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.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crinoid Hunt at Hantu

It's been a long time since my last entry. Just got so busy after my Korea's World Scout Youth Forum and Conference. But here I am again!

It was another hunt, but this time for crinoids or what you would call feather stars. Two researchers from Japan (Dr. Yoshihisa Fujita & Mr. Masami Obuchi) led the team.

Stupidly enough, I didn't take a single photo of any crinoids... but nonetheless a bunch of the usual critters found, with a couple of nice finds.

The octopuses were all out to play. Saw like 7 or 8 of them... big and small...

Fishes! No idea what the hell are these... Ain't a fishy guy here.

But I sure know this is a flathead or also known as a crocodile fish. Found quite a few of them embedded in the sand.

Also found quite a few anemones with clownfish or better know as Nemo. Even found a baby nemo measuring about 1cm long only!!


Crabbie eating a snail. Escargot?

Flatworms. Apparently the one on the left is usually only seen during dives and not on intertidal. Wondering why is it doing at the intertidal area...

Nudis!! Can't remember the names...

A transparent peacock anemone. Have seen this a few times, and always by chance.

Hunter in action. This sea anemone was happily feasting on a tiny fish (about 1cm). This too was transparent and once again spotted by chance. Perhaps it's the silver sheen of the fish that gave away it's location.

A little something I've learnt from the researchers. Using an old photo as an example.
- Baby crinoids are born with only 5 arms!!
- Crinoids autotomise their arms at the base in order to grow more arms!!
- Crinoids are ID-ed by the number of segments in their arms and cirri!!
- They are a very difficult group to ID!! Duhz...
- Colour and patterning may or may not be unique within species...

Something new learnt everyday!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


23 August 2008 marks the LEAP. Not having little froggies hopping around, but rather L.E.A.P - Leading Expeditions: A Problem?

L.E.A.P. is the first networking and resource sharing platform that Youth Expedition Project (YEP) is organizing specially for student leaders who are keen to embark on the journey of leading teams abroad for Overseas Community Service Projects.

A huge crowd of 110 youth leaped on down to *Scape Youth Centre for the event!

They were treated to a feast of experiences and information from YEP alumni and staff. It started off with a simple ice breaker by Jared. Having spilt the participants into countries of their interest or involvement, the youth not only exchanged names but also information and experiences with each other. There was so much to discuss that they had to be stopped for the next segment.

First up was the all time experienced and familiar Mr. Goh Ann Tat (Below left). "Why take the LEAP? - Are you there to save the world?" was his focus. His informative and interesting presentation sure got everyone start thinking of their journey.


Next it was a sharing session by ex-leaders Jonathan and Boon Kian (Above right) on their project, " Project First Step" which was done last year. Plenty of photos flashed across the screen and captivated the participants for sure.

Most important part was up next - Tea Break!! Oops, should I say Networking Tea Break. The word 'Networking' should be more important, also considering the fact that it comes before the words' Tea Break' or not in parenthesis. Enough said, photo speaks louder than words.

Intermission over and it's sharing Part II. Khariyah shared her project (Amor) experience and things that you will come across and learn throughout the project. It was really nice to have someone speaking so passionately.

Next up was me for Project Sirius... and I must say it was not well done. Didn't have time to do any ppt, so I marked down on a piece of paper what I wanted to touch on and shared. Lesson learnt for me... but I was right in one thing - no one in the room was going to do projects on conservation and environment. After asking the participants and receiving a null response, I turned and looked at Dawn and Shu Hui and said, "See... I told you so!" and we bursted out laughing. Of course, the publicity for such projects started, with the indication of the article I wrote for the first YEP journal.

Up next was a YEP veteran, who has led 7 projects - Jared, along with Zheng Ping, another experienced leader. They talked about the Guerrilla Guide and Expedition.SG. They also shared on the various resources and yahoo groups that are available. No doubts they are the YEP professionals.

Last but not the least, YEP sharing on application process, training & resources and the new mentorship programme. Interestingly staged, Dawn, Shu Hui, Siti and Yasmin put up a skit to intrigue the audience. A breath of fresh air I must say!

All in all, the presenters put up a good show and I'm sure the participants enjoyed and benefited from it. So I can conclude that the goal of YEP - 'Return Richer', was met.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Earth Hour at the World Scout Youth Forum

First started in Syndey, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour globalized in 2008. But why only a day every year? The Singapore Scout Association's Youth Delegation to the 10th World Scout Youth Forum is bringing Earth Hour to Korea!

