Purpose of NatureScouter

This blog will address mainly two issues - Nature and Scouting.

The purpose of Nature blogs is to educate and promote the awareness of Singapore’s and global environmental and conservation issues to the public and the Scouting community. The Scouting-related blogs serve the similar purpose by promoting the World’s largest youth movement and its activities to the public.

This blog was created thanks to the persistent demands of all my dear friends to blog, and on my 25th birthday, this blog was born.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Team Seagrass at Pulau Semakau

I was so excited yesterday. I'd joined TSG ever since it started and been to all the CJ's sessions and several others. However, whenever it comes to P. Semakau, it always clashes with my other commitments. Not this time! And to many others who already knew me well, it came as a surprise to them that it's my virgin trip to the island too!

Andy kindly gave me a lift from my secondary school where I was having my usual Scout meeting. Then we went to Nparks BioD centre to pick up the equipments, and of course Siti, Wei Ling and Nor Aishah too. Andy had volunteered to arrange for this trip and that included buying the food so we stopped by International Plaza to grab some 'Polar' pastries.

Upon reaching Marina South Pier, most of us were there. As we were boarding, there was still one person missing - our dear Dickson... Well, eventually he made in time, but not without any consequences. He was later assigned to the furthest site and had to blog on the trip for the TSG's blog.

The boat ride was pretty long - longer than expected. Once I set foot on the island, it felt very different from others. It was very peaceful and the scenery was amazing from the pier.


In two groups, we took turns on the van to entrance of the forest. We then had to trek through the infamous 'mosquito forest'. Indeed worthy of its name...

But once out of the forest at the coastal region, the sight is surreal, considering the island is a landfill for our rubbish.

We were then to arranged into the groups for the survey. My partner was suppose to be Marcus and we were allocated Site 1, the nearest. When I thought I would have a easy time, I was wrong... Ria 'kicked' Marcus and I out. Then when Siti was arranging the rest, Marcus told me to lie low and perhaps we might escape from being allocated then we can happily explore. "Marcus!" Siti shouted and there goes Marcus into Site 2 and soon after I followed in his trails... My new partners were then Gaytri and coincidentally, Jerald, who was with me for CJ previously.

Site 2 was termed the lagoon, which I soon knew why... I had the honour to lay the transect, so off I went running the tape. Step by step, I soon start to sink deeper into the ground. Right in the middle, I was submerged up to my thighs... It reminded me of the mud sinking days where I did snake hunting with Chee Kong in Sungei Buloh, it was all mud and you can see where or what ya stepping on. But you can't see anything here at all except the overcrowded seagrass and macro algae... So have to watch where you step.

Well, I was not the only who consistently get stuck or sunk into the mud. Gaytri and Jerald did a fair job at that too. And of course, our dear Siti was not spared from the soft mud.

Site 2 also have many species of seagrasses, which made it even harder. A single quadrat could easily consists of four different species. Eventually, we managed to get used to the ID and finished almost an hour later. And off we went for the most awaited portion of the trip, shore exploration.

Enhalus acoroides (tape seagrass) was in bloom. Plenty of male flowers could be seen floating around. They were release from their bracts. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the female flowers or I'm just blind perhaps...

In the area where sponges and corals were, a few critters were found.

Like this upside down jellyfish. Due to the presence of the symbiotic algae in its tentacles, being upside down would be optimal for sun exposure required for photosynthesis.

Not one but two Discodoris boholensis were spotted. I've previously seen this at Sentosa.

I spotted this bi-valve (alive) but have no idea what it is. Doesn't look anything like what I have seen before. Anyone?

Dawn then spotted this. It's a type of sea slug but yet to be ID-ed. Anyone?

Ron then pointed this out to me. It's a sunflower mushroom coral. I've seen mushroom corals, but this has extended tentacles.

Last but not the least, Chay Hoon spotted this just before Siti yelled at us to gather back. It's a Denison's nudibranch. Rare one it seems, as Ron have never seen it on Semakau before.

As the tide rose, we returned back to the main road. This time round, no van for us so we had to walk back. Boy, it was long, but the walk allowed us to take in the beauty of the place and a chance to talk to the other seagrassers.

Although this is the last trip for the year, but I'm already looking forward to another wonderful year ahead!

More on the trip at Ron's and TSG's blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

News Flash - Northern Exposure, 30-ha site in Mandai to be nature retreat

TODAY (Pg. 2), Wednesday, 21 November 2007.

Nature retreat. Nice idea, but on the already space-limited island? Mandai? Is it going to be near the Central Catchment Reserve? If so, will another case like in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) happen again?

I did another research project along side my final year project and it was pertaining to BTNR's history and present condition. As Singapore was plagued by social trend of having developments near green spots, invasions have been taking place around the reserve.

