bio fieldtrip to sedili

17 03 2008

Hello! The past week has been an eventful one, despite it being the school holidays. Thus, I’m here to regale you with the tales of how we (and many other members of the rgs upper sec community[39], including a few bio teachers[5]) spent the Thursday and Friday of the March holidays of 2008. (:

We met in school at the *gasp* early hours of six fifty a.m, as the bus was due to set off at seven a.m. Amidst many yawns and excited chatterings, our trip thus began in the school foyer, accompanied by our guide, Mr Andrew Tay, where we were divided into our groups. These groups had really….. interesting names. (Coconut, Palm, Rubber, Pineapple… not very common for group names, are they?)

The bus ride to the Felda oil palm mill was an extremely long one, resulting in many students ‘ dozing off during the ride. As we stared out the window at the black and white clouds in the air spewing from their respective pipes, someone jokingly commented that the factory produced rainclouds. We then had an interesting talk about how the Oil Palm’s Fresh Fruit Bunch is processed and refined and finally becomes crude palm oil, while the other products from the processing were made use of as well (e.g. bunch ash – fertiliser etc). We took a walk in the plantation to learn more about the life there, and we learnt about things like how the green stuff on moss is actually haploid! wow! only the little small hair things are diploid, as they produce gametes. [a diploid cell has twice the number of chromosomes as a haploid cell. in human beings, our cells are mostly diploid.]

Later on in the day, we checked in to our resorts at Tanjung Sutera and were preparing for our coastal survey (fieldwork, using transects), when it started raining heavily. The downpour continued for at least half an hour, and after the rain lessened, we went out to take a look at the diversity of the creatures dotting the shores. Some interesting catches included a baby mudskipper (which we promptly released soon after catching), a wide variety of crabs, a horseshoe crab shell, and goose barnacles. 😀 of course, these are only a few of the many cool creatures we spotted, we couldn’t possibly catch all of them, could we?

Dinner was an sumptuous and exciting affair, with cutlass-shaped toothpicks/forks, which a few of us used to “fight”. (: In a bid for self-amusement, we also attempted to use the mats on which our food was placed as Imperial Edicts from ancient china. In fact, we had a whole story written out! [Such a pity that at the end, we forgot we wanted to take a photo of a fight with the ants as well, though.. ): ]

At night, we had a lesson on the intertidal ecology, then we went out to catch frogs! A four-lined tree frog was found in one of the toilets, so it was promptly caught and placed among the water lilies in the pond. The air was thick with noise, such as the “eh-eh” of the painted chorus frog, and the loud rumbling of the banded bullfrog. We also saw an Asiatic Toad. We spotted many many many frogs that night, especially the round banded bullfrogs in the pond, and at many intervals, shrieks could be heard as a frog hopped about or out of its plastic container.(:
The next morning, we rose early to do intertidal transects of the rocky shore, to investigate the patterns we might see, and how these were affected by the factors. e.g. how the mid-intertidal region has the greatest diversity. During this period of time, we saw many marine creatures such as the sea anemone, sea cucumber, and corals.

Throughout the trip, we also had many discussions and presentations, and valuable lessons, like how Mr Andrew Tay taught us how to draw technical drawings by starting from basic shapes.

Naturally, as like many other trips, it felt like it ended too soon. ): Hope to go on another such trip soon….

For more information including pictures of the various organisms sighted during the Sedili trip, please visit Biosphere.

Leaf-Porter Crabs

6 03 2008

Here is a short write up about these unique species of crabs, Leaf-porter crabs, scientific name, Neodorippe Callida.

The Leaf-porter crab, as the name suggests, carries a leaf (or any other light, floating debris) on its back! Its last 2 legs are modified to carry objects, and has sharp hooks on its legs to gripe floating leaves. (the one we saw was carrying a piece of plastic!)

They are generally scavengers, and due to their carrying a leaf on their back, are master camouflagers! They usually appear at dusk and are attracted to fishing lights and do not usually grow to a very large size.

We sure hope we’ll see more of these wonderful crabs!(: