Monday, December 29, 2008

Last public walk for 2008

28 December, 2008

We ended 2008 with one of the biggest turnout of visitors to our free Chek Jawa Boardwalk tours.

This is the scene that greeted us when the Crabs (Ivan, CH and LK) arrived at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk. A quick headcount and we realised that we had 50 visitors. Undeterred, we quickly split into 3 groups and got down to the happy business of showing the visitors around Chek Jawa.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December --- Last Chek Jawa Boardwalk Tour for 2008

Dear Friends,

Join us at our last Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour for 2008! It's a free tour, so what are you waiting for?!

Date: 28-Dec-08 (Sunday)

Time: 3 pm meet at Chek Jawa Information Kiosk

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: no charge

Information on how to get to Chek Jawa:

Signup needed? No, but we'll go on a first-come-first-serve basis until we run out of guides. Please come in small groups of 6 or less. No large groups please. The Naked Hermit Crabs are a small and er..... 'vulnerable' group.

And here are some words from a visitor who got philosophical after a trip to Chek Jawa with us ....

"Chek Jawa. It amazes me how individual components in the wetland inter-weave into the fabric of an ecosystem; the roles each play. Independent and yet inter-dependent. Each is a beauty of its own; just how much do we really pay attention to its form. In life, all of us play a role and all make up a system of life."

See you on the 28th!

[note: the free tours are made possible with the kind sponsorship by Transitions Optical.]

Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Sentosa walk of December

The omnipresent threat of rain from an overcast sky failed to dampen the enthusiasm of our young visitors on Friday's Sentosa Shore Walk, our first for the month of December. The preparations for ZoukOut the next day also failed to distract our visitors from the rich and abundant wildlife of Sentosa's shores, although our hunter-seeker for the day, Ivan, had partying on his mind. LK, November and myself each took one group of visitors.

Thankfully, no rain fell and we were able to end our shore walk safe and sound (and mostly dry above the knee), but not before getting a chance to get to see some of the shore dwellers close-up.

Cheryl and the gastropods.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Rain

There's nothing like a heavy downpour to spoil your afternoon at Chek Jawa.

Storm clouds were gathering ominously when we first arrived on Pulau Ubin, and we were fervently hoping that the weather would hold. We've always been blessed with good weather when guiding at Chek Jawa. Alas, while our van was making its way down to Chek Jawa, it began to rain heavily.

We fled for the Information Kiosk, where we spent a few miserable moments, waiting for the skies to clear. Since it was the school holidays, we had expected to meet a huge crowd. But I guess many people changed their minds when they saw the lousy weather.

Still, there were some brave souls who were determined not to let the weather dampen their spirits. The skies soon cleared, and we set off when the rain finally petered off into a light drizzle.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

IRAS friends visit Chek Jawa

It's a wonderful Saturday morning with promise of a bright sunshiny day in November. After a long work week, it is a great feeling as we take the bumboat across to Ubin, and the picture of the verdant forests of Ubin beckon.

The folks from IRAS came for a nature walk at Chek Jawa (CJ) with the Naked Hermit Crabs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour - 30-Nov-08 Sunday

Dear Friends,

Time flies! It's another month, and time for our free nature walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk.

Come and join us this Sunday afternoon. We'll bring you on a little adventure around Chek Jawa and hopefully we get to see the glorious animals there. If we're lucky, we might see the magnificent hornbills, eagles, wild boars and monitor lizards! There will be plenty of plant and animal life to discover anyway if the 'celebrities' don't show up.
Date: 30 Nov 2008 (Sunday)

Time: 3 pm meet at Chek Jawa Information Kiosk

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: no charge for now, but donations accepted

Signup needed? No, but we'll go on a first-come-first-serve basis until we run out of guides. Please come in small groups of 6 or less. No large groups please. The Naked Hermit Crabs are a small and er..... 'vulnerable' group. Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

26th Oct - A milestone achieved!

Oh no....late for my first guiding trip! That's how it started for me this afternoon. Excited and nervous as I was to guide for the first time, I reached Chek Jawa only at 3:10pm - about 10 minutes late. More surprises! Wow - I was to take 15 visitors -a rather large group for the first time. Moreover there were no kids in my group so in a way it was even more challenging [I think it is harder to impress adults...well just kidding]

I was so engrossed in guiding that I forgot to take any pictures so the pictures in this post are either contributed by LK and Ivan or are from my previous visits to the shore.

