Journey of all sorts :D

Packing time!

Posted in Daily life by Aggy on June 29, 2009

It’s time to pack as I will be away for a 4D3N camp from tomorrow to Friday.

NUS RAC CAMP! or Rovers adventure camp 09′.

Can’t wait for it… kinda excited actually.

Although it is planned for NUS freshies… it is opened to the public as well. Since I’m not from NUS and don’t have a chance to participate in their orientation camps… this is a good opportunity! Haha but I also enjoyed their Datuk hiking trip previously that’s why I signed up for this.

Amazing race, night cycling, kayaking, Pulau Ubin… wow sounds great! Although I’m not good at sports, who says non-sporty people can’t be adventurous? :P

My group will be Erebus, which stands for Underworld if I’m not wrong lol

I’ve less than a month left in Singapore so I better enjoy myself! My mum has been wondering where I get my energy from…  going out every other day. I’d say it’s better than staying and rotting at home everyday.

:)

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Semakau 27.6.09

Posted in Guided walks by Aggy on June 29, 2009

Since this will be my 2nd last Semakau trip until (maybe?) next year as I’m going abroad for further studies and that I’ve to pack my bag later for camp tomorrow, this will be an entry with more photos :)

Warning: Scroll down slowly, read bit by bit. You’ll know why I say so later on.

morning sky

The 4th and last Semakau guided walk of June started off nicely with this scenery in the morning…

ship

Black smoke and ship.

photographers

There were quite a number of photography enthusiasts among our participants for this guided walk :)

sunrise and pulau jong

The sun had just risen behind Pulau Jong aka Bao Island, which is close to Pulau Semakau.

map

Semakau Landfill is situated in the southern part of Singapore and the boat passes Sentosa en route to Semakau from Marina South Pier.

creeper snails

As we walk along the sandy shore, there were many many creeper snails everywhere creating maze-like patterns in the sand. These snails’ feet produce mucus to help them move around.

seahorses

Crossing the seagrass lagoon, the 5 Seahorses with their wacky poses were about to embark on a ‘better than Underwater world’  journey…  :P

synaptid sea cucumber

The first sea cucumber found during that day was the synaptid sea cucumber. This sea cucumber is very delicate as it has a thin body wall and is not edible. It uses its feeding tentacles (bottom left corner of photo above) to ‘sweep’ around to collect food.

moon snail and sand collar

Perhaps, this moon snail (right) had just laid her eggs. The moon snail’s eggs are contained in the sand collar (left) so although it may not look ‘alive and kicking’, there’s actually plenty of tiny snails inside waiting to hatch!

nudi 1

Our hunter-seekers found the lined chromodoris nudibranch (Chromodoris lineolata) . At first, I spotted one lonely soul.

nudi 2

Then came another one in the opposite direction… ! Before you scroll down this page, what do you think they were planning to do? Is it……………

nudi 3

A) Greet and smooch?

or…

nudi 4

B) Cheek smooch

Answer: They did A then B. hahaha! << highlight for answer

The nudibranch, which refers to naked gills, is a sea slug. They use the flowery-like gills on their backs to breathe. The two rabbit-like ears that you see on the front are rhinophores, which help them to sniff for prey in the waters. Nudibranchs are also colourful, to warn others that they are dangerous and distasteful to eat.

heart cockle

The front (left) convex side and back (right) flat side of the pretty heart cockle. Apparently, the heart cockle is a hermaphrodite which means it has both male and female reproductive organs! Having a pretty shell has its downside… people collect them… alive! It is only when they are alive that both shells stay together but take them out of their habitat and they will die. So what’s the best alternative? Admire them from photographs and leave them at peace.

upside down jellyfish

Benefiting from algae is the upside-down jellyfish. The side that you see in this photograph is the bottom side of the jellyfish that is exposed to sunlight. Basically, this upside-down jellyfish harbours symbiotic algae among its tentacles as the latter photosynthesizes and provides food for the former. In return, the symbiotic algae receives shelter and protection.

fan worm

One can spot fan worms in tidal pools as these shy animals spread their pretty fan-like tentacles in the water for filter-feeding. Details of their tentacles can be seen in the photo on the right.

spider conch

Looking at us precariously was this spider conch, with its long stalk eyes and curved knife-like opercuclum out of its shell. The latter helps the spider conch to ‘hop on the ground and flip itself back to its original position when placed upside down. The spines at the side also aid in stabilisation, thus preventing them from falling over.

