Apr 29, 2008

Super Star of Cyrene has a name!

Just heard from Sijie that the Star of Cyrene has been tentatively identified as Pentaceraster mammillatus by Dr. David Lane. Sijie adds in his updated nature scouter blog entry:

Its distribution is that of Indian Ocean, but apparently with its appearance in Singapore, it has expanded its range. It is usually found in lower eulittoral and deeper region, on sand and seagrasses. However, the taxonomy of this group has some uncertainties, with gradations between species, possible hybrids and a closely related form living in the Philippines region.
Some of the volunteers have been calling it the Black Evil Star, because it is so different from our more commonly seen lovable cuddly Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus).The Special Star has a much more regular pattern and is dark so I guess it does appear rather sinister compared to the bright red and rather cartoon-like Knobbly.It's the first record of Pentaceraster on Singapore's shores so this suggests Cyrene Reef is a special place. We're all very excited by this! Bravo!

Nature Photography at Sungei Buloh by Jeremy Ang

I spent a delightful afternoon at Jeremy Ang's talk on nature photography.Jeremy is a fabulous photographer and so far I've only seen glimpses of his wonderful work.

He covered lots of issues including what's there to shoot at Sungei Buloh (LOTS, and not just birds). As well as how to be a good nature photographer. Not just to take good photos, but also to take good care of our nature places.
We then gawked at wondrous images of long-legged beauties. (These grabbed shots by a dinky camera like a bad video pirate operator don't do justice to Jeremy's wonderful work. So please ignore poor quality of these blogged photos.)

Jeremy emphasised the role of bird photography in better understanding our birds. For example, he encouraged photographers to share with Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve any photographs of birds with flags or rings.Such photographic records will allow a better understanding of the birds at the Reserve. So don't just take a pretty photo but understand the subject and share the photos!

Besides beautiful photos of shorebirds in action, and raptors in flight and all kinds of other birds, Jeremy also shared photos of SEX! Monitor lizards as well as this menage d'trois of Atlas moths.There were also photos of snakes eating all kinds of things including Jeremy's subject, a frog!

Not forgetting our favourite marine creatures such as the Amazing Mud Lobster!There's a story behind this (and the other photos) that you'll just have to ask Jeremy to tell you himself.

My second favourite photo is this bashful little colourful fiddler crab!Of course my all time favourite were his photos of Smooth Otters at the Reserve!He enthralled with stories of otter sightings as recent as last Friday! And antics of the otters including the odd habit of rolling about in sand after a swim, including rubbing their faces in the sand. (Some of us ladies in the audience think it might be some kind of otter exfoliation treatment.)Also stories of how they hunt and interact in a family and more.

Wow! Aren't our shores and mangroves simply amazing!

Thank you Jeremy for a wonderful afternoon of photos, stories and thoughts about nature.

And we all hope we see MORE of your photos online SOON! (hint hint)

More otter photos by Jeremy on the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve website.

Here's Jeremy checking out Shufen's photos after the talk.

Works on new Sentosa Bridge: MPA notices

PORT MARINE NOTICE NO. 89 OF 2008 28 Apr 08

Resorts World at Sentosa – Construction of a New Bridge from Singapore Island to Sentosa

With effect from 01 May 08 to 31 Oct 08, at Selat Sengkir.

New bridge construction works will entail steel pipe piling, drilling and socketing of piles and removal of rocks from pile locations. Crane and work barges will be used for the piling works and transportation of equipment. Barges will travel through the Selat Sengkir water to the working area. Barges are expected to travel in/out of the Selat Sengkir water up to 4-6 times a week for material delivery and equipment transportation. A safety boat will be deployed to advise all craft to keep clear of the working area. Further enquires relating to the project can be directed to Mr Chris Kelly, the project manager, at Tel: 9118 2802, email: chris_kelly@macdow.com.au .
from PORT MARINE NOTICE NO. 90 OF 2008 28 Apr 08

Proposed Resorts World at Sentosa: The New Bridge; Widening of the Existing Causeway and
Causeway Extension Works

With effect from 01 May 08 to 31 Oct 08, at Cruise Bay, off Sentosa.

