Synatid sea cucumber (Synaptula sp.). This sea cucumber are very much elongated then their fellow cousins.

Here are some other colorful animals we saw on that day.

Some more entries from KS & JL
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