Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sensory Trail @ Ubin

Today (24th June 2007) there was a group of employee from Tech Semi-Conductor visiting Pulau UBin and part of the program is to attend the Sensory Trail. As such, I decided to hop on for my yet another OJT. This time round I'm attached to Ron's group.

(The folks arriving at the Jetty)

(Ron explaining the myth/legend on the formation of Ubin using the map)

As we walk to the trail starting point, saw this little nice red letterbox. It is near the fig tree near the information booth.

(The entrance to the trail)

The 1st plant that awaits us is the banana plant. Many ppl has the misconception that banana is a tree. Do take note of this.

Some of us might be wondering why is this trail named "Sensory Trail". While its pretty obvious, this is a trail design and created to enable us to make full use of our senses (See/Hear/Taste/Touch/Smell). The trail was design to allow our visually-disabled friends to be able to use their other 4 sense to the max.

Soon entering the trail, you'll be able to smell a nice and familiar fragrance in the air, that will be the nice fragrant from the Pandan Leaves.
Pandan Wangi Pandanus amaryllifolius

Pandan leave do look alot like the Citronella which also has a very strong scent. In fact, its so strong that it can be used to deter insects like mosquito.

(Ron rubbing some of the leaf on his arm)

There are a couple (I think 3 of them) of ScareCrow in the trail. Below is the one that receive us near the start of the trail.

Since there are nice fragant plants, how can we not have something that doesn't smell as gd? No worries. We have the Fishy Plant. Yup. U guess it right. The plant does smell fishy (no joke).
fishy plant

So we have used our "Smell" sense, next up is the "Moses in THe Cradle" plant (also known as boat lily) that will test your sight (See sense). This plant has some interesting shade of red and green. This plant is commonly available in the ornamental trade due to its nice colors.
Moses in the Cradle Tradescantia discolor

Among the Boat Lily, there are 2 Gelam tree. From one of them we can see clearly its paper trunk that is peeling off. The paper trunk is been used for caulking, the water-proofing process that pack and pressed the trunk between the planks in the manufacturing of boats. Btw, anyone been to Kampong Glam? Apparently, Kampong Glam got its name due to this tree which is commonly available there years back.
gelam tree

Here, Ron is trying to point out to the group on the leaf of the Henna tree that is used for Henna drawing.

I guess this is the most easiest plant to introduce to young kid. Believe most kids will have eaten peanuts of sort. Thus groundnut plant should interest them.

Before proceeding to the next section, Ubin's best kept secret, the "Secret Garden", juz by the side there is a huge bamboo tree.

secret garden
(Secret Garden Walkthrough)

Just one on the left of the Secret Garden, there is a plant that has a very interesting name, "Toothache Plant". This plant can actually numb our mouth if we chew on its fruits. Thus it can be use to relieve toothache which explains its naming.

Honeysuckle is a type of vines that are easy to grow, vigorous, heat-tolerant, and nearly indestructible. The flashy and fragrant flowers also birds and butterflies thus many like to grow its on their fence and other framework.

The Midnight Horror only flower late at night and thus it attracts lots of insects and bats. The branches of the tree look alot like bones and hence it is also known as the Broken Bone Plant.

There are still quite a number of other plants that I did not mention and I'll like to show some pix of the various fruits that are available along the trail.

We have the coffee, Great Morinda and even durian.
robusta coffee fruit

Great Morinda



One of the member has the priviledge of testing the fruit but unfortuately its not the sweet lovely durian but the sour fruit, belimbing (Thks Ron for the ID).

Beside juz plants/flora, there are also lots of fauna in along the trail and of course Ubin. We came aross a huge Terminte Nest, Mud Lobster, Spider, etc.

(Ron showing the termite nest)

(A golden orb web spider)

Sadly, we did not encounter any wild boar which many of them was hoping to see. However, we saw the used tire villagers use to place around their fences to stop wild boar from bashing into their garden.

Quite a far bit of Ubin is mangroove and many public like to fish around the area. We actually witness them catching a catfish.
(Notice the mangroove's roots)


Wow. This is has been a long post. Guess, I shall stop here and with that I shall end with a nice pix of a lovely leave. Anyone guess what is this?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

1st OJT at Pulau Semakau

Wow! What a can I say? My 1st OJT at Pulau Semakau is definitely different. Not due to the location nor due to the fauna & flora we encounter there. Its different cos its very wet and do not mean that the tides are high. Its due to wet weathers. Yes! It was my 1st raining experience of at any Inter-Tidal Area.

The day started early, however by the time we reached Pulau Semakau its already 7+am. As the tides are already rising, we had to rush to the shore.

(My group from the public lead by Robert)

(The patch of mangrove along the way)

(Reaching the entrance to the secondary forest)

It take us abt 5-10mins to reach the shore. Doesn't it feels like entering a whole new dimension?