Widening works will entail steel pipe piling and removal of existing revetment. Crane barges and work barges will be used for the piling works and transportation of equipment. A safety boat will be deployed to advise all craft to keep clear of the working area. Further enquires relating to the project can be directed to Mr Chris Kelly, the project manager, at Tel: 9118 2802, email: chris_kelly@macdow.com.au .

Reclamation at Pulau Tekong: MPA notice

from PORT MARINE NOTICE NO. 92 of 2008 29 Apr 08

This is a revision of Port Marine Notice No. 176 of 2007 (extract in this wildfilms post). The working period has been extended. With effect from 29 May 08 to 28 Nov 08, Off Pulau Tekong.

24 hours daily including Sundays and Public Holidays.

Reclamation works at Pulau Tekong will involve dredging, construction of revetment, soil investigation and soil improvement works. Soil improvement works will entail sand piling and deep cement mixing. Trailer-suction-hopper dredgers (TSHD) will be used for transporting and pumping sand into the working area. Safety boats will be deployed in the vicinity to warn other craft of the operations in the area. Further general enquiries relating to the project can be directed to Mr R Kamata, the construction manager, at Tel: 9624 8603, email: ryuji_kamata@tjput.com.sg.

Pulau Tekong is just off Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin.

Apr 27, 2008

Talk on Cyrene Reef by Ria Tan on 3 May (Sat): 2pm at the Botanic Gardens

Get a sneak peek at mysterious Cyrene at Ria's public talk this Saturday!

She will feature the amazing marinelife on this submerged reef in the middle of our port.

Highlights include the stunning Star find at last week's trip as well as the volunteers working for this shore.

She will also be sharing about our many marvellous but little known shores from Changi to Tuas, Sentosa to the Sisters Islands and beyond. Nemos, sea snakes, living corals and more.

"Secret Shores of Singapore" by Ria Tan
Date: 3 May (Sat)
Time: 2-3pm
Venue: Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Website: http://www.nbrcnparks.org/
Contact: Wei Ling LIM lim_wei_ling@nparks.gov.sg

More details on the wild happening blog http://wildsingaporehappenings.blogspot.com/.

See also the "I want to go Cyrene!" facebook group

Chek Jawa and hornbill babies with Outward Bound

Bright and early, was off to Pulau Ubin again.Unfortunately, the dredger is still at Changi Creek...sigh.First things first, the Sunday-only and Ubin-only Lontong at Pak Ali's stall next to Ubin Jetty overlooking the Ubin Info Kiosk.And how nice today, to see Pak Ali and Macik at the stall. Both looked very fine! Macik hadn't been well for a while.

Soon, the OBS team and July arrived, we ate some more and then headed off to Chek Jawa. It was great to have July with us to share about the mangroves.And the nipah palms and mudlobster.And seagrasses and lots lots more.We came across Cynthia and her team, studying Littorinids (i.e., periwinkle snails) on Chek Jawa.As well as a family having a picnic on the shore...Here's a closer look at them...Alas, I noticed quite a bit of fresh litter along the boardwalk at the mangroves.This didn't wash up with the sea tide, but probably brought in by the tide of visitors.It was a scorching day, but most enjoyable sharing with yet another enthusiastic and fun bunch of OBS folks.They certainly set the standards for lively group photos!

They also shared some wonderful entries to the Naked Hermit Crab guestbook! More on the adventures with the naked hermit crabs blog.

On the way home, we stopped by at the Volunteer Hub where Uncle Mark shared what was seen on the camera at the hornbill nest box put up for a study of these wonderful birds.Wow, this is way cool. There were clips of the very dedicated dad feeding the mum who was sealed into the box with her babies. He fed her bananas and papaya as well as protein like insects and lizards and even other birds and their eggs.

