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, October 28, 2007

Team Seagrass at Chek Jawa

Today was a fine day when I step out of my house in Boon Lay. But 2 hours later, when I step out of the bus arriving at Changi Village, the heavy rain started... And we were to do our seagrass monitoring today!

By the time I reach the jetty, almost everyone was there and in no time, almost 20 people gathered and away to Pulau Ubin on the bumboat we went! By the time we got to the island's jetty, the rain got so heavy that we had to wait it out.

Eventually we still made it to Chek Jawa and wasted no time in getting down to business. Instead of the usual two groups, we spilt into three with one doing a new test site. As usual, I stuck to Site 1 for the sake of consistency of scientific data collection (so I claim =P).

Upon arriving at my Transect 1, I found something new and pretty-looking. Nice shade of purple for a stake eh?

A closer look... Notice the drills? And yea, those lovely purple stuff are actually drills' eggs, matured. The yellow ones are immature eggs. Thanks to Ron for identifying and pointing it out. These belong to Thais malayensis, identification courtesy of Dr. Tan Koh Siang, a molluscs expert.

Just as we thought the rain had died down, it started pouring on us again... and it made the monitoring tough. All the water were murked up.

This is the kind of shot of the quadrat you get before...

And after the downpour.

Despite the rain, I hopped along with a new Seagrasser, Jerial (Pardon me if your name is spelt wrongly. Please correct me.), to explore the area after we were done. And since we were free and Kok Sheng needed help for his project (http://cjproject.blogspot.com) which monitors Chek Jawa's mortality and recruitment after the mass death earlier this January. While helping him, I got the excuse to explore even more and once again, here goes the critter list.

Sandfish Sea Cucumbers

Another sea cucumber. Maybe a Cucumarid sp.? Id courtesy of Ron.

Brittle Star

Sand Star

Probably a Gymnanthenea sp.? Uncertain thou. (Scientific name courtesy of Ron, again.)

Sand Dollar

Carpet Anemone

Bristleworm/ Fireworm

And this one is another species of bristleworm. Guess it's a shorter and fatter version.

As the dusk drew near, I took this shot of Chek Jawa from its northern edge. Huge isn't it?

And this panoramic view of CJ from the tower (Thanks to Yuan Kai for putting it all together). Hope the future generations will get the chance to continue seeing this beautiful and amazing piece of Nature's wonder.

Naked Hermit Crab (NHC)'s Sentosa Guided Walk

The start of an eventful weekend began today with the a public guided nature walk with my nature group, the Naked Hermit Crabs (http://nakedhermitcrabs.blogspot.com) at Sentosa. There were about 20 odd participants, both adults and kids, who signed up for the Family Trail and Adventure Trail. Marcus and Helen led the Family Trail group while Ron, Ivan and me led the Adventure Trail group. July had to do the tough work of a seeker (someone who has to find stuff to look at). Despite the tide not receding low enough, we decided to begin the walk with some terrestrial stuff.

I'm sure everyone knows about the Underwater World in Sentosa, but are you aware of the real underwater world behind? This is where it all begins. On the way to the starting point, Ron introduced some of the plants and trees like the Sea Almond tree and Seashore Pandan that grew along the path. Then it was time for the coastal walk.

This group is led by Ivan and seems like they are all looking at something. You bet for there are a lot to see and here goes the list!

Sargassum, a type of brown seaweed.

Branching corals, usually in mass.

Mushroom coral, free-living species that are not attached to the reef, unlike most other corals.

Omelette leathery coral

Carpet anemone

Sponge (Before you start wondering, it's an animal that feeds by filtering the water)

Another sponge, but bright blue in colour, possibly used to ward off possible predators.

Drill, a type of snail which secretes some sort of acid that can soften the shells of clams. They will then slowly drill through and feed on the insides.

Turban snail, showing the hemi-spherical operculum, which looks like a 'cat's eye'.

Volcano barnacle. Barnacles are usually hermaphrodites aka both male and female. But instead of self-fertilise, they will mate with neighbouring barnacles. Since they can't move, they have the longest male organ to body size ratio of the animal kingdom so that they can reach far away.

Onchidium, a cute slug which breathes through an opening alongside its anus and always leaves a trail of waste when it moves.


Kite butterfly fish

Black sea cucumber, hiding in a crevice.

