Sunday, December 2, 2007

CJ Boardwalk Tour on 2 Dec

After taking a good rest in November, the Naked Hermit Crabs were ready to go exploring on our shores again!

Today was also a special day, as this was the first time we had so many registered visitors - 69 of them altogether, excluding friends who came with some of the guides.

(Taken by Marcus)

Also with us today were 4 new guides! They will be attached to the experienced guides for on-the-job training today.

And as per always, there were lots of interesting things to see at Chek Jawa, even if you just stay on the boardwalk!

(Taken by Laxton)

A golden orb web spider was quietly waiting on its web as we walked down the slope towards the shores. While it is not the largest spider, it certainly makes one of the largest and strongest web! In fact, the web can even trap small birds!

My group started with the mangrove mangrove boardwalk - the entire boardwalk is about 1.1km long, and comprises 2 sections - the mangrove boardwalk (500m) and the coastal boardwalk (600m).

The mangrove boardwalk will also bring you to the 20m-tall Jejawi Tower, which was named after the Malayan banyan tree next to it.

(Taken by LK's group)

Here's LK's group, the Swimming Crabs, on the tower. You get a great view of the surrounding area, including Pulau Tekong and Johor!

(Taken by Marcus)

And on the other side of the tower, you'll get to see the lovely hill forest and mangrove forest. This is Marcus' group, the Vinegar Crabs.

(Taken by Jun)

The mangrove boardwalk allows you to see lots of interesting plants, including these bakau mangrove trees with their prop and stilt roots. The soil in a mangrove area is often very poor in oxygen, and thus these trees need to get their roots exposed to the air to breathe better.

There were several interesting animals too, including this giant mudskipper.

And during low tide, the fiddler crabs ruled the sandy area just next to the mangroves.

(Taken by Laxton)

Some of the groups also spotted this little monitor lizard.

(Taken by Jun)

Here's CH's group, the Ghost Crabs, at the coastal boardwalk section. Unfortunately, the currents were very strong today, making the sea water to be very murky. But despite that, we still managed to see several huge schools of fish swimming near the surface, sometimes going in circles. It was really spectacular seeing them! There must be like thousands of fish in each school!

And here's my group, the Thunder Crabs, still looking enthusiastic and cheerful despite the glaring sun towards the end of the walk :)

And one of my young visitor got to practise his photography skills with an SLR on some lovely flowers of the Singapore Rhododendron.

At the end of the walk, we managed to get our visitors to write or draw their thoughts in our guest book, and here're some of their comments:

At the end of our walk, Mr Chu, the van driver, kindly drove us to take a look at the heronry, where we managed to take a group shot of the gang.

(Taken by Jun)

And what are the Naked Hermit Crabs doing in the above photo? (Clue: look at the sign board behind.) :P

All in all, it has been a great day! Thanks to all our enthusiastic visitors for making this trip so wonderful.

And also, thanks to the crabbies - Ria, CH, July, Marcus, November, Ivan, LK for guiding the groups, and Juanhui, Sam, Laxton, Samantha, Geok Theng, and our Ubin guide friends Evelyn and Allan for helping out with the walk!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sentosa Walk on 27 Oct 2007

Once again, the Naked Hermit Crabs were out on Sentosa to conduct a guided walk!

We had two groups going for the Adventure Trail (I took one group while Ivan took the other), and one group going for the Family Trail (guided by Marcus), adding up to a total of 22 participants. Sijie was my assistant (the above photo was taken by him), while July and Helen were the hunter-seekers.

And I must say our hunter-seekers were really good! We certainly had a great day, and saw lots of interesting things, including butterflyfishes, a squid, octopuses, nudibranchs, leaf slugs, sea cucumbers, crabs, pitcher plants, tongkat ali, and of course, lots of beautiful corals!

I didn't managed to take many photos, but the others sure managed to take some really great shots!

Do check out the following blog entries for the full story and more photos!
And at the end of the walk, our visitors kindly found time to write in our guest book. And here are some of the comments:

Thanks to all our enthusiastic visitors for making this trip such an enjoyable one!

And also, thanks to all the Naked Hermit Crabs who helped out - Marcus, Ivan, Sijie, Helen and July.

Looking forward to more great naked trips!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A child's joy at Chek Jawa

What joy to the Naked Hermit Crabs to bring gladness to a child!

We chanced upon this encouraging post about a family who enjoyed the guided walk at Chek Jawa with the Crabs...

