Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Animals in My Blog Template

Here are the animals used in my top banner :)

1 & 2. Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) & Gigantic Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).

The above photo was taken on Big Sisters Island. Not sure why, but have been seeing more nemos at our intertidal areas recently. The nemo enjoys a very special relationship with the anemone. The anemone has stinging cells in its tentacles, which it uses to sting it preys that happen to wander near it. Thus, the anemone is also able to protect the nemo from predators, and provides it with left-over food. The nemo, being very territorial, also protects the anemone from anemone-feeding fishes and cleans it up by eating the left-overs.

3. Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)

The above knobbly sea star was one of the "regulars" on Semakau Landfill. Knobbly sea stars are among the biggest sea stars that can be found in our waters! A sea star uses sea water instead of blood to support its body and to move around, so don’t take them out of water too long, as it is very stressful for them. Sea stars are also able to regenerate broken arms, provided that the central disc is not damaged.

4. Spider Conch (Lambis lambis)

We found this lovely spider conch on St John's Island. This pretty snail is less common these days, probably because many were collected for the cooking pot previously. Can you see two stalks sticking out on the right side? Those are its eyes! A spider conch will usually look around to check for possible dangers before it exposes it meaty foot. It also has a long trap door and it uses it like a pole-vaulter for hopping around!

5. Fanworm (Sabellastarte indica)

I saw the above fanworm on Semakau Landfill. Fanworms live in tubes, and have feathery fans stuck on their heads. The fan is used to filter edible particles in the water so that the worm can feed on them.

6. Sunflower Mushroom Coral (Heliofungia actiniformis)

Also found the above on Semakau Landfill, this is a free-living coral and is not attached to the substrate! Furthermore, the above coral is one single animal, unlike most corals that live in a colony. Corals get their colours from the symbiotic algae (called zooxanthallae) that live in them. The algae also provide the coral with additional nutrients from photosynthesis.

7. Seahorse (Hippocampus kuda)

We found this cute little yellow seahorse at Changi beach. Do you know that a seahorse is actually a fish? Male seahorses have a pouch, and the female seahorse will lay her eggs in it. Thus, if you see a seahorse that looks like it’s pregnant, it is probably the papa!

8. Orange Fiddler Crab (Uca vocans)

This orange fiddler crab photo was taken at Chek Jawa. It's a male fiddler crab, and they normally have one enlarged pincer, which was mainly used to attract females and to intimidate rival males. They feed with their small pincers on edible particles on the sand.

9. Flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.)

A flatworm is so-named because it is very flat! We found the above on Semakau Landfill as well. Being so flat, flatworms can easily get into tiny crevices to find preys and also to escape from predators.

10. Land Hermit Crab (probably Coenobita rugosus)

I found the above land hermit crab on my very first trip to Little Sisters Island. Had initially thought it's a C. cavipes, but after double-checking on one of the online ID guides, it's more likely to be C. rugosus instead. Guess the next time I'll have to really check on the spot to confirm instead of trying to ID using photos.

Unlike the crabs we eat which have a hard shell over their entire bodies, hermit crabs have a long soft abdomen. Only the front part of the hermit crab's body is protected by a hard shell. To protect its soft butt, a hermit crab needs to tuck it into an empty snail shell. As they grow older, they will need to find bigger shells. So don't pick up shells when you are at the beach! For every shell you pick, you could be depriving a hermit crab of a home, and they will have to run around naked, thus becoming easy meals for their predators!

But sadly, land hermit crabs are getting rarer these days. Am really worried that there may be poachers who are poaching them, and eventually, our future generations will not get to see wild hermit crabs on our shores again...

11. Orange-spotted Nudibranch (Gymnodoris rubropapulosa)

The above photo was also taken at Semakau Landfill. This nudibranch feeds on other slugs, including their potential mating partners! Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, and thus they have both male and female reproductive organs. They normally try to fertilise each other as they mate. In the case of this species of nudibranch, they will attempt to eat each other as well! The survivor will become the mother, and it usually dies soon after the eggs are laid.

12. Featherstar (Class Crinoidea)

Can you find the featherstar in the banner? It was actually used as the background, and thus you will be able to see some feathery thing in the background. This particular featherstar was found on my first predawn trip to Chek Jawa. This is also a filter feeder, and it will wave its "feathery" arms to catch any edible particles floating in the water!

And so, the above are the 12 animals I used in my banner.

On my side bar, 3 other animals were used for the background as well.

1. Juvenile Biscuit Star (Goniodiscaster scaber)

Found the above on Beting Bronok, stranded on the sand.

2. Heart Cockle (Corculum cardissa)

Found this on Semakau Landfill. While most other clams have their valves flatten like plates, this clam has its opening of the valves cutting across the centre of the 'heart'! Some people collect this shell while it is still alive, kill it and make the shells into little gifts. It's just so ironical that the so-called "token of love" was made in such a cruel manner.

3. Brown Egg Crab (Atergatis floridus)

While the above crab can be easily found in Singapore, the above photo was taken on Pulau Tioman. this crab is poisonous, and you may die from eating it!

And so, these are all the animal featured in my blog template! :)

They are some of the animals that we get to see on our local shores every now and then. But due to diminishing habitats, poaching, and irresponsible fishing, many of them are facing extinction. In say another 20 years time, will we still be able to find them on our shores?

I certainly hope that more Singaporeans will be better educated in environmental and conservation issues, and will play a more active role in helping to ensure that these wonderful wildlife stay on our shores!

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