'Earth Hour in Korea' is fortunate to have the blessings of the World Scout Youth Forum planning committee, Korea Scout Association and Wonkwang University (venue of the Forum). Let's make the impact in Korea and spread it around to all the regions in the world! Who knows this might jolly well be the start of a common practice at all Youth Forums across the globe!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Star Tracking at Cyrene #3

Been quite occupied with work and Scouting for this couple of months. It will continue till after July I'm sure... Nonetheless, managed to dig out time for a Cyrene trip yesterday for Star Tracking. This time round, CK and I tested a new site.

The sky was gloomy alright, but hey who will complain when it doesn't r***. Soon the sun greeted the regular visitors of Cyrene with the company of a few newbies.

CK and I wasted no time in surveying the new area and soon the stars started appearing despite the bright daylight. I'll save the star photos for CK to put on STAR TRACKERS. As with the usual monitoring, there's no time to walk around and snap much. However, today was few but good.

Not sure what was this exactly - Cushion sea star (Culcita novaeguinea) or Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera). Didn't think of snapping a photo of the underside as everything was in a mad rush - It was a 'snap and go'.

Update: KS mentioned that this is most probably a Cushion sea star as he has seen the juvenile of its kind and it's similar. Thanks KS!

This Nepanthia sp. was well hidden beside a Knobbly that I was measuring.

You can easily find Peacock Anemone (Cerianthus sp.) almost on every shore. They come in beautiful colours - orange, white, green, yellow etc.

But this particular one was a first for me. A black/dark purplish beauty as I would call it.

Of course, not forgetting my favourite nudibranchs. This find was a lucky one as I only saw this Dendrodoris denisoni moving while staring at a Knobbly. This one is about 7-8cm. The photo does the nudi no justice as the spots are suppose to be neon blue instead of grey...

This fellow is an amazing example of survival. When I found it, it was actually lodged sideways in the seagrass with the arms sticking out. CK and I assumed it was just normal till I picked it up, revealing a two-armed P. nodusus. After some examination, we realised the other 3 arms were chomped off at the oral disc edge. But we also noticed something else, it just so happen that the madreporite (P. nodusus has only one) is still there. Now we wonder, is the oral disc alone enough for survival? Or it requires the madreporite too?

The sieve-like madreporite is an opening used to filter water into the water vascular system of echinoderms, allowing the entry of seawater. Since the bodies of echinoderms are 'waster-based', it might be crucial for this structure to be present. Maybe I will go find out more.

Last but not the least, a quick report of the Protoreaster nodusus monitoring. As of initial analyze of data collected, a total of 64 individuals were recorded on this trip alone. This is more than the previous two trips in May combined (62)! What's more interesting is that babies comprised more than 80% of the total number!

After some comparison, out of the 64 seen, apparently almost all of them are new individuals (not recorded from previous trips in May)! This may jolly well bring the total number of Protoreaster nodusus population in Cyrene Reef to at least a whooping 120!!

This is definitely the largest population of P. nodusus you can find in Singapore. Be it seasonal or not, this proves that this safe heaven should be preserved for the sake of all its fauna, and for all our children to see. We should not be the ones to witness the demise of this wonderful patch of reef!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Four days, Four shores, Whole lot of insanity

Having to wake up at what my colleague calls ungodly hours to do crazy things for crazy stuff, that's what a bunch of us did - all for the sake of zoanthids. Roaming around in the darkness when most Homo sapiens in the right mind would be tucked nicely in bed, we ventured four shores (Kusu, Hantu, Changi & Cyrene) in four days.

Here is to show the stuff that also do not sleep at ungodly hours, or simply those I-can't-move-or-run-so-I've-no-choice-if-you-disturb-me kind.

H.Coral-Turbinaria sp (Cyrene)& Ctenactis sp (Hantu)
Corals are plentiful, but these are rather interesting. Turbinaria sp. (left) found at Cyrene, with an interesting yellow calcium carbonate skeleton and possibly a Ctenactis sp. at Hantu, that has grown to humongous proportion (about 2 feet in length).

Octopus-Order Octopoda (Kusu)
Octopus (Order Octopoda)- one of those night critters...

Shrimp- Order Decapoda (Kusu)
Quite a huge prawn (Order Decapoda). Seafood anyone?

Worm-Ribbonworm Phylum Nemertea (Kusu)
A long ribbon worm (Phylum Nemertea) that perhaps went back to sleep when it knows we were here.

Crab-Metopograpsus sp (Kusu)
A large Metopograpsus sp. crab wandering around a pillar of the jetty at Kusu.

Urchin-Temnopleurus (Changi) & Diadema setosum (Cyrene, Hantu)
Some Temnopleurus sp. (left) found at Changi, along with quite a handful of Diadema setosum found on Cyrene and Hantu.

Sponge- Phylum Porifera (Hantu)
Interesting looking sponge (Phylum Porifera) found in Hantu.

S.Coral-Order Alcyonacea (Changi)
A couple of interesting looking soft corals (Order Alcyonacea) found at Changi. Looks like.... you-know-what....

Seafan-Order Gorgonacea (Changi)
Seafans (Order Gorgonacea) or gorgonians found at Changi. Quite a bunch of them around.

Hydroids-Order Hydrozoa (Changi)
Seafans-look-alike, but boy... you don't want to mess with these... Hydroids (Order Hydrozoa) will give you hell of a time if you touch them.

Seastar-Culcita novaeguinea (Cyrene) & Asterina coronata (Changi)
Of course, there were the usual Knobblies (Protoreaster nodusus) at Cyrene. Well they now have a whole blog to themselves so here's the others - (left) a baby Cushion seastar (Culcita novaeguinea) from Cyrene and a Crown seastar (Asterina coronata) or rock star (imagine finding a guitar when you flip it over! Okay... lame.. but this is what we strive on at 2 or 3am in the morning) from Changi.

Cowrie-Cypraea onyx & Cypraea miliaris (Kusu)
Cowries! Cypraea onyx (left) and Cypraea miliaris from Kusu. Aren't they beautiful with their mantle and foot extended?

Crinoids- Class Crinoidea
Crinoids (Class Crinoidea) or feather stars seems to be in season. Seen more than two dozen of them across the four days. They come in such wide variety of colours that sometimes I wonder are they just colour morphs of only a few species. Well, let's wait for a crinoid expert to descend upon Singapore. Hehe...

Fish-Toadfish Family Batrachoididae (Hantu)
Here's another crinoid. But if you notice carefully, there a Toadfish (Family Batrachoididae) right under it.

Fish2-Filefish Family Monocanthidae (Hantu), Flathead Family Platycephalidae (Cyrene)
So now for more fishy stuff, (left) a Filefish (Family Monocanthidae) from Hantu and a Flathead (Family Platycephalidae) from Cyrene.

Fish3-Amphiprion ocellaris (Kusu, Hantu)
Seen the most numbers of nemos during this period, more than I've ever seen before. Hiding among anemones, these Amphiprion ocellaris were seen in Kusu, Hantu and Cyrene.

Fish1-Razorfish Family Centriscidae (Cyrene)
Interesting fishes that swims vertically are these Razorfish (Family Centriscidae) seen at Cyrene. Notice that their fins are modified to be extended throughout the underside of their body so that they can swim vertically easily. Cool eh? An adaptation to live among seagrass lagoons.

Flatworm-1, 2, Pseudobiceros gratus (Kusu) & Acanthozoon sp (Hantu, Cyrene) & Phymanthus sp. (Hantu)
Flatworms!! Not sure about the top two's (from Kusu) ID, but bottom left is a Pseudobiceros gratus from Cyrene and Acanthozoon sp. (bottom right) seen in Hantu and Cyrene. A Flower anemone (Phymanthus sp.) is seen in the photo with the Acanthozoon sp.. These anemones come in different colours and are commonly seen.

Nudi-Glossodoris atromarginata (Cyrene), Pteraeolidia ianthina (Cyrene), Hypselodoris infucata (Changi) & Phyllidiella pustulosa (Cyrene, Hantu)
Oh boy... I always do this. I'm not a nudibranch expert but I simply love them so I keep the best for last. From top, clockwise: Glossodoris atromarginata (Cyrene), probably a Hypselodoris infucata (Changi), two Phyllids, probably Phyllidiella pustulosa (Hantu, Cyrene) and Pteraeolidia ianthina (Cyrene). Didn't take a photo of Jorunna funebris thou.

End of the trips = sleepy, tired, hungry always, but all worthwhile! Can't wait for the next researcher to come. Hahahaha...