"We were lucky that there happened to be a guided tour group there at Chek Jawa last Sunday at 2.30pm. It was organised by the Naked Hermit Crabs.

My boy enjoyed the whole trip. We walked along the boardwalk and even went up the Jejawi tower. We spotted different types of crabs, ants, frogs, mud skippers, shellfish, sea grass, fish, butterflies, moth, caterpillars, birds etc.

I strongly recommend the tour cos' we won't have spotted certain things if we had gone on our own.

My verdict: Definitely worth a trip for kids 3 years and up and if you like nature.

And here's Corey with the fascinating moth in a winter coat!

Thank you Corey for making our day, and mum and dad for permission to post their very kind comments.

An account of the trip is also on Corey's own blog!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Naked Plea on Blog Action Day


Here we are, hermit crabs gathered together for Blog Action Day.

You might see some of us on the shores of Singapore.
Look carefully! Some of us are tiny. But aren't we pretty?!

We the Striped hermit crabs are quite large and commonly seen. We are usually orange, although rarely, some of us are blue (some hermits just HAVE to be different...hmmm).

Mr Big Red Hermit Crab with White Spots is rarely seen except on undisturbed shores. While Pretty-in-Purple Ms Land Hermit Crab is also rare because she and her friends are often taken away to become pets in people's houses. We really don't do well away from the sea. And we will miss our friends on the sea shore. Please don't take us away.

But MOST importantly, us hermit crabs need empty shells! Our backsides are long and soft and we need to tuck them into a nice hard shell or some nasty thing will EAT US!!
Sometimes other animals like sea anemones also settle on our shell (see the nice big anemone on the photo at left). So it isn't just hermit crabs that need the shell. Even tiny shells are homes to tiny hermits!

Any kind of shell is a potential home for one of us. Big ones, small ones, broken ones, pretty ones, ugly ones.
Do visit us. We'd love to see you.

But please leave empty shells on the beach. Don't bring them home!!

We will be naked (and dead) without a shell.

Thank you!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blogging for Nature with Web 2.0

The workshop arm of Naked Hermit Crabs held its 2nd ever workshop last Friday, 12 October 2007, at a computer lab in NIE/NTU courtesy of the NIE Green Club.

It was well attended by about 20 participants who spent 2 hours with various naked crabs sharing tools for sharing nature via the web 2.0 technologies while feasting on the food and drinks kindly provided by Vilma and Ria. (Thank you!)

This is part of a series of 2 workshops on Blogging for Nature, also known as Sharing Nature via Web 2.0. This workshop was targeted at advanced users who are already blogging to introduce them to a set of tools that would enable to reach a greater audience.

The workshop was structured such that different components are shared by different speakers who give diversity of presentation and ideas. Some of the slides are uploaded and shared on Google Documents. The components included:

1) Why blogs make a difference - Ria
2) What is web 2.0 - November

3) Photos and Flickr - Marcus
4) Youtube - Chay Hoon
5) Widgets - Ron
6) RSS and Google Reader - Ria

Social Network Tools
7) Twitter - November
8) Facebook - November

9) - Marcus
10) Stomp - Ivan

Collaboration Tools
11) Google Documents - November
12) Wikipedia - November

Unfortunately we were not able to talk about the importance of manual submission of information. Trawling for information to submit to Wildsingapore for further dissemination. Sadly we didn't have time for elaboration on the collaboration tools either. However, participants are invited to collaborate on a list of web resources covered during the workshop on Google Documents.

Luckily, we are planning for more of these workshops in the coming months. Next time hopefully we'll be able to cover everything by expanding this workshop further into 2 parts.

Coming up next week, "blockheads to blogheads" is a beginner class that will give participants a hands-on session on to how to start their own blog. All participants will leave the session with a blog!

Meanwhile for last friday's advance class, the mission for students is to commit to the Blog Action Day on 15 October 2007. It is a day where bloggers all over the world will be blogging for the environment in a show of solidarity and support! Register your blogs today. I look forward to reading each of the participant's blog post for the day and I've already got mine planned!

See more photos of the workshop here. July has also blogged about the workshop!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

CJ Boardwalk Tours on 7 Oct 2007

Today, the Naked Hermit Crabs were out at Chek Jawa Boardwalk again! Again, it was a rainy day, and LK told us that she actually saw a water spout at East Coast while on her way here!