This snail is a beauty but vulnerable as people catch them for food and its shell!

hard coral

With the tentacles all out in the water, this disk or turban coral (turbinaria peltata <- edit: Thanks Siyang for ID) is a hard coral due to its calcium carbonate structure below.

nudis

After the lined Chromodoris nudibranch, we also saw 3 other nudis: (from left to right)
Pustulose phyllid nudibranch, Black-margined glossodoris nudibranch, Black phyllid nudibranch

cushion star

Beside the nudibranchs that the hunter-seekers found for us was a huge cushion sea star!

hairy crab

As we headed back to the seagrass lagoon area, we managed to see this hairy crab aka teddy bear crab. It is poisonous and not edible, different from the hairy crab that we get to eat in Chinese restaurants.

grey clouds

A picture tells a thousand words.

The wind was blowing rather strongly at that time and although I kept praying for good weather as I took this picture, I can’t help but feel this provided some respite from the hot sun earlier on during the walk.


My last Semakau walk this year will be in July. Will I get the chance to do hunter-seeking? *prays*

Haha we’ll see. Otherwise, it will be my last time guiding and giving the landfill tour. *tears*

nostalgia ;)

Semakau 26.6.09

Posted in Guided walks by Aggy on June 28, 2009

After 2 exploratory trips early in the previous mornings, it was the 3rd day waking up early. Nevertheless, I looked forward to guiding the Stingrays :)

sunrise on board boat

On board the boat, we were greeted by the ever so effervescent yellow sun which never fails to get everyone to take photos.

stingrays crossing

Here are the ‘Stingrays’ crossing the seagrass lagoon, which is an important place for juvenile animals to seek food, shelter and protection from predators. The  ‘dead path’ that they cross has been specially designated, so as to minimize damage to the surrounding flora and fauna.

cowrie

One of the first animals we saw after crossing the seagrass lagoon was the ovum cowrie (Cypraea ovum). The shell of a cowrie is shiny and smooth to touch because the cowrie uses its mantle (part of the body) to enclose the shell. This helps to protect itself from animals and algae. Unfortunately like many snails with pretty shells, they are threatened by collectors.

I strongly discourage shell-collecting as you’re either inadvertently taking the cowrie away from its habitat or a home from the hermit crab!!

sea stars mating

A pair of common sea stars was mating and we can see them alternating their arms. The male which is usually smaller, is on top of the larger female and they release the sperm and eggs simultaneously into the water so that there is a higher chance of pro-creating.

moon snail front & back

Never judge a book by its cover!
… What I mean of course is this oval moon snail hiding in its shell. The picture on the left shows the top of the shell whereas the one on the right shows the foot of the snail.

Pretty but ferocious, it actually eats other snails! It suffocates the prey with its foot and sometimes before the prey can even come up to breathe, it secretes acid to soften the shell and uses its tongue-like radula to create a hole to feed.

knobbly

The knobbly sea star aka chocolate chip because the knobs on the body looks like it. These sea stars come in other colours such as red and orange and can grow up to about 30cm. Sea stars require seawater to regulate around their bodies so we should try our best to not take them out of the water for too long.

ribbon worm

Moving at its own pace, albeit rather slowly is this long ribbon worm. It is venomous and delicate so do not ever touch or handle them!

turban snail

The ‘cat’s eye’ of this sea snail never fails to intrigue me. With its beautiful colour, some coastal communities use them as buttons or to make jewellery. However, this ‘cat’s eye’ acts like a door for the turban shell. This helps to protects itself from predators while the body is retracted into the shell.

giant clam

Have you ever watched cartoons and saw clams clipping people’s fingers?!

━━Σ(゜Д゜|||)━━ !!       << Japanese emoticon for being shocked

Fear not, for that will not happen. Even at low tide (as seen from the photo above) the shell of this giant fluted clam does not close completely and you can see part of the mantle being exposed. The wavy structure makes it perhaps slippery and difficult for predators to climb in, thus deterring them to feed on the flesh of the clam.

heart cockle

It was a pleasant surprise to see this slightly pinkish heart cockle. The shell opens from ‘the centre of the heart’ and you are looking at the convex side in this photo.

flower crab

The Stingrays also got to see the moult of the flower crab. The sharp pincers help the crab to hunt for prey and defend itself when it senses danger. And yes… you can cook and eat a flower crab. Our local zi char stalls should have them.

kim meiyi ag

I took a photo with fellow Semakau guides :D – Kim and Meiyi – at the southern tip of Singapore that the public can access. In the background of the photo above, you may be able to spot these 2 islands (below).

raffles lighthse and viola

Raffles lighthouse on the left and Pulau Viola (or violin) on the right. The southern-most point of Singapore, Raffles lighthouse… I’ve always wanted to go there for an exploratory trip. Hopefully my dream can come true next month! :)

exploratory trips

Posted in Exploratory trips by Aggy on June 25, 2009

Yesterday it was Changi, today it’s Beting Bronok (BB).