This time there were quite a few cotton stainer bugs gracing the Sea Hibiscus accompanied with a stick insect around the mud lobster's territory.

Mud lobster is a darn big creature. Since it is a nocturnal creature it is pretty hard to spot during the day. My only encounter with it was during the International Coastal Cleanup 2008. Here it was - posing for a photo shoot!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

26 Oct (Sun) Free Chek Jawa Boardwalk Tour

Come and join us this Sunday at the Chek Jawa Boardwalk. A few of the Naked Hermit Crabs volunteers will be stationed at the Chek Jawa Info Kiosk in front of House #1 at Chek Jawa. We will show you interesting coastal plants, mudskippers, bugs, fiddler crabs, tree-climbing crabs and all sorts of interesting stuff along the boardwalk.

Group size? Come in small friends and family groups of around 6 people or fewer. We only have a handful of guides each time. No signup needed. Thanks!!

Date: 26 Oct 2008 (Sunday)
Time: 3 pm meet at Chek Jawa Info Kiosk
Duration: 2 hours
Cost: no charge for now, but donations accepted

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Next Sunday 28-Sep Chek Jawa Boardwalk

Hi everyone,

The Crabs will be at Chek Jawa Boardwalk on 28-Sep-08 for our regular "last Sunday of the month" walk. Come and join us with your friends and families. We have only a few guides for the walk, so please come in small groups only (up to 6 in a group).

Date = 28-Sep-08 (Sunday)
Meeting place = Chek Jawa Boardwalk Information Kiosk
Time = 3 pm
Duration = 1.5 to 2 hours

(view of the CJ Boardwalk from the Jejawi Tower)

Read more about the Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour at

The Naked Hermit Crabs CJ Boardwalk tours are sponsored Transitions Optical.

Monday, September 1, 2008

31st August - What our visitors have to say about Chek Jawa

Here's a selection of thoughts and comments left by the wonderful members of the public who joined us on our August tour of the Chek Jawa boardwalk:

Yes, it's certainly wonderful that this place has been granted a reprieve from development! Time and time again, people are surprised at how one can find so much natural beauty just a stone's throw away from urban Singapore. We hope that you'll be back soon, and see other things that we didn't get to see this time around!

Awesome August!

(Note: I was so preoccupied with guiding that I forgot to take any pictures until right at the end, so most of the photos in this post will have come from previous walks. Thanks to LK for remembering to take photos while she was guiding. Only those photographs that can be enlarged when you click on them were taken on today's walk.)

It's the last day of August, and we're back in action, showing members of the public the beauty and splendour of Chek Jawa.

Ever since we started doing monthly tours of the Chek Jawa boardwalk in February, we've noticed a rise in the number of visitors. Thanks to word of mouth, as well as recent mentions in the press, many of our visitors come specially for our guided walks, as compared to our first few walks, when our groups were made up of members of the public we had 'ambushed' at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk.

Response has been so good, we don't even need to hang our banners to invite people to join us anymore!

Monday, August 25, 2008

We adopted Nudistarré!

On 9 August 2008, the Naked Hermit Crabs were at the IYOR 2008 Singapore Reef Celebration and adopted a Cyrene Star which we named Nudistarré!

By looking at its photo, you can probably guess why we named it so. *grin* Most complimentary to our own naked selves of course!

Today, 3 weeks after the event, we finally received our star kit and adoption certificate. For a donation of $60 (the highest in the 2 days of adoption drive), the NHC adopted the star previously known as CR020. Nudistarré and its 99 other friends from Cyrene Reef were up for "adoption". You can't bring them home but the money goes into more Reef Celebrations and the printing of the upcoming blue plan by the IYOR committee in Singapore.

Nudistarré is just a teenage star with lots of years ahead of it! With luck, it'll get to live its full life span on Cyrene Reef!

In return, we will be updated every time the Nudistarré is spotted by the Star Trackers on Cyrene Reef. How exciting! The Star Trackers even gave Nudistarré its own blog page on their blog!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Naked Hermit Crabs do Chek Jawa Boardwalk tours

The Crabs are featured in today's Sunday Times!

If you are reading our blog for the first time, we would like to say "Hi !".

The Naked Hermit Crabs are a group of nature lovers who have come together to raise awareness of Singapore's natural shores and the amazing marine life and ecosystems found in them. We do a wide range of nature conservation activities related to shores and reefs, and among them, we also run a free nature walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk every last Sunday of the month.

