Monday, August 13, 2007

Field Trip to Pulau Tioman with PJC - An Overview

From 9-12 August 2007, I went to Pulau Tioman with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) on a field trip for a group of Year 1 Biology students from Pioneer Junior College (PJC). I was supposed to help out with the various activities, though my main focus was on the intertidal activities since I'm an intertidal guide.

Being a non-bio student during my school days, the trip proved to an eye-opening experience for me, and I got to find out what the scientists do during their field trips. Of course this field trip was very much an introductory trip, but at least I managed to get a glimpse of how the "real thing" will be like :)

So on National Day, we reached NUS around 5.30am to get the equipment and other things need for the field trip from the museum before heading to the meeting place.

The teachers and students from PJC arrived shortly, and we ready to go!

Here's a shot of the gang during the bus ride.

That's Andrew in front on the left. He was also helping out at the field trip. And on the right we have Ngan Kee, who was the main instructor for the trip. The rest of the RMBR gang includes Luan Keng (the coordinator) and Ooi Yee, who were not in the above photo.

Must say a BIG THANK YOU to Luan Keng for asking me to help out with the field trip. I've certainly learned a lot of things while I was helping out :)

In the second row, we have Gabriel and Patrick (L to R), two of the PJC teachers. Another teacher, Marlyn (hope I got the right spelling) was sitting on the far right, but was blocked in the above photo.

It started raining when we were on the bus, and we were a little worried that it would also be raining at Tioman. But when we reached Tioman around 1 something in the afternoon, it was all clear and sunny. Now, that's the perfect weather for a field trip! :)

The water was quite clear, and we could see lots of corals, fishes and sea urchins. To bad it was a bit windy though, so I didn't managed to take any nice photos. At the back of the resort were tall mountains covered with a thick forest. Blue waters and green mountains... what else do you need for a great trip, except... some little gossips to fill up our free time?

Bumped into CP, SF and D during the boat ride. They were here on a holiday too! And that got us speculating who's attached to who...

Anyway, the weather was great. Here are some wide shots of the island.

The left side with the small island that we can easily access during low tide...

And the right side which we didn't really explore.

We got a sea-view room, and far ahead in the sea were these huge rocks with lots of terns.

Every now and then, we would see the terns flying about, feeding on the fishes in the sea or fleeing from predators like white-bellied sea eagles.

And there're lots of cats in the resort too. And right after we checked into our rooms, a pair of them decided to give us a free R(A) show!

After lunch, we were given an orientation of the area by Ngan Kee. Dr Ng Ngan Kee has been here many times. In fact, just 3 weeks ago, she was here with the NUS Honours students. Found out that NUS has conducted many studies on the various wildlife on the island, and that's probably why they are so familiar with the island.

That's Ngan Kee speaking to the PJC students, with Ooi Yee at the far left.

We eventually ended up at the jetty again having ice kacang.

The jetty was nearer to the rocks with the terns, and I managed to get a shot using 3x zoom and a binoculars. According to Andrew, they were probably black-naped terns (Sterna sumatrana).

After the orientation walk, it was time for real work, and here's what we did for the first three days of the field trip:

Day 1: Intertidal Ecology

We had a lecture on seashore ecology, biodiversity and adaptation after dinner. While I wasn't new to seashore ecology, it was still an interesting lecture to refresh my memory on some of the nature facts. After the lecture, we went out to the intertidal area around 9 plus. Apart from Singapore, the only other places which I'd been to the intertidal area was New Zealand, and thus I was really looking forward to see how it's like on Tioman. And of course, it didn't disappoint me. Saw a number of things that I haven't seen before :)

There were just too many things to share on the intertidal walk, that I'll need to write another entry about it. So do check out my posting on the Intertidal Life of Pulau Tioman for more details!

Day 2: Forests & Mangroves

We started with a walk to see the coastal plants and the terrestrial forest on Day 2. Sadly, the forest was very much disturbed and we did not really see many interesting things. We could probably see more things if we were to really venture much deeper into the mountains, but that may prove too tough for the students, and we also do not really have sufficient time to do that.

Anyway, here are some of the things we saw:

That's the sea lettuce (Scaevola sericea) just by the shore near our rooms, which has really pretty flowers. This plant is also called half-flower at some places, because the flowers have petals on just one side, like a hand fan.

Here's a hoya climber (Hoya sp.) with a ball of flowers a long narrow fruit. You will notice that the leaves are very fat. This is a water-conserving adaptation to the coastal habitat where freshwater is scarce.

We also found a stingless bees' hive. According to Luan Keng, they are important pollinators of fruit trees!

We eventually reached a stream and the students were asked to write a nature journal to reflect on what they have experienced so far, and also to come up with questions on any interesting nature phenomenon they encountered along the way.

On our way back to the resort, we found this praying mantis (Order Mantodea) on a Singapore rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). If you didn't look carefully, it looked just like a twig or dead leaves. What a master of camouflage!

In the evening after dinner, we went to the mangrove for a night walk. I was a little disappointed with the low biodiversity compared to what we can find in Singapore, and hence didn't really take any photos except this cute little crab below.

Have no idea what crab this is though.

If any of the PJC students would like to get a good feel of a mangroves habitat, I will strongly suggest that they pay a visit to either Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves or Chek Kawa Boardwalks.

Day 3: Coral Reef & Freshwater Biodiversity

On Day 3, we went snorkeling at the marine park in the morning, and did a field trip to the freshwater stream in the afternoon. I've done snorkeling at Tioman before, but freshwater field trip is something quite new to me. I enjoyed both sessions greatly, and I'm sure the students enjoyed them too :)

Again, there're too many photos for Day 3, so I've put up a separate proper blog entry for it. Do check out my entry on Coral Reef & Freshwater Life at Tioman.

All too soon, we reached the final day of the trip. It was a free and easy morning.

Here's a group shot of the PJC participants. The RMBR instructors and helpers were not inside though :P

One interesting observation was - there were far more gals than guys on this trip! There are only 4 guys, but 25 gals! These guys are lucky, I have to say...

Talking about luck, we were really lucky that it only started raining during our boat ride back to mainland. Our stay on Tioman was just the sun, the sand and the sea - no rain included! :)

So basically on our bus ride from Singapore to Malaysia, it rained. And on our bus ride from Malaysia to Singapore, it was raining too! Was telling the rest, we came in the rain, and left in the rain. Quite poetic right? :P

See also:
- Intertidal Life of Pulau Tioman
- Coral Reef & Freshwater Life at Tioman


Siyang said...

haha, Ngan Kee was just telling me about u holding metal chopsticks at Tioman. ;p

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Heh heh. Wait for my intertidal entry. Saw quite a lot of interesting stuff :P

Siyang said...

oo...still got part 2... Looking forward.

RachLYM said...

Hello! I'm part of a conservation team from Raffles Girls' Secondary and we are currently trying to convince Mindef to conserve Khatib Bongsu, a natural wetland area in Yishun. We are sourcing for a wide variety of photographs to use but so far, our search is limited. Hence, we would like to request for your permission to use the pictures from your blog. Is this possible? WE can be contacted at Thank you!