Mar 21, 2010

Semakau OJT 2

Trip 3 Semakau Trip 2 OJT
What I really love about all of this is that everytime it's different you never know what you are going to see.. Sort of like calls but in a much nicer way.. And presenting the "cases" is alot more fun :)Firstly, this trip Lk and a few others had been on Semakau for a few days before hand collecting specimens for RMBR. Bird specimens.. Well they had some mist nets out and "collected' this guy by mistake.

Dog faced fruit bat - Only had a chance to snap a quick picture before he was released. Obviously the poor guy was stressed and doing a " dracula" on me. Think the reason the people are so scared of them is because of all the bad press they get. Read an article once that in the whole of North America you get a few 1000 deaths from motor accidents and only 3-4 cases of rabies from bats. And all those cases were from people who handled a sick bat.. So if we really want to decrease mortality lets just ban cars.. Solve alot of problems won't it carbon emissions and all.. So those who propose to have bat eradication programmes should just sell their cars and picket car show rooms if they really want to make a difference.

Just a slight digression.. I just feel really strongly about people squeaking and hiding over some of the coolest creatures I have ever met. All those Dracula shots we see are generally of wild stressed bats just pulled from the net (the easiest way to lay hands on one of these nocturnal fliers). However take a look at the results from people who made friends with them.. This are some shots I took in Cairns Australia. Lady (That'll i'll forever remember as the bat lady) there runs a bat rescue and rehab shelter. Her friend here Tillie is an Australian flying fox. Prev brought in injured and now totally well Tillie is free to come and go and though she forages on her own she still snuggles up for a few "biccies" and no she is not tame. She wasn't some pet that I could touch (though I was dying to) Only Bat Lady was allowed to touch her.. Not threatening at all right?
Another resident an Albino Mexican Free tail. I've actually got some friends to admit that these 2 are actually cute. Speaks volumes on how different a stressed shot is from a relaxed one. Believe all these misconceptions are just due to bad press. Tillie eats fruits (and occasionally biscuits) Mexico here is an insect eater. No they do not bite you and no they do not fly into your hair intentionally (why would they want to??) For those who are so scared of Rabies JUST LEAVE THEM ALONE.
A last shot of the bats in Bat Reach the recuperatng bats are in the cage while a few hanger-ons stick around for the company and the occasional biccie. Would love to have a proper resident colony in my garden..
Anyway back to the main walk

A Pair of mating Sand Sifting Sea Stars

For some reason today there were mating pairs everywhere. Singles were the rarity. Without furthur ado the students I had with me christianed this strip the "Red light district". I fed them the dry stuff about how the male (the starfish on top) positions himself such that his arms interspace with that of his girl and that mating occurs with a simultaneous release of sperm and eggs.. And they had their own comments " Hey if you put anotherone on top will they have a threesome?" Errr....

A spider conch - not very spectacular on the deck given all the camouflage

But oh so pretty the min you flip it over! Noticed the long curved "claw" across the opening of the shell? That's the Operculum or foot that the spider conch can use to hop or right itself (especially when there is a guided tour:P)

Another Shot.. Gorgeous

The resident Carpet Anemone with it's pair of anemone shrimp. So much more attractive compared to my Cherry shrimp! (Sorry guys). I've been told that the relatioship between shrimp and anemone is really symbiotic. By coating themselves with mucus produced by the anemone the shrimp can avoid it's stings and hide from predators within the anemone. But in return they do not really have a role in cleaning the anemone and in fact may eat it's tentacles if there is a shortage of food..

A living Cowrie -The curse of beauty
Shell used in ancient China and India as a form of currency (Did that make beach combers the richest folk around..?) Look Closely you can probably see the 2 eye stalks sticking out of the upper edge of the shell .
Devoted mothers, they remain with their eggs till they hatch. Sadly more than half the cowrie species in Singapore have been lost as our natural beaches are reclaimed for development - probably the one thing a mother cowrie can’t protect her young from.Young cowries have a shell is a narrow spiral it encloses this spiral shell with a larger outer shell which has the typical cowrie shape and slit-like opening with teeth as the it grows. The inner spiral layers may be reabsorbed to make room for the larger animal and the material reused to build a larger outer shell.

Zooanthids (Colonial anemones)

Like tiny anemonies but not solitary but rather colonial like corals. They don’t produce a hard skeleton like the hard coral colonies. Tissues are leathery and composed partly of chitin (think insect exoskeletons). They feed on plankton/ other finer particles. Many harbour zooxanthellae
Some zoanthids contain powerful toxins to protect themselves against predators. The most toxic marine poison, palytoxin, was discovered in a zoanthid. Minute quantities of palytoxin can paralyse and even kill.Palytoxin, the poison extracted from a zoanthid, has been used to better understand how our body works and may provide better treatment of hypertension, heart disease and other disorders.

Star Anemone - A new first for me!

Has another mode of defence besides it's stingers. When threatened this guy can retreat rapidly back into it's tube home in the ground. Senior guide demoed this for me.. Wow

Upside-down jellyfish - finally got a good photo

Not a fish and are more closely related to sea anemones and corals (Cnidarians)
Jellyfish can sting and some, very painfully. Stingers are still active even after the jellyfish is dead or dying. Upside-down jellyfish can in fact release their stingers into the surrounding waters
They are found throughout the intertidal from the seagrass meadows to the reef flats. Their bodies harbor microscopic, single-celled algae (zooxanthallae). The algae undergos photosynthesis and the food produced is shared with the jellyfish, which in return provides the algae with shelter and minerals. It is the algae which gives the jellyfish its colours. Because it relies on photosynthesis, the jellyfish tends to be found in shallow waters with their bell down and legs up. Interestingly these industrious garderners will even right themselves if over turned.

The release Upside down:)

Saw a few other jellyfish today - This translucent one not so sure about the name.. Apparently can sting quite badly. Long pants definitely a must for inter-tidal walk

Ribbon jellyfish

Sea Urchin - Another 1st for me!

(Urchin is an old name for hedgehog - exactlly what this guy resembles)

Coolest thing was when you looked at it you're actually looking at it's anus.. Surrounding it are 5 white spots - the "eyes" Which can actually sense movement and adjust it's spines appropriately.. It's mouth is on it's underside facing the ground. It's called Aristotle's Lantern after the afore mentioned Greek Philosopher who first described it in his work "History of animals"The mouth itself is a hard beak that can be replaced as it is worn down. Most sea urchins graze on seaweed, detritus from hard surfaces or on immobile creatures such as sponges or encrusting animals.
The one in the picture (Long spined sea urchin) is the most commonly encountered sea urchins in deeper waters. It is believed that these gather together in groups where there are insufficient hiding places from daytime predators.
The roe of this sea urchin (unfortunatly)is eaten resulting in heavy harversting.

Heart cockle (No need to tell you how this guy gets his name)

Unique shape has triggered the imagination of many - the phrase “cockles of one’s heart” – to refer to one’s innermost feelings, the cockle shells in “Mary, Mary quite contrary” had in her rather unusual garden...
Unfortunately again quite popular as a valentine’s gift but the dead dry shell seldom retains it’s unique shape. Much better to leave them in peace and admire them from afar.
And for the some the need is much more pressing then ours some migratory waders consume to up to a ton of cockle flesh in a year!

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