To find out more about our Chek Jawa Boardwalk tours, please read this post.

We have a small plea to make .... in the last 2 months, we have had huge crowds at our Chek Jawa tours. We would like to ask that you come in only small family or friend groups of not more than 6 people. We will take our visitors out on a first-come-first-serve basis and will stop accepting additional visitors once we run out of guides. Meanwhile, we are training more new guides and hope to improve the situation over the next couple of months. Thank you for your understanding!

The free nature walks at Chek Jawa Boardwalk are kindly sponsored by our friends at Transitions Optical, world leader in the manufacturing of plastic photochromic lenses.

Chek Jawa Boardwalk No Enough? More shores to visit....

Pulau Hantu
Dive with the Hantu Bloggers

Chek Jawa
Intertidal walk with the Ubin NParks volunteers

Cyrene Reef
Field trip with the "I want to go Cyrene" facebook group. See link at

Kusu Island
Reefwalk with the Blue Water Volunteers

Pulau Semakau
Intertidal walk with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Sungei Buloh
Guided tour with the Buloh volunteers

Btw, "Happy National Day" to everyone!

Naked at Reef Celebrations!

The Naked Hermit Crabs had a fabulous time at Reef Celebrations!Together with the Star Trackers (Sijie and Chee Kong), the Crabs ran the Adopt a Star booth. Here is November sharing about the special Knobbly sea stars of Cyrene.And Vyna with all the 100 stars of Cyrene that are up for adoption.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

9 Aug (Sat) - the Crabs celebrate IYOR Launch

Dear Friends,

Please treat this as a personal invitation to celebrate the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) Launch with us on 9 Aug at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (Botany Centre).

You've come for our Chek Jawa Boardwalk trips and our Sentosa shore walks. Why not join us too at the Botanic Gardens to gain a bigger picture of all the reefs in Singapore? You will also get to meet the large community of nature lovers who are involved in many aspects of reef and inter-tidal shore conservation work.

The Crabs are participating in this exciting event with a number of fun activities.

Adopt a unique Singapore star and learn more about Cyrene Reef, a major Knobbly Nursery!

Celebration Guestbook: Speak up for our shores! Leave a comment, draw a drawing on this special art effort by the Naked Hermit Crabs

Colour our shores: colouring station with special cartoons to colour and learn about our shores by the Naked Hermit Crabs

Exhibition booth - 100 Stars of Cyrene: posters of unique stars found on our uniquely Singapore reef and our other shores by the Star Trackers and the Naked Hermit Crabs

A few of the Crabs will be conducting talks for the public on that day.

10.30am: "Life and Death at Chek Jawa" sharing experiences of a study of mass deaths on Chek Jawa following flooding in 2007, a talk by Loh Kok Sheng

11.30am: "Wishing upon a Star" about our Knobbly sea stars, a recent emergence of baby Knobblies and discovery of a large population at Cyrene Reef, a talk by Tan Sijie, Star Trackers

It will be an action-packed day at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on National Day. Come and join us in celebration of the wonderful reefs in Singapore. See you there!

Date: 9 August 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 10am-5pm
Venue: Function Hall, Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens (above Taman Serasi foodcourt)

- the Crabs

Friday, August 1, 2008

9 Aug (Sat): Reef Celebrations! Launch of IYOR in Singapore

The marine community celebrates our nation's priceless reefs this National Day with the Singapore launch of International Year of the Reef!

Everyone is invited!

Time: 10am-5pm

Venue: Function Hall, Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens (above Taman Serasi foodcourt)


With a slew of activities for all, come find out about Singapore's living shores and how you can make a difference for them.

A shore fun day for the entire family! Kids' games and activities so even the youngest ones (aged 4-8 years) can learn about our marine life and what we can do to help.

Be a Star! Adopt a unique Singapore star and learn more about Cyrene Reef, a major Knobbly Nursery.

Our reefs revealed! As volunteers share about our reefs and shores and the work they have been doing. A rare opportunity to meet ALL major marine groups active on our shores and find out how you too can make a difference.

Exciting exhibits! See Singapore's living shores without getting your feet wet. Find out about the latest marine projects, and threats to and work done for our shores. Come see rarely seen specimens, including a baby dugong.

Special talks throughout the day! Come find out if there are any reefs left in Singapore and about diving Singapore's wild reefs at Pulau Hantu. Learn more about our Knobbly sea stars; how is Chek Jawa doing after the mass deaths in 2007?; and about our wild and wacky seagrass meadows. Film clips about our amazing marine life will also be shown throughout the day.

