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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Marine little critters

Wonder what you see on intertidal trips are all that you see? Ever ponder what could be all around you in the very water you stand? I did some water sieving using a fine net among the seagrasses, and even to my very own surprise... the following are what you can get!

Note: Everything here are smaller than 1cm (10mm), with some almost undistingushable with naked eye.

Cool looking shrimps, both carrying eggs.

Mini gastropods.


Another two different type of amphipods.

Isopods, one green and one translucent just like the shrimps.

Two different types of copepods.

Seen a baby crab before? But not all baby crabs look like their parents as they go through a larva stage which is what you see here.

From left: Arrowhead worm, unknown nematod.

'Baby' bristle worm. This is just slightly longer than 1cm.

AND a nudibranch?!?! Cool eh? Anyone know what's this?

Never over look the micro organism in the water! You never know what surprises await you!

Pulau Tioman, Malaysia

I was with Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research in Tioman to conduct a field study camp for Hwa Chong Institute. Being my first time there, it was a pretty good experience. The biodiversity there was rather familiar with the occasional new stuff. Also had a good snorkeling experience, seeing crown of thorns, cushion sea star, damn lots of sea urchins, damn lots of corals, damn lots of reef fishes. With no waterproof cameras, I can show nothing. Perhaps the others will put something up.

Beautiful view outside my room.

With the occasional rainbow after the rain.

Due to shortage of time, the photos are once again in montage style.




Damn lots of stuff, damn little time. Damn... I'm using too much... 'damn'...?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


No, it's not Star Wars or Star Trek! It's STAR TRACKERS!

It is a monitoring programme of Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodusus) initiated by Chee Kong and me. It all started when I was sending CK photos of P. nodusus whenever I find any on my field trips, knowing that he was doing a study on them. One fine day, we just logged on MSN and discuss about them. That's it - STAR TRACKERS was borned.

For more information of what STAR TRACKERS is about, visit here.


This is not just a scientist's project. The public can be involved too! If you happen to be walking along a shore or on any guided nature walks and find a Knobbly sea star, you can help to gather the data too! Look here to find out more on how can you play a part in this!

First two monitoring sessions at Cyrene Reef were a success! Being able to identify them as individuals, we can easily monitor their population and growth over time! Look here and here for records of individual mug shots. I have personally named C0022 (Photo above) as 'White Chip', as the knobs are of an unusual white instead of black, reminding me of white chocolate chips. C0020 and C0025 are also easily recognisable - the former with only 5 central knobs and the latter with so many knobs, enough to form almost a circle around its central disc! =D

Just two trips alone, the results are shocking! Total of 62 individuals were found! This means there are at least 62 Knobblies living on Cyrene Reef itself, and definitely much more out there! Play your part in this programme by sending in your sightings, and watch the numbers grow!!

Go Star Troopers!

Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Ria for allowing us to leech on her trips to conduct Star Tracking. Also thanks to all those who helped us locate the Knobblies, plant the flags, and eventually collect the flags back.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alicia at Cyrene Reef

Just as in the Greek mythology, where Cyrene captures Apollo's heart - Cyrene Reef has captured our hearts and deeply mesmerized us with her beauty. First, she revealed her star jewel, which instead of splashing across the sky, it was splashed all over the news.

Now she reveals a 'daughter' of hers, Alicia. And this is how she looks like.

As stunning (literally) as Cyrene herself, Alicia flows with grace and dresses well.

She even puts gloss on her lips, and has dyes of pink streaks!

This is actually a sea anemone, Alicia sp. As quoted from Dr. Daphne Fautin, an expert in sea anemones:
"WONDERFUL!!!! This is a member of Family Aliciidae, which is one of those on which my graduate student is concentrating. So there is another one for her to seek when we visit Singapore! And it is an addition to our growing list. It is probably Alicia, of which there are 2-3 known species that this might be. My student will be looking at type specimens during the next six months, so will soon have a very good idea of the features distinguishing each."