Here’s what I saw at Beting Bronok, 25 June 2009 (from what I remember):
– Pencil sea urchin
– Gong gong
– Spiny sea star
– Sand star
– Knobbly sea star
– Cake sea star
– Biscuit sea star
– Brittle star
– Hairy sea hare
– Elbow crab
– Sponge crab
– Spider crab
– Swimming crab
– Velcro crab
– Flowery pot coral
Bushy slug
– Onyx cowrie
– Blue dragon nudibranch
Yellow foot nudibranch
Cuthona nudibranch
– Bohol nudibranch
– Morray eel
– Thorny sea cucumber
– Smooth sea cucumber
– Purple sea cucumber
– Sandfish sea cucumber
– Glass anemone
– Carpet anemone
– Spotted black flatworm
– Purple-spotted yellow flatworm
– File fish
Baler volute aka Melo melo
– Noble volute
– Sponge
– Window pane shell
– Fan shell
– Mussel
– Octopus
Copperband butterflyfish
– File fish
– Cat fish
– Sea pen
– Hydriods
– Sea squirt

Samson also saw many seahorses, which we didn’t see as we were on another side.

———–

Below are some videos I took during the exploratory trips at places such as Changi beach, Beting Bronok (BB) and Pulau Hantu. Sorry about the quality… they are amateur videos :)

Spider crab at Changi *listen to the audio*

Gong gong at BB *flip flip flip!*

Flatworm at Hantu *swimming*

———–

Will probably blog about Changi and BB in more detail later this week with photos!

For now, I must turn in as there’s Semakau guided walk the next morning.

Ciao!

1 month

Posted in Daily life, Exploratory trips by Aggy on June 24, 2009

In exactly 30 days, I will be leaving Singapore for studies overseas.

Wow, time pass really fast! I will miss Singapore. I also look forward to adapting in a foreign land too!

I will miss…

The food here.
Channel 5, OKTO and 987fm.
My family and friends.
My nature walks.
My room.
My remaining clothes, bags and shoes that I’ve to leave behind.
My cabinet of CDs and DVDs.
The sounds and sights I’m used to.

But wherever I am, I will still see the same sun, the same moon, and hopefully more stars and planets.

I think I will really miss my friends… Facebook isn’t enough.

It’s like the difference between shopping in a mall and shopping online.

Which is why I hope to write letters, cards or postcards to my friends! :)
Web-camming on Skype too!

————

Today was one of the lowest tides we have this year and the 3 of us: KS, SY and I went to Changi for exploratory walk. My first time exploring Changi intertidal area! It was a nice trip, saw many things including pretty anemones and beautiful sea fans. The sea fans were really gorgeous!!

I won’t be blogging about Changi just yet because I’ve to sleep and wake up early for yet another exploratory trip later at Beting Bronok, near Pulau Tekong.

Maybe I will blog about it later this week.

For the gorgeous sea fans, can check out KS’s blog entry: Sea fan’s overdose at Changi

Time to go to bed!
zzzz

Durian

Posted in Random! by Aggy on June 22, 2009

June!

It is the durian season.

Just last Saturday, I was in luck and had the chance to eat fresh durian at Pulau Ubin.

It goes like this…
As we were walking along the road, we heard ‘THUD!’. Of course, we could not miss this great opportunity and Ron went to get the durian, cut it open…

And we savoured the delicious durian. Muahahahaha~
Hen did not like durian but alas, she tried a tiny bit too. (she still dislikes durian… uh oh)

Just today, I also ate durian found in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve forest!! Oh my… kampung durian. Singapore durian!

Yummy :P !!!

I want to eat durian with my family before I leave Singapore in about 32 days!

Durian happiness.
Durian cream puff.
Durian, just pure durian.

:)

Posted in Daily life by Aggy on June 19, 2009

Woohoo!

The weekend is drawing near. TGIF!