To read the full programme for 9 Aug, check out the IYOR website.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wild boars and madcap mudskippers at Chek Jawa, 27/7/08

We had a huge turnout of visitors today. 55 folks! Wow! Thank you for making that skip-hop-jump journey to Chek Jawa.
The groups were quite large, many of you may not have heard all the commentaries. Thank you for your patience. Chek Jawa with its varied ecosystems will always be full of little surprises. From the lovely guestbook drawings that you did, it looks like you had a great time and enjoyed seeing many of the creatures first-hand.

"Madcap Mudskippers"? Yes, that's what one of our young visitors called the mudskippers. I totally agree. The little mudskippers were so alive today. They were literally skipping and flipping somersaults. I guess it's not easy being a mudskipper living at the water's edge, and not quite sure whether it wants to be a land creature or a sea creature. Haha! Perhaps we are witnessing a tiny slice of the evolution process when sea creatures grow legs, shed their gills and begin to walk on land.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Announcement - Chek Jawa Boardwalk Tour on 27-Jul-08 (Sunday)

If you have nothing planned for this Sunday afternoon, why not join us on our free Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour.

The free tour starts at 3pm, meeting place is at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk. The Naked Hermit Crabs will be there to meet you. No sign-ups needed. Just show up. We will bring you out on the boardwalk tour on a first-come-first-served basis. No big groups please. Just small family and friend groups. Suitable for young children. Last month we had 40 visitors which was quite scary because we nearly didn't have enough guides. We managed to fit everyone into a group.

Date: 27 July, 2008 (Sunday)

Time: starts at 3 pm.

Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours

Price of tour: free

Meeting Place: Chek Jawa Information Kiosk

Bring your binoculars and camera! Always be prepared because you'll never know when you see the magnificent Oriental Pied Hornbills of Pulau Ubin.

For more information on how to get to Chek Jawa (Pulau Ubin), read our FAQ sheet.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chek Jawa Boardwalk with SLA 12 July 2008

There is an unspoken rule among volunteers when they head out for a public walk. There is to be no mention of “rain” or “lightning”. Instead, one can only mention “pyrotechnics”, “light display” or “special effects in the sky”. So Jun came up with, the weather looks “funny”.

But by the time we all reached the visitor kiosk, the weather was no longer “funny”, but sunny. And sunny days are perfect for our visitors from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to enjoy the Chek Jawa boardwalk.

Once the groups were formed, we set off. Our first stop was the coastal hill forest. It was durian season, and we could see durian trees in the distance. The rambutan trees were also heavy with fruit. As we walked further in to the mangrove habitat, we reached the boardwalk, where we stopped to peer at the fiddler crabs and mudskippers going about their business.

I was telling my group that creatures like horseshoe crabs exist near the mangrove areas. One of the walk participants shared that when he was young and living in Changi, they call it the ‘belangkas’ and that the horseshoe crab is well-known for its medicinal qualities. Unfortunately, though, populations of these ancient creatures in Singapore have been severely reduced over the last two decades. In Singapore, the Coastal Horseshoe Crab (Tachypleus gigas) is listed as vulnerable. The main threats are habitat loss and pollution.

From animals, we shifted our attention to the trees. The majestic Nipah palm trees, the only true mangrove palm, also have many uses for humans. In the olden days, it is the leaves of the Nipah palm which was used for the roof tops.

Its fruit is still used nowadays to make the attap chee for ais kacang. The sweltering heat made us all crave for something cool to eat!

No sign of the shy mud lobster but the vinegar crabs were out. The vinegar crabs are so called because the Teochew pickles this crab black sauce with vinegar, and eat it with porridge. Did this guy manage to get a glimpse of one?

We soon reached the Jejawi Tower and marvelled at the view of Tekong and Malaysia. Who can resist taking a group shot against such a beautiful background? Here’s CH’s group with their sunny smiles!

My group couldn’t resist taking a picture either when we got down from the tower.

The people in LK's group were fortunate to witness, not once but twice, the magnificent Oriental Pied Hornbills of P Ubin. There is a very healthy population of hornbills in Ubin now, thanks to conservation efforts by NParks.
The view from the top is definitely breath-taking, but we were soon back on the boardwalk, taking in the view from the ground. The tide was too high for us to see marine life of the seagrass lagoon, coral rubble area and sandy ecosystem, but pictures of sea stars, crabs, nudibranchs etc saved the day. We also saw barnacles, and learnt more about how the male of the species goes to great lengths to reproduce!

