The heavy rain on friday morning delayed both me and Danliang to Tanjong Katong Secondary School (TKSS). Nevertheless, we made it and I've learned more about diversity in Singapore than I ever knew, even though I was 15 minutes late.
Along with the teenagers of TKSS, both me and Danliang were subjected to the environmental facts of Singapore. Learning how her speedy development has affected (and still affecting!) and taken a toil on the many ecosystems in parts of Singapore, is only secondary to the interesting facts on biodiversity around Singapore.
Chek jawa was introduced as an amazement of biodiversity located in the eastern regions of Pulau Ubin. Being such a tiny land, it is an understatement to say it is fascinating as it boasts a surprising number of 6 different ecosystems - Coastal Hill forests, mangroves, rocky shores, sandy shores, seagrass lagoon, and coral rubbles. As expected, a great wealth of creatures and plants can be found here. Some that I read from the articles found on the Chek Jawa website includes octopuses, seahorses, a variety of crabs to a friendly wild boar. Also mentioned and shown in the talk was the purple crab with distinctive violet shades and the moon crabs with their spade legs. I guess everyone was captivated to see a purple legged crab as the silence in the lecture hall said it all.
The next topic was on Pulau Hantu. There were several inhabitants I thought I'd never see in Singapore except on discovery channels and animal planet. We were treated to slides of some of the world's most poisonous snakes; sea snakes! One of the animals that got some student's interacting was the sea turtles. The incident of baby turtles losing their direction in East Coast Park (ECP) by crawling inlands instead of going out to sea allowed me a special lesson. I never knew that turtles are guided by stars. The numerous lamp-posts illuminated ECP like the stars illuminates the sky and these little hatchlings thus get confused and lose their directions. After that a frantic and tight rescue operation was executed and the day was saved by some of the RMBR team and the roller bladers who found them.
This shows that the public, not just the conservationists, can contribute to helping and conserving anything. Be it ecosystems or a specific animal like the sea turtle. The video on Chek Jawa shouts out the fact that people from all walks of life actually have the ability to make differences in plans, like the reclamation plan on Chek Jawa, by voicing out their opinions and standing firm on their beliefs. This is quite sensational, as making impacts in major government schemes is something that has never crossed my mind and something that most people will advise me against as "dont try anything funny with the government ah.."
Back to the interesting facts I learnt from the talk, Sungei Buloh a wetland reserve in Singapore, is home to the smooth coated and small clawed otters. A total of 13 species of otters can be found worldwide and only 4 are known to be in South East asia. It is quite a feat that 2 are located in Singapore and that a family of otters have made permanent residence here. =) Also caught wrestling in action were two male monitor lizards. The video clip was shown again with excited ooos and ahhs from the students as Mr. Siva pointed out the object of the conflict - a female monitor lizard slipping of coyly into the mangrove waters. The males battle it out by just pushing each other about through a hugging (not mating) position. The winner would be the one who is able to hold on the longest without falling over. Following this, we were told how a scratch would be fatal to these creatures as the forest they live in are full of bacteria and flies that carry diseases. One can just die from an infection of a shallow cut. Fortunately, the battle doesn't involve hurting each other a lot; only a lot of pushing around. Nevertheless, this certainly makes me all the more thankful I'm human and living in sanitary urban areas.
One other burning fact to share's the fact on how some mangrove snakes eat crabs. During shredding season, crabs release hormones which alerts the snakes. They they spot one, kill it and pull chunks of crab meat out by holding it down with loops of their muscular bodies. The amazing adaptability of these snakes means more choices on the menu and a higher chance of surviving in the wilderness.
Danliang just reminded me how short blogs should be and I guess you readers out there are waiting for this to end.. So I'll get to the highlight of the day, which is the fact that snakes actually JUMP. Yes they do, and that's one of the escape mechanism which increases their survival chance. Usually, they sidewind after being released. Yet a video of a snake jumping away showed how it can change direction while getting away. The amazement of it chorused around the lecture halls as students and interns alike exclaim in disbelief and excitement. This talk really widened my horizons on the many animal lifeforms to be found and their amazing potential for weird behaviors. No wonder for the saying, "Learning never stops." With so much biodiversity around to discover and experience about, I'd come up with one of my own, "Never stop learning".
Last but not least, these are several blogs that can be related to the talk: Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life, The Blue Tempeh, Habitatnews, wildsingapore, and not forgetting the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research of course!