12 November 2011

Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Another wonderful day at Chek Jawa for the Naked Hermit Crab's monthly free guided tours of the boardwalk!
I was so lucky to have two enthusiastic families with me, and also Janet to help out at the walk! And we saw lots of cool stuff today!

Even before the walk begins, Ley Kun shares more about rubber trees and how they are tapped with a few of the visitors who have arrived with us. A kind van driver who used to be a rubber tapper, comes every day to tap this one tree, so that we can see how it is done.
Ooo, what happens if we pull and release this string of rubber sap? SNAP! Wow!
As usual, it is the kids who find all the interesting and important animals. Lots of crabs, fishes and damselflies and other hard to spot creatures.
Today, the tide is really high! 3.3m at noon! With the incoming high tide we see lots of interesting marine life that we don't usually see at low tide.
The water rushing into the back mangroves makes the Giant mudskippers very lively and easy to spot!
We also saw several Blue-spotted mudskippers! Chek Jawa is one of the few places where I have seen them. They tend to be well hidden at low tide and I've not seen so many on one trip as I did today!
There were also schools of fishes in the deeper water! This one seems to be a school of Mullets.
I'm not too sure what kind of fishes these are.
The water is quite clear near the mangrove trees at the boardwalk. We could see hermit crabs clinging onto the roots.
And lots of Gold spotted mudskippers too!
A whole assembly of Gold spotted mudskippers are clustered on the fast disappearing rocks, and flashing their brightly patterned fins at one another.
Today, we also saw a Bee-eater sitting at the top of a mangrove tree!
While a White bellied sea eagle was perched on the dead tree near the boardwalk. For a while, there were two of them chasing one another over the water. Was it chasing off another sea eagle from its hunting site? So much more to observe and learn at Chek Jawa!
The tide was really high today! The water is nearly reaching the top of the boardwalk, and the big rock is almost completely submerged.
One of the sharp-eyed kids spotted this large Malayan water monitor on the last bit of rock at the coastal forest that was fast becoming submerged in the high tide. They also spotted others in the back mangroves, splashing away in the rising tide.
A large floating tree has drifted near the boardwalk. It was covered in seaweeds and barnacles and other tiny animals. This is probably how some marine creatures disperse to new areas.
Janet was a great help today, sharing stories and engaging the large group of visitors. Here she is telling the story of Pulau Sekudu! She is one of Kok Sheng's enthusiastic student councillors from Dunman High School who will be participating in the Naked Hermit Crab walks as part of the school programme. I gave them a talk a while ago and was very impressed by their enthusiasm.
We also had a quick look at the hornbill nest that Pei Yan and Daniel are explaining to their visitors.
As usual, we end the walk with a drawing session. I'm always delighted by the beautiful and heartfelt creations produced by the kids.
Joseph has re-created his name out of the wonderful mangrove and marine life he had seen during out trip. Isn't that marvelous! It's great to see so many families coming out to see Chek Jawa during the school holidays. The Naked Hermit Crabs look forward to more in the upcoming December trip.
Just before we started the walk, Mama wild boar and her little family of three piglets appear! Everyone takes a look at the them, from a good distance. While she is not very afraid of people, these are still wild animals and it is not good to startle or frighten them by coming too close.
Here's a closer look at her with the zoom lens. She has three young ones, the third is rooting about in the forest a little distance away. They sure have grown a lot.
But still, they need Mama's care. Here, she is giving a good sniff check on one of the young ones who lay down in front of her. She shortly did the same thing to another of her young ones. What a great mother she is!
It's important NOT to feed Mama and her family. There's plenty of natural food for them in the forest and on the shores, which better suited to them. Sugary food spoils their teeth and health as they do ours. And feeding can make wild creatures associate people with food, making them aggressive towards people. When this happens, the authorities are often forced to remove (i.e., kill) the aggressive animals. So feeding kills. Please don't feed the wild animals. More about NOT feeding monkeys and wild animals.
As usual, the guides ended our trip with the traditional seafood lunch at Ubin Town. And polished up a plate of pepper crabs in no time at all! Crabs need good shores to survive. So if we want to enjoy eating them, we need to preserve our mangroves and shores!
As we headed back to the mainland, we could see the rain falling heavily on the mainland. How lucky that we enjoyed a clear and dry morning at Chek Jawa.
Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa have amazing shores. Sadly, with many threats to them.Yesterday, during my trip to Pulau Ubin with the Mega Marine Survey, I came across a long series of abandoned driftnets.
The net was entwined around mangrove roots.
The nets seem freshly abandoned. Sigh.
Must find an opportunity for Project Driftnet to remove these.

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