Then we headed out to have a look at the nest box.And he shared more about how the study is being conducted.The artificial nest box is working very well and there are now 12 chicks some of which have already successfully left the nest. Bravo!

More about the Ubin Hornbill project on Ubin Tides

As the OBS team stopped by at Ubin Green House run by the Green Volunteers Network, we bid them farewell.
We headed for a quick lunch and to meet up with the rest of the Naked Hermit Crabs who valiantly went on to the 3pm public walk at the boardwalk. I was lame and headed home. It's been a long and exciting week of low tides. Tired but looking forward to the next series.

Apr 25, 2008

Stars of Cyrene

We were out again this morning with Dr Lane to search for echinoderms, in particular, a Special Star that was seen two weeks ago.

We saw lots of wonderful stars and stuff (see links to more blog entries of the trip below).

But to me, these are the true stars of our shores!
The valiant volunteers who turned up in force to help in the search. And our hero is Vyna (here, the rose among the thorns) who in the last minutes of the dying low tide, found The Star!

Like paparazzi, everyone crowded around to have a shot at The Star.It was a real squeeze and poor Jerald couldn't get past the huddle.And what's the fuss about?

This!A beautiful jewelled star (Pentaceraster sp.) that resembles our more commonly seen Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus), represented by the small star in the photo. The small Knobbly was unceremoniously tossed aside as everyone focused on The Star.

Why is The Star so special?

Because Dr Lane says it's the first record of it in Singapore!

Unfortunately for The Star, fame means eternal glory in the collection of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Other interesting observations today: Dr Lane pointed out that the huge bobbly snaptid sea cucumbers that we commonly see among the seagrasses...Have itty bitty crustaceans on them!!They were really tiny and hard to photograph. Amazing!

Dr Lane also explained that not all the big black long-spined sea urchins that we see are necessarily Diadema setosum just because they have an orange ring on the anal cone.He says this one could be Diadema savignyi as it has shorter spines and has blue lines on the body!Jerald also found a Knobbly eating something, and we show it to Dr Lane.Everyone finds all kinds of echinoderms.

Robin found the Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera), Sam found a baby Cushion star (Culcita sp.), Heok found a red feather star which later was found to have a black bristleworm-like thing on it. And probably lots more that I missed out on (check out the links to blog entries below).

And everyone saw lots of Knobbly sea stars of all colours, sizes and knob patterns.
There were also sand dollars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and lots and LOTS of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).

This is quite amazing given the proximity of this submerged reef to the major industrial installations on Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.Right smack next to major shipping lanes with humungous ships like this car-carrying ship passing close by.And just overlooking the container terminals and the city on the mainland.Well back to the stars.

They are unstoppable. All ready for action even before sunrise.Unfazed when told they need to work on a reef that only briefly shows above water during a short window of low tide.And requires an amphibious landing that involves leaping off a tiny boat.The volunteers have strange rituals, such as worship of the GPS Gods.But most importantly, our star volunteers need to eat.

Before the trip.And definitely after that...don't disturb them while they're feeding.Thanks to everyone who came today: Vyna, Andy, November, Marcus, Liana, Sijie, Kok Sheng, Jerald, Sam, Siti, Wei Ling, Robin and Dr Tan Heok Hui. And of course, Dr Lane for sharing so much with us.

More behind-the-scenes efforts: Intrepid volunteers during a TeamSeagrass visit first saw The Star. It was found by none other than our best hunter seeker: Chay Hoon. Marcus brought The Star's discovery to the attention of Dr Lane, and thus sparked off this trip. Kok Sheng also organised the hunt today to ensure there was as complete a search as possible despite the short low tide. And Sijie mobilised support in collection and follow up with the media. Look out for a story about this soon! And all this would not have been possible without the friendly and able support from the Dolphin crew.

Many hands and hearts come together to make discoveries possible.

Links to more blog entries about this trip

ACT for Cyrene!