As of the latest statistics, a total of 14 condominiums, all within 2 kilometers of BTNR, are developed or in the process of completion and they have a total projected residency of about 15,000 people (Chatterjea et al., 2007). Imagine the kind of impact this has on the reserve. There is always a limit to the carrying capacity of a reserve. Due to Singapore's location near the Equatorial Convergence Zone, BTNR used to have the richest biodiversity in the world. Partial credits to such urban and industrial development, gone along with some of the forests was the rich diversity of fauna and flora (Ooi, 1998).

Perhaps, before we are going to be more 'developed', we should consider the plight of our very own Nature. You can't 'develop' Nature as you wish.

Chatterjea, K. et al, 2007. Development and environment: The constant battle. In Ooi, G.L., Chatterjea, K., Chang, C.H. and Lim, K.Y.T., Geographies of a changing world: Global issues in the early 21st century. (pp 145-178). Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Ooi, G.L., 1998. Environment and the city. Sharing Singapore’s experience and future challenges. Singapore: Federal Publications (S) Pte Ltd, pp. 1-12, 185-199.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

News Flash - Sentosa, Schools To Jointly Restore Primary Forest

Decided to put up another label called News Flash, describing any relevant issues. And here's the first.

TODAY (Pg. 8), Tuesday, 20 November 2007.

"The Sentosa Leisure Group is embarking on a project to restore a primary forest on the resort island for the first time. It will invest an initial $200,000 to kick off its efforts and has roped in 150 pupils to help write this green chapter in the history books.

With guidance from Sentosa and nature experts, nine schools have adopted plots across 12 to 15 hectares to grow native plant species from around the region.

Sentosa's nature reserve now comprise essentially secondary coastal forests, some of which are rather sparse and low in quality, resulting from historical clearing of the forest in the early 19th Century."

Hmmm... restoring primary forest? Is it possible to restore a primary forest other than just letting nature take its course? Once you touch it, doesn't it just become another secondary patch...? Just wondering...

Description of primary forest from Greenfacts:
Primary forests are forests of native tree species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Food for Thought - Little Froggies

Typical but still inspiring at times.

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs.... who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. ...

The race began....

Honestly: No one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as: 'Oh, WAY too difficult!!', 'They will NEVER make it to the top.' or 'Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!'

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one.... Except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher....

The crowd continued to yell, 'It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!'

More tiny frogs got tired and gave up.... But ONE continued higher and higher and higher.... This one wouldn't give up!

At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?

A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal?

It turned out.... That the winner was DEAF!!!!

The wisdom of this story is:

Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic... because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart!

Always think of the power words have. Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions!

Therefore: ALWAYS be...POSITIVE!

And above all: Be DEAF when people tell YOU that you cannot fulfill your dreams!

Always think: God and I can do this!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Team Seagrass at Clean and Green Jamboree

Clean and Green Jamboree was held over 3rd and 4th November at Bishan Park. Team Seagrass set up a booth at the event on 3rd Nov to showcase and publicize our work. Once again... I forgot to bring my camera... But Kok Sheng blogged about it. You can find out more here.

As I was there for the last shift from 6 to 9pm with Andy, Gaytri and Nor Aishah, we had the opportunity to meet our PM, who was there to grace and launch the event.

Stationed at the booth and interacting with the public on what is Team Seagrass and related Nature stuff.

Our booth graced by PM with Gaytri and Andy playing host to him. (Both photos courtesy of Nor Aishah.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Naked Hermit Crab at Wildlife Stampede

A stampede was going on today, but not the Africa one. It's a Wildlife Stampede with world renowned Dr Jane Goodall. It was her who has been my inspiration to maybe one day work with primates, particular with my favourite Orang Utan.

Naked Hermit Crabs were at Botanic's Children Garden to witness the event. As we soon came to realised... we're a little over-aged... seeing all the kids around... Well, who cares! We were there to have fun! And here's a shot of the crabbies

From left to right - November, July, Me, Chay Hoon, May and Marcus.

And here's our naked butts! (Both pictures courtesy of July)

We all then gathered around the starting point to await our special guest and soon enough, she arrived.


Have been reading about Dr Goodall for a long time, but seeing her in person is just a different and great feeling.

After a short message by the emcee and Dr Goodall, we started the wildlife stampede - a parade around the garden, which ended at the stage with a series of performances.

Here's a look at the 'wildlife' of the parade.

All dressed up in vibrant colours.


A cute little turtle and ...

Here's the little guy in that costume.

Mr Crocky

Spidey and Duckie

Cats and Zebras in harmony

Giant Doves






Camel and a penguin following behind

Bees and a little butterfly. Of course there were alot more. Doubt I can fit everything in and I was too happy fooling around that taking pictures was not my top agenda. Haha...

Look at the huge crowd!

Eventually, the event ended around 7pm with a presentation to ten of the best dressed groups/individuals, which definitely did a great job. A long day and walk but all the crabbies had a great day out!!