09 July 2011

Kids at Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Another great day at Chek Jawa with kids and families on the Naked Hermit Crabs' monthly free guided tour of the boardwalk!
I was very lucky to guide these enthusiastic, keen-eyed kids and patient mums and dads.

Before we even began our tour, we met the new friendly security officer at the Chek Jawa Info Kiosk. Ishak Khan had gathered some fallen durians and was sharing it with everyone. Alas, one of them was eaten by bugs and the other wasn't very ripe yet.
As usual, the kids are great at reading the map! We figure out our route before heading off.
Our first stop, the Tower! The Jejawi fig tree is 'figging' (see here why we don't say it is fruiting). But perhaps the figs are not quite ripe yet as we didn't see too many animals in the tree. When the figs are ripe, we can enjoy a spectacle of birds, including hornbills, squirrels, monkeys feasting on the figs, and even wild boar hunting below the tree.
Then it's time to explore the back mangroves in 'Mosquito Valley'. As usual, the kids are the ones who find most of the interesting creatures of the mangroves! The mosquitoes didn't bother us at all!
One of the kids spot this Giant mudskipper which was sitting very still right infront of us but so well camouflaged that we all missed it!
Wow, we saw two little Blue-spotted mudskippers today! The Chek Jawa boardwalk is the place for the easiest glimpse of these fishes which I don't often see.
The kids also pointed out many other tiny mudskippers.
As well as lots of colourful little fiddler crabs!
There were lots of Tree-climbing crabs everywhere. Many were large but hard to spot until they moved. The families are very observant and were already asking about the strange mud volcanoes very early on. So we had a good look at the elusive mud lobster which creates these mounds, when we got the sign with a photo of it.
Mum had prepared worksheets for the little ones and they were dilligently ticking off their sightings! How awesome! On our trips, we are often blessed with parents who already did all the hard work of preparing their kids for the outing!
We had a closer look at the fascinating nest of the Weaver ants. They bind leaves together to form a snug home. To glue the leaves together, they use the silk that is produced by their larvae. Here's a photo of an adult ant carrying a baby 'glue-gun'!
All too soon, we leave head out of the mangroves.There's even more to see on the mudflats!
Wow, the kids have found a gathering of many Porcelain fiddler crabs! I have no idea why they have clustered so closely together.
Hurray! Today the tide is not too low and the sun bright enough, for us to have a look at the 'dancing' mudskippers. Although I didn't manage to photograph one leaping in action.
Oh! In the distance one of the mums spots a large Malayan water monitor walking across the seagrass meadow. I only noticed that it was carrying something (probably a fish) in its mouth after I got home to process the photo!
The kids spot a huge crab in the middle of the seagrass meadow. It looks like a Mud crab (nine spines on the body shell) which should normally be found in the mangroves. But we have been finding them on Chek Jawa's seagrass meadows, I even saw them mating there last week. Were these crabs released as part of 'animal liberation'?
There's lots to see on the seagrass meadows too! Here we are observing the herons hunting out near the water line. Will we be lucky enough to see them catch a fish?
The pair of herons hunt in the shallow water. In the distance, the long jetty near the mouth of the Johor River and a huge oil rig parked there.
Wow, the kids spot a horseshoe crab on the seagrass meadows! It doesn't look like a dead one, probably a moult.
This large bee was clinging to the railing on the boardwalk. I have no idea why.
All too soon, we ended up at House No. 1 where the kids obliged with drawings of their experiences on the tour. Alas, I missed taking photos of them doing this. Just as we were leaving, a whole troop of Wild boar trotted out of the forest toward the Info Kiosk! It looks like Mama wild boar and her kids.
Everyone took the opportunity to photograph them.
Here's a slightly large one which might an older 'baby'.
It surprised the visitors by crossing the path.
Followed by several smaller babies which still had their 'watermelon' stripes, dashing across the path!
What another splendid day at Chek Jawa! Topped off by another cholesterol-inducing lunch at Ubin Town. It's durian season now and the best durians can be found at Pulau Ubin! So come down before they are all gone!

Check out the Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crab blog for updates on the next monthly free guided tour of the Chek Jawa boardwalk!

More about Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin.


  1. I see you had a fantastic guide today.
    hahahah... I was enjoying Siva's workshop on ICCS at NUS.

  2. Apparently, mud crabs aren't necessarily restricted to mangroves; one species is known to inhabit coral reefs and subtidal flats, while others seem to generally favour coastal habitats with lower salinity. Also, some species in other countries are known to migrate offshore to release their eggs.

    My guess is that while mangroves are a habitat where mud crabs will be commonly found, they will do well in just about any soft-bottomed coastal habitat where the salinity is somewhat lower. We've seen mud crabs elsewhere in Seringat-Kias and Pulau Tekukor, for example. Perhaps the reason why we don't often find mud crabs on our shores is because they're more visible and easily caught, whereas mangroves are less accessible and the crabs can hide more easily. And with Chek Jawa being protected, the mud crabs are better able to colonise the seagrass lagoon where they could originally be found.

    Damn you animal liberation people for making things confusing for us! *shakes fist*

  3. Thanks for this info Ivan! Now it makes more sense! Glad to hear you're helping at ICCS Pei Yan!



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