Leaf slug which sucks sap of algae and keeps the choroplast in order to photosynthesize to provide itself with extra nutrients. Wonder of Nature eh? If only humans can do that, but then again... we will all be green...

A Nudibranch, meaning 'naked gills' and is derived from the extensions on their body which is used for breathing. Once again, another hermaphrodite.

File fish

Flatworm, hm... a worm that is flat? Not an expert here... Ha...

Hairy crab

Half-time. Now we go landwards a little, exploring the natural caves and admire the pink shade of the cliff which is caused by iron oxide. Here you can see the Raffles Pitcher plant, a 'carnivorous' plant which digest the insects that falls in with the digestive fluid in its 'pitcher'.


Here you see my adventure trail group, the swimming crabs! This was taken in front of a rock formation which clearly had an eroded path. Sandstone being a soft rock was slowly eroded by the water waves, leaving the distinction from the hard granite.

Wondering what's the hustle about? You bet it's something good.

Now you know why? An octopus! More often you see it on your dinner table, but this is a live, wild one. Sure beats seeing a dead one.

Now final round of the nature critters, courtesy of July, Marcus and Helen, all gathered at a spot. Although they were stored in plastic containers, they are only meant for the participants to get a closer look. It's only temporary and all were released shortly after so as to minimise the stress on them. So here goes...

Copper-banded butterfly fish. It sometimes feeds on coral polyps. At the end of its dorsal fin, a large eye-epot may help to confuse would-be predators that the fish is actually some other larger animal or make them aim for the tail instead of the real head.

Another nudibranch, commonly termed as Discodoris after its scientific name Discodoris boholensis

Mosaic crab, the most poisonous crab in Singapore.

Those were the highlights and of course there were more, like another leaf slug, a moulted shell of a brown egg crab, dove lightning snails, blue swimming crab etc. And of course there were so much more that was seen like seagrass, nerite snails etc. When it is best experienced if you visit the place yourself. Visit NHC's website for information of future walks.

It was a fantastic day and as dusk drew near, sadly we had to call it a day. Nevertheless, all the participants had a feast of what Singapore's shores had to offer and hope that this will continue to promote the awareness of Singapore's very own Nature!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Food for Thought - How the poor people live

Being someone who takes time to reflect occasionally, I know the power of such thoughts. This is also the reason why I took on a liking for community and outreach projects. Hence I decided to add a small section to the blog called, 'Food for thought', hoping it will play an effect upon someone, someday...

The following will be the very first entry - one that was sent to me by a Rover of mine. Enjoy!


One day, the father of a very wealthy family--living in the city--took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how the poor people live.

The father wanted the experience to really "sink in" so they spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yeah," said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered:

"I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a beautiful winding creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.

Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!
"Life is too short and friends are too few."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Scout Youth Forum - Back in Singapore (Leave contacts here)

After the small feast, we began on our journey back to NYC. It was horrible as some of us were already damn sleepy. As most people would already know, thanks to Edward for that, we usually have small meeting sessions at night, usually lasting till 1 or 2 am. So the accumulation of sleep deprivation hit us this time as some of us actually were 'sleep-walking' our way back to NYC. Muhd even nearly clashed with the gates at the side of the pathway. Haha... And boy, it was freezing....

For Jean, Alan and Muhd, it was okay for them as they got the chance to continue their trip. But for Sarah, Steph, Aru and I, we had to return back to Singapore. It was so sad as we couldn't bear to leave... Although this was not my first APR event, but it was so much more memorable than others. As we bid farewell to Japan, we left with a heavy heart...

Upon reaching Narita Airport (which we slept throughout the bus ride), we looked for a place to settle down and had our breakfast. After breakfast, we went for some last minute shopping spree. Sarah, Steph and Aru ended carrying like 3 to 4 hand carry bags up the plane... They really know how to shop man...

Okay... this is the most embarrassing and worse part of our trip... It was about 11.30am (Japan time) when we got on the plane and got ourselves settle down but the flight was delayed by 10 minutes as clearance was not given yet. Then...I can't remember what happened! You know why? Cause the four of us concussed before the plane even flew! The air hostess even had to put Steph's seat belt on for her cause she forgot to put it on before she concussed!

