Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chek Jawa Walk on 15 April 2009

It's been a few months since I last guided at Chek Jawa, due to my tight schedule. The last time I signed up to help with the guiding, it rained very heavily and the walk was cancelled, and thus I was really glad that the weather was fine today.

I guided the group with JL, the man who brought Chek Jawa to the attention of scientists and volunteers, and I have certainly learned quite a few new things about guiding and the organisms found at Chek Jawa from him :)

Green-crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)
One of the first few animals we saw was this Green-crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella). This stunning green lizard is a native animals, and blends into the surrounding very nicely. I'm always amazed by the way that it stretches its legs in all directions - it's definitely the "yoga master" in the animals world! :P

Orange Fiddler Crabs (Uca vocans)
As we walk along the boardwalk, we saw lots of Orange Fiddler Crabs (Uca vocans). The above are male crabs, each with an enlarged claw. The big claw is used for hunting or attacking predators, but for attracting females.

We had to climb down the floating pontoon to get to the intertidal area.

Tube Anemone
The first thing which caught my attention when we got down was this Tube Anemone (Order Ceriantharia). This animal filters plankton and tiny organic particles from the water to feed on. They come in various colours, and thus they were sometimes also called Peacock Anemones.

Sand Star (Astropecten sp.)
A Sand Star (Astropecten sp.) was found just next to the ladder. This sea star can burrow, and feeds on small snails and clams. It is quite common on our northen shores, and I sometimes see hundreds of them during my trips.

Orange-striped Hermit Crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus)
The Orange-striped Hermit Crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus) is a huge hermit crab commonly found among seagrass habitats in Singapore. Like other hermit crabs, it has a soft and long abdomen, which is why it needs to hide it in an empty shell.

Sea Cucumber
A few sea cucumbers were spotted, including the slimy sea cucumber above which we were still not sure of the ID, and also the Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra).

Sand Bubbler Crab (Scopimera sp.)
On the sandbar, there were lots and lots of sand balls made by Sand Bubbler Crabs (Scopimera sp.). This crab feeds on tiny organic particles on the sand, and the processed sand was discard in the form of small sand balls. It usually will not venture to far from its burrow, in case there are predators so that it can quickly run and hide in side.

Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis)
I was quite happy to see this Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis) laying eggs! This is a good sign that our shores are still very much alive and the conditions must be right - that's why the organisms are reproducing.

Delek Air (Memecylon edule)
After making one round around the sand bar, we left the intertidal area for the Mangrove Boardwalk, and saw that the wild Delek Air (Memecylon edule) in the coastal forest are blooming with pretty bluish-purple flowers!

Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans)
At the edge of the mangrove were the Nipah Palms (Nypa fruticans). I used to live in a kampong when I was young, and the house I lived in had roofs from Nipah leaves, otherwise also called Attap leaves. The fruit of this palm also gives us the attap chee we get in the ice kacang desert.

Tumu Putih (Bruguiera sexangula)
The Tumu Putih (Bruguiera sexangula) is very rare in Singapore, and Nparks have planted a few trees at Chek Jawa. The bigger seedling that I saw during my previous trip here was gone though, but I still see a few of the smaller ones.

We soon ended the guided walk, and fortunately, it only started raining then!

After the walk, RH and I took the bumboat back to Mainland Singapore.

On reaching Changi Point Ferry Terminal, we saw this huge prawn swimming near the water surface, and it appeared to be gathering the fallen stems of Casuarina Trees (Casuarina equisetifolia). Why is it doing this? Hmm...

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