Monday, September 24, 2007

CJ with the Scouts

It was raining cats and dogs when I woke up last Sunday morning, and there were flashes of lightning accompanied by deafening thunder.

Could we really be so unlucky, I was wondering.

It had been hot and dry for the past few days, and just when we need the sun to conduct a guided walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk, it started raining!

Even as I left home, it was still drizzling! But luckily, by the time my bus reached Changi, the rain clouds cleared and it was all sunny :)

We had a group of scouts with us last Sunday, on a special request by Sijie, who is also a Naked Hermit Crab.

We started our walk by cutting through the coastal hill forest, which has many interesting plants and insects.

At the end of the forest trail was the 600m long coastal boardwalk. While the boardwalk looked like it's made from wood, it's actually made from concrete and glass fibre! Along the way, we could see oysters, drills and barnacles on the rocks, and swimming crabs and schools of fishes in the water.

After the coastal boardwalk, we have the 500m long mangrove boardwalk. Here's where you can see interesting mangrove trees, fiddler crabs, monitor lizards, mudskippers and more!

And at the end of the mangrove boardwalk, we have the 20m tall Jejawi Tower. Here's another group led by Chay Hoon viewed on top of the tower!

After the walk, we gathered at House No. 1 for a quick debrief and also to get the participants to write and draw in our guest book.

Many of them used the cute cartoons drawn by Chay Hoon as a reference for their guestbook entries!

Here are some of the guestbook entries drawn by our visiors:

And here's a group shot of the entire gang who participated in the walk!

Thanks to the scouts for such wonderful visitors, and thanks to Wilson and Chay Hoon for contributing their photos!

Also, a BIG THANK YOU to Ria, Chay Hoon and Sijie from NHC, and Grace and Ken from Green Volunteers Network for helping with the guiding! :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Naked in the News!

Young volunteers for the shores and the Naked Hermit Crabs are in the news!

Protecting nature's beauty
By Liana Tang Straits Times 10 Sep 07

GETTING wet and dirty, sometimes knee-deep in mud, may not sound like a great day out for most.

But for undergraduate Loh Kok Sheng, it is just what he needs to unwind - conducting a guided walk on Sentosa's shore.

The third-year life sciences student at the National University of Singapore also regularly explores the muddy crevices of shores like Changi beach and Chek Jawa, sometimes in pre-dawn darkness, to photograph the wildlife he encounters.

He then shares his photographs and experiences through his blog:

The 23-year-old discovered this newfound passion on a visit to Sentosa last year. 'When I was first introduced to the Sentosa shoreline, I was amazed at how marine life was thriving on a tourist island.' He cites colourful creatures such as giant anemones and stealthy crabs among many intriguing finds.

A project he is currently working on is charting the recovery of wildlife on Chek Jawa following damage to the marine environment caused by heavy rainfall earlier this year.

Mr Loh reports his findings on a blog: where he notes that despite having to adhere to unearthly timings and strict schedules 'chasing' the low tides to survey the wildlife, his friends who volunteer to help in his field surveys thoroughly enjoy themselves, discovering something new each time.

Why his many blogs? He simply hopes to raise awareness among youth about Singapore's natural heritage.

He is among an increasing number of young people and groups who conduct workshops and guided walks in various nature spots in Singapore.

Mr Ron Yeo, 32, founded one such group. Suitably named Naked Hermit Crabs (NHC), the group's 30 volunteers provide guided shore walks for the public, doling out historical tidbits and facts while pointing out ecological highlights.

Of the 20 youth volunteers in NHC, Mr Yeo believes that engaging young people in such volunteer roles is key to the future of conservation.

'It is refreshing to work with young people as they always bring in new ideas that help improve the way we conduct our walks and other conservation efforts,' he said.

In agreement is Mr N. Sivasothi, an instructor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He believes that the efforts of such individuals and groups, along with education in schools, provides comprehensive opportunities for creating awareness among youth about environment and conservation.

'Young people who are inspired by the volunteers they meet tend to take up committed leadership roles in the conservation community,' said the former research officer at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

'This is one way that we maintain a dynamic, motivated community that works towards making positive impacts on conservation in Singapore.'

The writer, Liana Tang, 23, graduated with honours in biology from NUS

Play your part!
HERE are some useful resources close to home:

Keep up-to-date with news about nature spots at

Seek out information on Singapore's natural history at Habitatnews

Find out how you can help the Blue Water Volunteers at

Volunteer to be a part of shaping Singapore's garden city by visiting

Find out more about visits and workshops on Semakau Landfill with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at

Photos of people from the article...

Here's N. Sivasothi (left) with Kok Sheng (middle) and Dr Dan Rittschof during a field trip for the Chek Jawa recovery project in Aug 07.

And the author of the article, Liana Tang is also Naked (left most at front row), while Ron Yeo is waving the Naked Flag in the photo, taken during the Sentosa walks by the Naked Hermit Crabs.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

First NHC Guided Walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk

Yesterday, the Naked Hermit Crabs had our very first guided walk at the Chek Jawa Board Walk! We had 3 groups of participants from NIE and 2 groups of teachers and their family members from the Singapore Chinese Girls School.

It was raining rather heavily early in the morning, but fortunately it more or less stopped when we were about to start our walk :)

We waited for our participants at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk just outside the visitor centre. The participants from SCGS soon arrived, and here's Ria giving them a good briefing before we start the walk. She took one group, while LK and Kaifen took another.

The participants from NIE also arrived in a while. They were divided into 3 groups, and were led by Alyce & Chay Hoon, Marcus & Sijie, and July, Peihao & me.

We started off with the coastal boardwalk first, and to reach it it, we have to cut through part of the coastal hill forest. The forest is a very important component of Chek Jawa, as it contribute food to the plants and animals that live in the surrounding water in the form of dead leaves, animal waste etc.

The entire boardwalk is about 1.1km long, and the coastal section is about 600m. The boardwalk was actually made from made from concrete and fibre glass, although they look just like wood! The mold used to make the boardwalk was made based on real wooden planks.

The walk also brought us to the floating pontoon, which goes up and down with the tide.

At the mangrove section, you could get really close nature - so close that you can even touch the trees!

Do you know that the young of many seafood that we eat spent part of their lives between the safe roots of mangrove trees? Mangroves also protect the inland from strong winds and destructive waves, like tsunami.

And nearby, a monitor lizard was lazing around.

During this walk, we also saw a species of fiddler crab which we have not seen before!

And near the Jejawi tower, we had a pleasant surprise - there was a long-tailed macaque feeding on the figs of the jewawi tree that gave the tower its name! As there were no irresponsible members of the public feeding the monkeys on Ubin, they haven't lost the ability to find food on their own, and thus do not harass the visitors.

On top of the tower, we took the opportunity to take a few group photos.

Here's the Vinegar cum Thunder Crab group from NIE.

Here are the fiddler crabs...

and the Swimming Crabs...

And here's Siew Joo and our new friends from SCGS! Thanks to Caruna who shared the photo with us.

The walk ended at House No. 1, aka the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre, where our visitors took time to write (and draw) in our guestbook.

And here's what we got from them!

Thanks to all our visitors for sharing their thoughts!

It was certainly a very enjoyable walk for both the guides and the visitors! Thanks to the guides who helped out in the walk - Alyce, Chay Hoon (who also helped to draw the cartoon), LK, Kaifen, Marcus, Sijie, July, Ria and Pei Hao (who also help with taking the photos).

Check out the photos taken by Peihao at

And more about the walk on July's discovery blog and the NIE green club blog