The next thing I remember was that I woke up at 1pm plus, with the air hostess serving some snacks and drinks. I attempt to wake Aru and Sarah up by shaking them but in vain... they were really deep in their dreamlands... I decided to watch a movie, which I can't remember watching the whole thing too since I was dozing off now and then... It was about 2pm plus that lunch was served. Only then the three of them woke up. But not for long as, all four of us fell asleep again after lunch all the way till the plane arrived in Singapore... Now you know how tired we were... But wait there's more...

After going through the customs, we went to collect our baggages. So we arrive at the conveyor belt waiting for our baggage. After about 5 minutes, Sarah said she saw her baggage so we waited for it to come round. After about another 5 minutes, we find something amiss... we didn't see our baggage. Then I took a look at the sign and great... for almost 10 minutes, we were like idiots standing at the conveyor belt waiting for something that will not appear.... cause we were at the WRONG conveyor belt! Ours were like two belts away.... Sarah then labeled us as 'Losers'. Period...

That's all for the adventures in Japan. Couldn't include everything thou. I really regret not extending my stay to the conference as I did not know that I wouldn't have started work yet. I really miss such a great chance. Sorry to all my new friends that I couldn't stay to enjoy your company even more. Perhaps we will be able to see each soon! Maybe at the end of the year in Australia for the rover moot or in Korea next year for the World Scout Youth Forum and Conference! I hope I'll be able to go! See ya all.

Do spread this blog around. Perhaps we can use this last blog entry's comment column as a form of communication especially for leaving your contacts as I believe not everyone has name cards during the forum. Enjoy!! Thanks for making my possibly last Rover event so memorable!

Leave your contacts as a comment to this blog entry.

Scout Youth Forum, Tokyo - 15th Oct 07

Today is the day. The last day of the forum and also the day of the election of the new YAMG. Everything important is here today. We started off the morning with the recommendation that was compiled by our hardworking steering committee, whom I have to acknowledge as they spent their time the night before doing it. Many did not realised but they did not go out for the Tokyo tour along with the rest. Kudos to you guys and gals!

P1040252After the recommendation came the important part of the forum. The 9 candidates were introduced once again and the voting procedures were explained. Then it was time for the first round of election whereby only the top three will get elected. The voting is a secret vote and was tallied by the Valeria from Macau and Kevin from French Polynesia, accompanied by Syd Castillo.

P1040262While the votes were being tallied, an award presentation was held. It was for Aru and me for completing the Scouts of the World Award. Australia was the first in APR to award it, and now followed by Singapore. Muhd went up to introduce SWA and what was done by the base in Singapore. Then it was time for the award ceremony. It was such an honour to have the award presented by Mari Nakano. Couldn't get better than this.

P1040267P1040269Soon after, the results came in and it was announced. First in was Nikketah McGrath from Australia, second was Manabu Hiratsuka from Japan and third was... Sarah Ho Wing Kei from Singapore!!! Hip hip hurray for Sarah!! She got in! But wait... for those in NRC, I guess you know what that means. Hehe... Then it was time for the second round. After knowing who got in, the delegates can now vote to balance committee, allowing both sub-regions and gender equality. Once again the votes were then to be tallied.

P1040274P1040278Another presentation was held again while waiting. This time is to a great guy I got to know through the discussion topic. It was Andrew Bartle from New Zealand. He was presented by Mari Nakano his Queen's Scout Award, the highest award in New Zealand. Congratulations Andy!! Soon after his presentation, the final list of the successful candidates were announced. Fourth in was Karma Coden from Bhutan, followed by Rio Ashadi from Indonesia and last but not the least, a young man – Muller Bato from Philippines. Congratulations to all!

P1040288P1040290 It was a long morning! At last it was done with and lunch proceeded. After lunch, came the closing ceremony. After some closing speeches, all the participants were then presented with certificates for the forum. The delegates were then called upon to receive plaques from SAJ. Most countries also presented back to the host plaques and gifts as a token of appreciation. After the ceremony ended, more photos were being snapped as it was going to be the last chance for some of us... Damn it... why do I have to leave tomorrow...

P1040323P1040361As for our last dinner, it was also our cultural exchange night too. We all got dressed in our national wear and got together for a major celebration with performances put up by every country's participants. The food was definitely great and so were the performances! There was so much to talk about I just simply can't put everything here... Well, one thing for sure, the night was not over for Singapore as we went out for a long, long walk and had a small feast of our own. We only returned at 4.15am... which the story will continue after this entry...