Speaking of which, we soon reach the Tongkat Ali plant, used to concoct the traditional “Viagra”. One of the walk participants shared that actually, it can also be ingested by women. He also said that the Tongkat Ali plant is beneficial more for one’s well-being, so perhaps it is more similar to “Ginseng” than the little blue pill in its effect.

Just next to the Tongkat Ali plant is a well, which in the distant past, was used by the villagers. What’s down there, mister?

Last stop – House No. 1. Interesting fact! It was actually the Singapore Land Authority who allocated the House to be used by Nparks. Now it has become a visitor centre so that we can all learn more about what we have seen on the Chek Jawa boardwalk.

It’s drawing time! Our visitors put pen to paper, sharing their thoughts on the Chek Jawa boardwalk. See one of our young budding artists at work!

Let’s see those dazzling smiles one more time!

Thanks to LK, Marcus, Jun, Jerald, CH and Vyna for coming down. Credit goes to CH for some of the pictures. We hope all our visitors had a great time!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sentosa Walk 6 July 2008

A turnout of 30 visitors greeted us for our last Sentosa walk of this current season. Lovely weather was guaranteed for our visitors, from the looks of the fair skies that morning.

In fact, before the morning light even penetrated the skies, Kok Sheng and his friend had been hard at work doing hunter-seeking and getting the stations ready for our visitors.

Ivan and Gerald’s group went down to the shore first, while LK and Vyna’s group waited for more people to come. Some of our visitors had fallen victim to the “meeting point doppelganger”, so do remember to park at the nearest car park which is located at Imbiah walk, not Imbiah Lookout.

The first treat for the visitors before they reached the shore was the sight of the natural rock formation which does look like mini-caves. We marvelled at the pink rocks, the result of the presence of oxidised iron. One of our young visitors asked if there were bears inside. Well, no bears for sure – but you will definitely be spoiled by the presence of a rich variety of marine life! LK also explained about the harsh environment that these trees above the rocks survived in.

We soon went down to our first station, where the visitors got to see a mosaic crab, a brown egg crab and a small shrimp. At the second station, they saw flatworms, a red egg crab and nudibranch species such as the Phyllid, Jorunna funebris and Phyllodesmium briareum. Most nudibranchs are carnivores, and feed on immobile creatures like barnacles, sponges, ascidians, hard corals, soft corals, sea anemones, zoanthids, peacock anemones, sea pens and eggs of other creatures including other nudibranch eggs even!

Despite all that variety, the humble (and fortunately still rather common) hairy crab which was scuttling amongst the rocks, almost stole the show. Our young visitors thought that the “teddy bear” crabs were extremely cute!

We took our visitors to the station where the black sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) was found. Our group were amazed looking at the sea cucumber which tensed up when it was touched, but relaxes and appeared to grow longer when it was let go (however, visitors should not touch anything on the shores, leave it to the more experienced guides please!). Sometimes, it may even squirt its sticky threads out when it is distressed!

Plenty of the soft ‘omelette’ corals were out in full glory, some even displaying their polyps prettily being half-immersed in the water.

Not to be outdone, the hard corals, such as the mushroom coral below, also make their presence felt. Why mushroom? When they are young, these corals are attached to some surface by a stalk, which they grew out of and detach from when they grow larger. And don’t the patterns on the mushroom coral match resemble very much the underside of a mushroom?

The variety of marine life on the Sentosa shores astounds even the guides. At one of the stations, we saw a sponge moving – or rather, a crab which looks like a sponge! Can you spot it in the picture below?

The tide was coming in, and our last station was at the tidal pool. Remember folks, take nothing from the shore but only pictures! See here one of our young visitors exercising his own “Independence Day”, releasing the marine life he had seen earlier back into the sea.

At the end of the Sentosa walk, the participants gathered at the end point and drew lovely drawings to depict what they have seen for the day. They also got to know more about how glasses protect our eyes from UV rays by using the indicators cards provided by Transitions Optical, sponsor of the Naked Hermit Crab Sentosa walks!

Everyone had a great time at the walk. See the broad smiles on everyone!

Thanks to the guides who made the walk successful: Ivan, LK, Jerald, Allen, Vyna, Kok Sheng and his friend. Credits also go to LK for many of the pictures on today’s post.