We were quite fortunate that the rain stopped when we reached Pulau Ubin. We got Uncle Chu to drive us to Chek Jawa in his van.

On our way there, we noticed that the wild ixora were all blooming! Wow! I've been to Pulau Ubin so many times, but it never occur to me that there are some many wild ixora plants on the island. We could even see many of them blooming in the middle of the forest!

And when we were at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk, we had another pleasant surprise - a pair of oriental pied hornbill! The photo above shows one of them. Some of our visitors saw it, but they flew away before the rest arrived.

We had 2 groups of visitors today - a group of 10 visitors who booked the trip with me through email, and another group of walk-in visitors. Ria took the former group, while LK took the other.

Although we were just walking on the boardwalk, there were still plenty of things to see.

At the mangrove section, there were lots of vinegar crabs on the mud lobster mound.

There were many mudskippers too.

And yet again, we found the fiddler crab with red eyes!

LK's group also spotted several huge atlas moth caterpillars. They have eaten most of the leaves of the poor tree though.

And here's one of our young visitors from LK's group looking at a moth on the railing, with LK and the other group members behind.

And here's another young visitor from Ria's group taking a group photo for the group.

The coastal section was full of surprises too!

We saw this HUGE school of fish swimming just under the boardwalk. There must be like thousands of them!

The jellyfish were out in full force too! We saw many of them in different colours and sizes!

Don't know why, but the little boy seemed to be quite fond of me. Or perhaps he liked the Naked Hermit Crab flag I was holding? Haha...

After the walk, we went to the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre aka House Number 1, while the visitors drew some lovely pictures for our guest book.

Thanks to the wonderful visitors that we had today. And also special thanks to the Naked Hermit Crabs for helping with today's walk - Ria, LK, CH (who together with Ria contibuted some of their photos), July and Sijie. We sure had a lot of fun today! :)

Sharing Nature with Ordinary People

Apart from our expanding guided walks to various shores under threat in Singapore, the Naked Hermit Crabs have now sprung a new arm focusing on training workshops for nature guides, nature lovers and all interested public.

Our first workshop in the series was held on 29 September 2007 at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. The workshop was initially the brainchild of Sheila, the NParks staff at Sungei Buloh and Ria, who thought it would be good to have a session on stories to share with visitors to nature areas but the numerous ideas soon evolved into a full workshop on "Sharing Nature with Ordinary People". In attendance were volunteers from SBWR, Naked Hermit Crabs and just about everywhere else! Several toddycats were also present, especially familiar faces from my Pedal Ubin group.

The workshop was held shortly after Ria's talk on the Secret Shores of Singapore at the Theatrette in Sungei Buloh. Although we only anticipated 24 people for the workshop, almost 40 turned up! There were a total of 39 people including Ria and myself, the lovely assistant monkey for the day. It was an excellent sharing session where guides of all experience level comes together to share problems and solutions for different type of situations a guide encounters out there in the "wild". Mainly with different type of visitors.

I couldn't capture everybody in the room with my camera but it was a huge crowd!

The workshop started with a general overview of where everybody are from - at least those 24 who preregistered - what their favourite and least favourite aspects of guiding were and a short discussion of each aspect. Discussions really got on the way with animated conversations and contributions from everybody when we broke out into smaller groups. Each group was tasked with a different type of visitors.

Group 1: "School Children" group

Group 2: "Photographers" group

Group 3: "Foreigners" group

Group 4: "RC" group

Group 5: "Mixed Families" group

We overran the time a little towards the end because there were just too much to share. I guess I forgot to introduce to the group that I was actually the note taker for the workshop so I guess people were wondering why I'm walking around taking photos of them! My job was to "instantly" transcribed the points discussed into the round up slides and other general miscellanea. All in all the sharing session had its share of laughter and good ideas! I think we all took away something useful from the workshop. We were expecting some role playing from the groups but darn, none gave us the pleasure of watching them play out the situations prescribed to them. I think next time we'll have to give specific instructions! *grin*

Feedbacks are still coming in from the participants but so far it's been very encouraging and we definitely hope to do this again for the other guides who were actually out on our shores and forests while we were at the workshop! We have not forgotten you - more workshops are definitely in the works.

Photos can be seen at my flickr set.

This is not the end of our workshops but only the beginning! In fact, there are a series of 2 workshops coming up next in the month of October on "Blogging for Nature" which is kindly hosted at NIE @ NTU by the NIE Green Club.