Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sentosa goes Naked!

On 9 June 2008, we went out on our favourite Sentosa shore with 30 visitors as part of our birthday celebrations. Here's a lovely group photo taken just before we went down. It was 8:30 am, but everyone was raring to go!

And so we did....

Among the first sign of life on the beach was this large hole made by the Ghost Crab. The reason it is called a Ghost Crab is because few people ever really see it. It is a very fast-moving crab with excellent eyesight and it runs off even before you can get a glimpse of it.
And so, July drew on the sand, explaining how the Ghost Crab forms a Y-shaped tunnel with 2 holes, and how it so cleverly hides from intruders.

As many of you know, the part of Sentosa where we explore is also a coral reef. A hard coral of this size, over a metre in diameter, takes forever to grow. I'm pretty sure this living coral is older than half of all our participants at the walk.
If there are hard corals, then there are soft corals too! Here is one, not too big, but it has polyps with green tips. One of our visitors asked if such corals glow in the dark. I'm not an expert in this, but my guess is that it does.
I was absolutely thrilled to see the beautiful and very large patch of Dead Man's Fingers, a soft coral that is found on many of our southern isles. What an eerie name, but the coral is spectacular. We stood there admiring it for quite a while.

Closer to the rocky shore area, we found lots of the Black Sea Cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota). These long black sea cucumbers are commonly seen on our southern shores. They usually hide under rocks or among the coral reef area. They have a mouth and an anus.

We will also thrilled to see a large school of juvenile catfishes darting around our feet. These catfishes can grow quite big, up to a metre long. They spend the early part of their lives in safe lagoons such as this one. Please don't handle any catfishes as some of them have venomous spines on their dorsal and pectoral fins. It will be one big painful experience if you were stung by one.
I am unfamiliar with this and am waiting for someone to help me id this. It has long tentacles and a beautiful reddish brown colour.

The next 4 photographs give you a good general idea of the conditions during a shore walk. We stopped endless times to see the animals in their natural environment.
The long Tape Sea Grass in the foreground is commonly found on Sentosa shores. In general, sea grasses are a good bio-indicator of the condition of a shore. There is another group of volunteers, called Team Seagrass, who monitor the different species of seagrasses in Singapore. Several of the Naked Hermit Crabs volunteer with them too.
Here is a lovely mother and son team, admiring a soft coral.
Exploring ...
Admiring.... not collecting anything.... just taking photos .... writing notes....
Before we knew it, it was time to end the walk. Hard to believe that we spent 2 hours on the shores.

On our way up, we found a small troop of Long-tailed Macaques foraging on the shores. In the wild, these monkeys are very resourceful and will know how to feed themselves with all kinds of interesting things. That is why we constantly remind friends and visitors that we should never feed the macaques in our forests. Feeding them changes their natural behaviour. Sometimes it changes their palates too.
The peacock couldn't resist the action either and was seen foraging on the sandy beach.
After the long walk, we were all tired out. The Crabs whipped out their construction papers and magic pens. Visitors were game and obliged us with some lovely drawings (another post, lah!)

As we were not in a hurry, we mingled with the groups for a longer time than normal. We even found time to explain about UV rays using the UV indicator card given by Transitions Optical, sponsor of this series of Sentosa walks. The kids were interested and began testing their mom's sunglasses on the card. To read more about UV rays, the invisible enemy, check out the Transitions Optical site.

Thanks to all our enthusiastic vistors for making this a wonderful day of nature exploration. Now that you've seen the beauty of the natural shores, go and talk about it with your friends and families. Be the eyes and voice of our natural heritage!

Thanks to all the guides, many of whom took leave to do this, for your passion. Present today were July, Haliah, Gaytri, November, Ivan, Jerald and LK.

Thanks too to Transitions Optical for sponsorship (the walks are free!)

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