I should be sleeping soon since I’ve to work later today. I can’t wait to go to Pulau Ubin this Saturday with nature peeps and hopefully, have a chance to eat durians!! :D

I also want to make use of Sunday to start blogging about my long overdue Japan trip.

Side note: Meiyi, focus on getting well soon! We, 4 girls can go travelling another time!

Semakau 12.6.09

Posted in Guided walks by Aggy on June 19, 2009

Last Friday, we had a guided walk at Semakau and I guided the Great Billed Herons for a second time!

Aside from being the tallest bird in Singapore, the great billed heron is also a rare bird here. In fact, a nickname has been given to this resident on Pulau Semakau… Jimmy! Jimmy is a resident breeder, which means it is present throughout the year.

semakau morning view

And the day starts with… there you go… both sun and moon! The sunlight reflected in the clouds :P

taking pics

Herons taking photo of the sunrise peeking behind Pulau Jong in the distance.

herons

Now for a group shot of the Herons while crossing the seagreass lagoon, basking in the morning sun!

The seagrass lagoon is an important place because many juvenile animals seek both shelter and food down there. They can also hide from predators amongst the seagrass.

nudi

The Herons got to see the polka dot nudibranch on that day!
Nudibranchs are sea slugs and from the photo above, it’s the flowery-like gills that are the naked gills which the nudibranchs use to breathe.

Just like how nudibranch refers to naked gills, rhinophores come from two Greek words. Rhino = nose, phore = carrier.

The rhinophores are situated at the front end and act as scent receptors, meaning the nudibranch uses them to sniff for food in the seawater.

flatworm

The spotted black flatworm, flapping its body in the water in order to move/swim around. Flatworms are hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive organs! It is usually more energy-consuming to be the pregnant female so they ‘fight’ to inject sperm into the other party.

Interesting read! >> “It is better to stab than to be stabbed… … “

octopus

Tako たこ Tako たこ

Have you guessed what’s tako? It is octopus in Japanese. The 8-arm master of camouflage. It is also a predator that is able to squeeze through very tiny spaces. The octopus has a well-developed brain and a very good memory. Perhaps, the intelligence of octopuses are as intriguing as that of dolphins.

Humans can be either left or right-handed. Do octopuses have a preference for using one side of the brain? You can check this article out. It is a pretty long article but will let you gain a deeper insight into the intelligence of the octopus.

knobbly

Knobbly sea star aka ‘chocolate chip’ sea star. They can grow up to about 30cm and I’ve seen them in colours such as red, brown, orange!

A fellow guide told me that she once saw these sea stars sold in a shopping mall’s aquarium store and they were not in ‘good condition’, barely surviving in the tank. My heart aches for these knobblys. In the red list of threatened animals of Singapore, knobbly sea stars are being listed as endangered creatures.

group knobbly

The Herons taking a group photo with the two knobbly sea stars. We try our best not to take them out of the water for too long as sea stars use seawater to regulate around their bodies, just like humans have blood.

seahorse

There was also the seahorse, where male seahorses ‘help to share the burden’. The female seahorses deposit the eggs into the pouch of the male seahorses, thus making the male seahorse look ‘pregnant’. In TCM (traditional chinese medicine), the seahorse is considered as an aphrodisiac, which is a sexual stimulant. However, I would recommend someone taking aphrodisiacs to consider ginseng (a herb) as an alternative. Haha.

hairy crab

The hairy crab was spotted by the Herons quite a few times. The name suggests that there’s hair on the body of the crab, which helps to trap sand and sediments, thus helping it to blend in with the surroundings. It is also called ‘teddy bear’ crab due to its fluffy appearance.

noble volute

On the way back, we also saw a noble volute (sea snail) laying its eggs! The pretty shell is hidden by the eggs in this photo, which is collected by people due to the beautiful patterns on the shell. Please refrain from collecting shells!! Each shell you take, you are taking a home away from an animal, such as the hermit crab.

turban shell

Last but not least, we saw a turban snail. When placed upright, the shell resembles a turban, hence the name. Its ‘cat’s eye’ or operculum, is like a door to the home. Some coastal communities use the ‘cat’s eye’ to make buttons or jewellery. The turban snail also feeds on algae and scraps them off the rocks.

It was a first time intertidal walk for many of the Herons and there was even one repeat participant who came for our walks before. That’s great! There will be more walks next week and I hope the participants will also get to enjoy the beauty and biodiversity of Semakau! :)