This particular anemone was found by someone (you know who you are. =D) during the recent trip to Cyrene Reef. This family of sea anemones are rare and they can sting fairly severely. At night, the anemone spreads its crown of tentacles and expands its stalk decorated with numerous distinct outgrowths called pseudotentacles. During the day, the tentacles and the stalk contract, and the animal looks like a mass of clustered berries. Hence, many people who see this animal during the day don't recognize it as an anemone.

Pseudotentacles usually have stinging cells (nematocysts) similar to those in the tentacles. The function of the nematocysts differ, however. In pseudotentacles, they are used in defense, while in the crown tentacles, they capture food. Pseudotentacles may be highly branched and loaded with algal cells called zooxanthellae. In such cases, the pseudotentacles are exposed to light during the day and the algal cells photosynthesize. At night, the tentacles expand and the animal feeds on particles in the water.

Once again, Cyrene has amazed us with her biodiversity. Are there more out there? I betcha. Let us hope for the best for Cyrene and her amazing biodiversity!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Team Seagrass at Pulau Semakau

It's back to Semakau again. Count number three.

Morning was good till we reach Semakau - it started pouring... So we decided to slack a little, excuse being to wait out the rain, and had a short briefing right at the doorsteps of the NEA building. When the downpour changed into a drizzle, we started off on foot to the shore.

Today I'm paired with Yixin, a newbie of TSG. I didn't realise one thing till Jerald (coordinator of the day) brought it up. This is his third TSG trip and for the past two, I've been always his buddy. Jerald was like complaining why Siti broke the two of us up. Lol...

Nevertheless, newbie saved me from the recurring nightmares of my initial smart excuse... OOPS! I meant reasoning, which came back to bite me. To the hell with Site 2! Here I come Site 1!

Site 1 Transect 2 is really interesting. There was lesser and lesser seagrass cover as we went down the line, to virtually empty barren sand. From left: Quadrat at 5m, 25m and 45m.

With the speedy work, Yixin and me started exploring. Other than the usual corals everywhere, it was a little disappointing as there wasn't much.

From top left, clockwise: Possibly a Oulophyllia sp.??, Lobophyllia sp., Goniopora sp. and Galaxea sp.

Large amount of squid egg capsules.

Cute little puffer fish that ram ashore, while darting around in the water. Saves us the trouble catching it to photograph.

While walking, Ayesha (another newcomer, correct me if I get your name wrongly) nearly step on this... A monitor lizard soaking itself in the cooling water just by the reef edge! It was huge, at least a good 1.5m. Neat!

Found this Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica). Too bad Nemo's not home...

Saw this beauty on the way back also. Don't know the ID of this flatworm thou.

Chay Hoon and I was trying to find our usual nudis, but was not in much luck till...

She spotted this Glossodoris atromarginata. The only nudi for me today...

Being the usual eagle-eyed Chay Hoon, she spots this too.
Looks familiar? I know ya going to say mushroom coral, but it is not. It was about 4-5cm in diameter, and in fact is an anemone! No idea of the ID, awaiting confirmation.

Despite the rain, it's still a nice day. Especially with the lunch at Botanic Gardens, where everyone gobbled up their food and stoned. =D

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sedili, Johor, Malaysia

Was with a group of friends in Sedili over Labour Day weekend.

Wonderful place with a spectacular view, accompanied by amazing flora and fauna.

Apart from a nice rocky shore, there's also mangroves and forest.

And of course, not forgetting two mornings of beautiful sunrise...

And here's the flora and fauna of Sedili in montage style.


Never had a holiday for quite some time and this was definitely worth it!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Super Star in the News!

Remember this Super Star of Cyrene Reef (Pentaceraster mammillatus)? It's up in the news!!

For those who missed it (like me... couldn't get a copy by the time I reached back in SG), visit here and here.

Note: My green rubber tubing is in the photo! Hahaha...