Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dead Sea Turtle on St John's Island

In late December last year, I saw one of the Xylocarpus rumphii flowering, and hence decided to go back to take a look today to see if the fruits had matured. After getting some photos, I decided to explore further, when I suddenly heard lots of buzzing sound. It turned out to be a dead sea turtle! It was decomposing rather badly with lots of flies and maggots on it, and was lying on its back. Since I couldn't identify the species with it lying on its back, I decided to turn it over.

From the scutes, it should be an Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)! I had never seen this species before in Singapore, either dead or alive! Correction: Have found out from our local vertebrate expert that the structures on the back are not the scutes, but par tof the skeleton. The scutes had fallen off. This could be a Green Turtle or Hawksbill Turtle.

Here's its original position before I turned it over. The head appeared to be badly damaged. Could it be killed by boat propellers? Seeing this is certainly very, very sad...

Chiton (Acanthopleura gemmata)
Another interesting animal I saw was a Chiton (Acanthopleura gemmata). Interestingly, this appeared to be the same individual I saw in December last year, as it had a little barnacle growing on the left side of its middle plate.

Xylocarpus rumphii
And this was the fruit of the Xylocarpus rumphii, and the main reason I was here today. So far I have seen 4 of these locally critically endangered plant on St John's Island. Not sure if there are more of them.

Xylocarpus rumphii
And one of the them was flowering! So I guess in about 2 months time, it may start fruiting also.

Kemunting (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa)
Right on top of the cliff, I saw a wild Kemunting (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa).

I also saw this plant with little flowers growing on the cliff which I had no idea what it was.

It was a small tree with alternate leaves. The leaves were rather glossy and leathery, meaning it could be a coastal plant. Perhaps any of the plant experts can shed some light on its ID? Update: Thanks for Prof Hugh Tan, this is Chrysobalanus icaco, an exotic plant which has been naturalised here.

It started raining cats and dogs soon and I had to cut short the trip. Did not see a lot of things due to the rain, but it was still a rather memorable trip, though in a rather sad way.


Maxine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine said...

Hi Ron,

I'm Maxine Tan and I represent a group of students from NUS who are required to do an ecology project.

We are planning to go to St John's Island and recee the intertidal zone. We came across your The Tide Chaser blog and saw the many beautiful pictures you have there. We are required to only observe for our project, no modifications to animals or flora are allowed.

We would like enquire the areas we could explore and the type of organisms we could expect to find there (perhaps the more common ones that are easily observable?), and what organism you think would be best for observation in context of our project. The purpose of the project is to ask a question related to an organism, make observations and draw a conclusion from these observations. The last time I went there (quite long ago) I saw many starfish.

We have tried searching for the St. John's Island tide table, but were unsuccessful. If possible, could you provide us with one, or tell us what times are lowest tide during weekends?

Hope to hear from you soon! and thanks in advance.


tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Hey Maxine, sorry for the late response. Can you drop me an email at ronyeo@gmail.com?