Since our group is the "Sea Star" group, Robert instantaneously found and picked up a Sand Sifting Star, Archaster typicus. [Thanks Ron for the I.D)
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Sand Sifting Star with the help of its spines moves over the sandy bottom of the ocean sifting through sand for food. The spines also enable it to burrow into the sand to hide or digest its food.

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There are lots of sponges around the area. Most of them are brownish but if u look carefully, some of them do have lovely colors like green or blue. Sponges are the simplest form of multicellular animals. They don't have tissues or organs. Sponges belongs to a group of phylum Porifera which uses a system of pores (also called ostia) and canals for general mode of feeding , respiring, excreting wastes while whipping water in through openings in their body walls.

Their in-ability to contract their siphons (opening) is the one easy way to separate them from the at-times similar Trunicate (Sea Squirts) which have contractable openings.

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(Most probably a Halichondria sp., not too sure)

As we pushed forward, we had to move in a single file to cross the large patch of Seagrass Lagoon.
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At the 1st stop that was created by our friendly hunter seekers, there were scallop, Spider Conch and a Moon Snail.

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Commonly also known as Shellfish. Scallop has with two opposing shells that are hinged together. They are bivalves thus are filter-feeders, sifting food through their gills, which also function as respiratory organs. Bivalves are commonly found burrowed into sand and are capable of discharging some powerful jets of water from their exhalant siphons.

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Spider conchs, Lambis lambis are voracious carnivores and may also feed on algae. Spider conch are easily indentified and hunted for it lovely unusual shell.

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Moon Snail (Naticidae family) is also carnivorous. They feed mainly on shelled molluscs, including other snails and bivalves, and are well-known because they use their buccal appartaus and radula to drill a hole through their prey's shell, leaving a very characteristic countersunk drill hole in the shell.

Another common sightings beside the sponges will definitely have to be the Anemone. Made popular thanks to the movie "Finding Nemo" where the star of the movie was borned. There are over 20 known families of Sea Anemones. Anemone's bodies consist of two layers of cells separated by a jelly-like substance. Their outer layer contains muscles and stinging cells, while their inner layer is used to digest food. They are primarily a predator, but most species contain the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae that will provide nourishment under proper lighting.

Some anemone especially the Bubble-Tip Anemone commonly found to have some naturally symbiotic relationship Clownfish. Do check out wildfilm blog where they spotted a false clownfish on a common anemone.

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(Probably a Phymanthus sp)

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(Probably a Condylactis species)

We spotted quite a number of corals. Including soft coral and various hard coral. Corals are responsible for building the many beautiful reefs around the world and many are not aware that they too can make lovely coral reef in Singapore. Check out wildfilm recent trip to Raffles Lighthouse.

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(Leathery Coral, Sacrophyton sp.) [p.s. Thanks Ron for the I.D.]

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(Probably a Porites spp. or Encrusting Montipora)

When we turn around to move near to the edge of the area known as the "coral rumble", Robert spotted a Tubeworm also known as Feather Duster Worm for its similar looking fan-shaped crown (radiole).

The Feather Duster is a very interesting animal especially to those who have not seen one before. This is probably due to how it protects itself when disturbed where it will quickly pull in its radiole into the tube. Lots of interactivity there. However do note that if it is severely stressed, it will discard its crown athough it can grow back again. The main purpose of their radiole is to filter out small floating organisms, which it will directs toward its mouth, located at the center of the crown.

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(Probably a Sabellastarte sp)

Soon after explaining the function of the feather duster's radiole, from a distance we heard Luan Keng shouting at us to warn that she receive a lightning warning and we are to clear to safe area in 15 mins. Upon hearding her warning, I looked up to the sky and notice from the far end, DARK clouds are gathering and instantaneously snapped this pix below.

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(Dark clouds approaching our direction. Pix taken about t 5-10mins the heavy downpour came. Ron has a few pix of the rain in his blog.)

While heading back, we realised that the next stop for us is actually the "STAR" of the whole trip, The Knobbly Sea Star. As we were already been chased to head back asap, din managed to spend much time on it and it sure was a pity that we had to end the whole guided walk way earlier than expected. Should the weather were good, I'm sure we could have seen alot more interesting animals.

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(The Knobbly Sea Star, Protoreaster nodosus)

The 2nd half of the guided walk was a tour round the island's landfill. This is where public education kick in hard. The message of 3 Rs (Reduce, Reused, Recycle) are emphasis.

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NEA has spend some efforts to decorate the phase 2 area of the landfill for recreation purposes.

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A shelter has oversees the Mindef Live firing area. Notice the 2 islands on the horizon?)

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Last but not least, a great example of reuse and recycle. The used tire of a truck has been recycled into a flowerpot (see the yellow with black strip circular object at the edge of the road)

After this 1st OJT, I couldn't wait to join the group for my 2nd OJT and hopefully this time, I can complete the whole walk. :D