Aug 30, 2007

Pulau Semakau with CNN

Another early start this morning. This time to Pulau Semakau to share the rich shores there with CNN which is doing a programme on sustainable development. They intend to showcase the landfill as an example of how biodiversity can co-exist with urban living if the proper care and consideration is given to construction and operation.

Ron has kindly agreed to use up his precious leave to be the 'Guide', while Mary and Chris from NEA were his 'visitors'. YC and Liana again made time to be with the team, to help find things and also introduce the marine life there. Shawn from NEA is also with us, which is fabulous as he's really good at finding things. And what a lovely surprise! Senior Semakau officers Mr Ong and Mr Loo also came along for the trip.

Almost as soon as we arrived on the shore at daybreak, we found mating Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) on the sandy shore! Ron shares more about these animals that sadly, are no longer common elsewhere in Singapore.We quickly moved out to the reef edge to catch the tide before it turned.

YC soon found the big red Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus). Ron shares about it on camera, while Mr Ong and Mr Loo join in to have a closer look.Shortly after, Ron finds another of these big sea stars, and YC finds a brown one too!

Ron then introduces the hard and soft corals at the reef edge.And there are stunning specimens of some rarely seen corals.Besides Acropora corals, and Galaxy corals ...
... there were also lots of brain and boulder corals of various sizes, colours and patterns. As well as mushroom corals, and the weird soft corals that look like surgical gloves and fried eggs, and much much more.

Ron brings us to see a very nice Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa). YC takes over to explain it as he knows lots about these magnificent animals.

Our giant clams are sadly listed among our threatened animals, mainly due to habitat loss. Pulau Semakau is one of our few reefs where they are still found.

Shawn finds an octopus!It was stranded on the dry sand so we put it into a pool. Whereupon we noticed some of its tentacles seem to have been bitten off. It then inked! Probably as it was really scared. We moved it to a new pool where it seemed happier.

Shawn also found a bright orange-spotted gymnodoris nudibranch, while Liana found a blue-and-white flatworm!Poor Ron had to work very hard throughout the trip. At the end of it all, he was thoroughly interviewed by Constance of CNN.Meanwhile, the rest of us got into Nem Mode.

We looked at the beautiful Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmea quadricolor).And a gathering of Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica).Alas, neither had any anemonefishes.

Liana spotted a cluster of weird looking 'nem-things. They were about 15cm wide, very large for a corallimorph. We think they might be Pizza anemones (Cryptodendron sp.) that we usually see all squished up. These could be what they look like when they're expanded? Wow!

And everywhere, as if to taunt us, were the Condy-nots.We were supposed to be looking for these anemones for Dr Daphne at Labrador today, but rescheduled due to the sudden visit by CNN.

Finally, Captain Anemone couldn't stand it anymore and nabbed this pretty one.YC is really good at it and all by himself, managed to get an entire, unbroken specimen! Dr Daphne will be very pleased as she really wanted a complete specimen.

On the way back, we saw a Noble volute laying eggs, and a pair of mating Mangrove horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda). Ron explains more about these strange and endangered animals, which are still commonly seen on Pulau Semakau.All in all, I think we managed to show the best side of Pulau Semakau given the short trip. All thanks to the help of the hunter-seekers who found lots of interesting things so that we could film them without trampling all over the delicate shores. And of course to Ron for sharing the wonders of Semakau in his inimitable style, even at 6am in the morning!

Despite having to guide, Ron still found the time to take photos! See his tidechaser blog for some of the many animals we saw today.


YC said...

i gathered from the marine lab, the giant clam was probably replanted by DHI there. so much for natural remaining ones left. Alot of the rest were poached too it seems. This one seemed to be the lucky one. Lets hope it isnt the only one there!

ria said...

Oh dear, that's really disturbing to know.

Yes, let's hope it is spared from poaching.