Saturday, October 13, 2012

Girl Guides Fun at Chek Jawa Guided Walk

It is the time for the Naked Hermit Crabs' monthly guided walk at Chek Jawa.
Today I have arranged for my school's Girl Guides (student leaders only) to join us for the guided walk since they needed to do recee trip for their upcoming camp in November.

At the Ubin jetty, the captain (Mrs Teo) explains and show the guides about the granite rocks that can still be found near along the Ubin jetty and all the way in to the area in front of Pak Ali's shop.
Explaining about the granite rock next to the Ubin jetty.
The original Malay name of Pulau Ubin was Pulau Batu Jubin, which meant "Island of Granite Stones", because of the many granite quarries available to obtain these stones.

For their recee trip, they had the luxury of taking van rides to and from Chek Jawa. I had fun sharing some of the interesting stories along the journey to the guides as the van drives past the Headman's house, the route to Chek Jawa, the Pulai Tree. I shared about the ostriches which used to be found at the backyard of the Headman's house (I have seen the ostriches myself before they were being relocated). It's so interesting to hear the funny answers the students gave.

Upon arrival, I highlighted the presence of a bee hive in the roof of the Ubin map. Being leaders, the students need to understand their environment well and be on the look out for threats that might harm their group members. They are then given the task of finding out the name of the hut next to the alighting point - Punai Hut.

I proceeded on to show the girls about the rubber tree and explained how the latex from the rubber tree is tapped and collected. Unfortunately, the demonstration setup has been removed from the tree but there were still some traces of dried up latex along the tapping. The rubber tree needs to be tapped and the latex collected early in the morning, before the sun rises. Mrs Teo further elaborates that this is why we hear stories about rubber tappers being eaten up by pythons - probably due to the lack of light, the rubber tappers do not have a clear sight of their environment.
Me, sharing about rubber trees to the guides.
(Photo by Ria)
Just nice, it was time to report for the guided walk.

Brief introduction by Ley Kun
At the information kiosk, the crabs (nature guides of the Naked Hermit Crabs) have gathered with the visitors. I called order for the girl guides to assemble and Ley Kun gave a brief welcome and introduction to the girls, followed by a group photo taking session. I had the help of Chay Hoon, who guided the other half of this 22 ladies girl guides troop.

Along the boardwalk, a very friendly dog joined us. According to the NParks staff on duty, this dog comes from the Ubin town center and has been visiting Chek Jawa on a number of occasions. He did mention to me that this dog is expensive. The dog was rather well groomed and quite happy walking around in the mud, sniffing.
Friendly dog
I shared many interesting information with my group - Jejawi tower, Jejawi tree, Nipah palm, mudskippers, sea holly, tree-climbing crabs, mud lobster and its mount, the mangrove trees, marine animals... etc. I had to talk more as I am building up future nature guides. The girls were jotting down notes in their notebooks as they will be conducting the same walk for their Patrol members (Patrol in Girl Guides is similar to groupings, with each group having a leader as assistant leader).
View of the guides from the Jejawi Tower.
(Photo by Ria)
At our first sheltered rest stop, I noticed the usual mudskipper is sitting outside its hole. The only difference this time is that its hole is filled with water. During last month's guided walk, Ria saw a pair at the entrance. On closer look at my photo, it looks like a giant mudskipper has taken over the very same hole. I wonder what happened to the usual mudskipper.
Mudskippers seen during last month's walk.
(Photo by Ria)
Mudskipper at the entrance of its hole.
 What an unusual sight! A golden pupae was found. My group member and I had never seen such shiny pupae before. Chay Hoon saw it too. This is very intriguing and I have yet to identify the ID of this pupae. (Sorry for the poor image. My camera decided not to work its macro function on this.)
Mystery golden pupae seen.
At the end of the guided walk, the girls helped to contribute to our guestbook with what they saw/feel about Chek Jawa. (At this moment as I typed this post, I realised some did not get the full story about Chek Jawa.... Nevermind. It was already an information overload journey for them.)
KCGG working on their guestbook page
Referring to their camera for pictures.
(Photo by Ria)
I had a great time guiding my own students, sharing my information with them in the hoping that they will do a good job to their Patrol members. They are a lively and fun group of visitors.

The KC Girl Guides student leaders were given two assignments by me today:
1. Locate the hibiscus plant in the school.
2. Locate the rambutan tree in the school.

As the guided walk ends for the day, and being threatened by the approaching storm, the crabs retreated to the sisters' restaurant for our usual lunch dishes. I don't have photos of the food, just only empty plates and shells.
All cleared.
More photos will be added to this post when I have the links to the photos taken by other nature guides.

It's Nature Guides vs Girls Guides

Other posts about this trip:
WildShores - Family fun at Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A great gift for my greatest colleague

It is very difficult for me to get gifts for my friends, regardless of the occasion.
My greatest colleague is leaving school soon and she was the best working partner I ever had.
She being an art teacher, I decided to do something artistic and informative for her.

It was not an easy process deciding what to create for her. Since I had not use the modelling clay I bought long time ago, it was time to put into good use. The idea was to create a family of False clown anemonefish living in a sea anemone. The family will represent my colleague's family.

So here are the images of the product.
Incomplete work, mama fish on the anemone.
Incomplete work, top view.
Incomplete view, juvenile fish hiding in anemone.
Papa fish completed
Final arrangement
Final arrangement, angled view
Final product, in a display tank.
Gift comes complete with information sheet about the animals.
And... My colleague loves it.

TMSI @ St. John's Island 10th Anniversary Open House

I had the privilege of helping out in the recent 10th anniversary open house of Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) at St. John's Island, on 30th Sept. I was at the event as a volunteer of the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (CMBS) group.
Welcome banner at the entrance of TMSI
Through this event, I had the chance to see many interesting experiments and projects housed on this institute, one of which is Mei Lin's project on Giant clams. It was such an excitement to be able to see the baby giant clams.
Some of the giant clams out for visitors' viewing.
Tiny juvenile giant clams. So cute.
As a volunteer with CMBS for the open house, my station was the touch pools located outside the kitchen. I enjoy doing touch pool, showing visitors live animals ever since I did the live animal station at the Festival of Biodiversity in May this year. It so fun to see the before and after reactions of visitors touching the animals as they are inexperienced in holding live animals. At the same time, rough children creates sudden heart stops as they accidentally drop the animals into the pool.
Other volunteers manning the touch pool, with visitors around.
Ria manages to take a photo of me in action at the touch pool.
Photo by Ria
The CMBS volunteers did not manage the touch pool for the whole session. By noon, we were feeling more stressed than the animals in the pool due to the strong heat. It was difficult to stay long at the touch pool even though it was sheltered. Many of us disappeared into cooler areas after lunch.

I went to hide in the CMBS lab to cool off most of the time.
At the CMBS lab, many specimens collected during mudflat and dredging surveys were out on display.
There are also CMBS staff and volunteers helping out in the lab, explaining to visitors about the survey and the usefulness of the specimens collected.
CMBS lab
Some of the specimens on display:
Icon star and sea cucumber
Sea fan
Recently dead hermit crab. Helen says it died fighting in the touch pool.
Frog fish
In today's The Straits Times, the open house was reported and it had a picture of me showing an animal to Dr Tan Swee Hee's daughter. Unfortunately, they have cropped off my head. So the image only has my hands, with my left hand holding onto an animal. The Straits Times also has an online photo gallery here.
Newspaper article, The Straits Times, 2nd October 2012
To find out more about CMBS (a.k.a. Mega Marine Survey) and how you can volunteer, do visit the Mega Marine Survey blog.

More about the TMSI Open House from other blogs:


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