Thursday, 26 July 2007

Yep, I'm a pushover alright.....

Your Score: Pushover - ISFJ

26% Extraversion, 46% Intuition, 46% Thinking, 53% Judging

Hah. Nice one. How does it feel to know that you're barely unique? Of all the personality types you could have had, you ended up with the most common in all of America. In a group of 100 Americans, 12.8 of them will be just like you.

I bet you feel sorry for that one person missing 20% of his body. I bet you want to help him out, don't you? Cause that's what you like to do, isn't it? Help people. You don't want to save the world. You just want to help people out.

Sound pretty good so far? Sorry, but you're just plain pathetic. You let people walk all over you all the time, because everyone knows that you just can't say "no." When you get time, email me your contact details. It�s always good to know where I can find another helping hand.

What the hell is your problem? GET A LIFE! Stop cleaning other people's houses and go out and have a bit of fun every now and then. Sure, you feel responsible for doing what needs to be done, but sometimes it's just not you who needs to do it.

You're dependable, predictable and practicaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...

Whoops, that was me falling asleep on the keyboard. You're just not the most fun person. I wouldn't worry too much about it. You can go hang out with your other 12.8 mates, helping out at the soup kitchen together. Woohoo!


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
Click for the rambling...

Monday, 16 July 2007

Day out at Upper Seletar~~

Believe it or not,Juan here was at Upper Seletar for some forest fieldwork ^^ Tagged along with SC to her little plot to so some seed collection. Actually a rather fern-y area. Had some random images of dinosaurs frolicking in the background....

Being a divejunkie (doing terrestrial fieldwork) didn't stop me from being trigger happy on land as well, and I managed to catch my very first butterfly shot!! OK, so the photos ain't that great but practise makes perfect!!! Being more of a marine person, I really dunno what kind of butterfly this is. Think it belongs to the Ethope genus of Asian brown butterflies, and the markings on the wings kinda look similar to the white diadem (Ethope diademoides) tho' the hind wings seem to differ a bit, Couldn't really find a similar looking butterfly on the Hexaglider website that korkor refers to, so would really appreciate any help in ID-ing....

EDIT Seems like I'm wrong. Ain't a white diadem after all. With some help from July and the folks on one of the butterfly forums, this appears to be a Malayan eggfly (Hypolimnas anomala anomala). Can generally pass off as as a mimic of the "crows" (which July thought it was at first). It is realatively common in SG and frequents the lowland forests. They are also territorial.

And since we were basically in a "fern garden", there were tonnes of new fern fronds waiting to unfurl!!

And when they do, the naturally occurring fractal pattern of the leaves is shown to all!!

Click for the rambling...

Sunday, 15 July 2007

To Semakau and back~~~

My 2nd and final OJT for the Semakau intertidal guiding. Come September, will have a group of my own?! Shall *panic* later when the time comes la.... On the the "meat" in this entry. The weather was much more comfortable (and way less exciting) than the last walk I was on, and we definitely got to see more of the actual intertidal area. Was in the Octopus group under the guidance of Ms Bionic-Eyes, CH!!

First up, we came across this rather unusual anemone after looking at some beaded anemones in the darkness. First time I'm seeing this particular kind of anemone for myself, though I have some vague impression of seeing something similar on another blog some time back... Now all I need is to figure out which blog. Help with the ID anybody?

Next organism that I took a shot at (actually q number of shots) was this green-ish rope-like thing we came across on our way to the edge of the flats where a long, spiny Diadema urchin was awaiting us. If you look very carefully, you might be able to make out a head on the right side of the photo...

Still looking pretty much like a algae-covered rope? Look again! You can just make out a little black spot that is actually its eye!! CH informed me that this fella could possibly a banded file snake (Acrochordus granulatus) that is heavily covered with algae. With a quick check in my amphibian book, as well as a bit of basic photoshopping on the original photo (resulting in possible bands under all that green algae), it does seem that she's right!! Guess the rough, loose, baggy skin and the shape of the head are pretty good clues to it's identity, though I really wonder why it's so algae covered. It really is the first time I've seen an algae-encrusted snake!! And when having a quick discussion with the other guides, it seems that another filesnake (without the algae) was spotted too!

If you are wondering how this filesnake actually looks like under that carpet of greenery, here's Ria's entry on SLOG, with photos.

Soon after the slithery encounter, Robert came over with this tiny little fella. Really cute little juvenile scorpionfish!!! It may still be small, but those venom filled spines it has are still just as lethal!! LIke the more (in)famous stonefish, whis well camouflaged fish has lethal venom in its spines, and if stepped on or touched, the venom is injected into the blood, pretty much like how hypodermic needles work. So don't play play, k? Initially, we weren't sure if this was a scorpionfish or a stonefish (I thought it was a scorpionfish because of the shep of the webbing with the dorsal spines, as well as a slightly more pointed head), and thankfully Prof Leo Tan was there to teach us more on the differences between a scorpionfish and a stonefish. The pectoral fins (the 2 round, disc-like fins on the sides) are more mobile in the scorpionfish, whereas in the stonefish, those pectoral fins are more fixed in place.

And speaking of stonfish, here's a stonefish sea cucumber. No dangerously venomous spines to be aware of since this is a sea cucumber, but since it's an echinoderm (has 'spiny skin'), it also has tubular feet like the sea urchins and sea stars.

Here's another very well camouflaged fish, called the toadfish. Rather ugly bugger, yar? It got its name from the sound that the male makes while attempting to attract a mate. And yesh, this fish is like the stonefish and scorpionfish because of its cryptic coloration (aka camouflage), AND its venomous spines. *darn* Am just short of an actual stonefish (no the sea cucumber DOESN'T count) to make my "ugly-camou-fish-with-venomous-spine-injections" photo set....

On to more weird and funky stuff on our intertidal flats. Can you figure out what those blobby white stuff amongst the branching Acropora sp. coral are? They are actually egg sacs of cuttlefish!!! Pretty nifty, yar? Sorry about the not-so-sharp focus as my IXUS always acts up when I need it to focus in between branching coral branches...
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And speaking of cephalopods (cuttlefish and octopus all belong to this group), the Octopus group definitely couldn't have left Semakau without actually seeing one for themselves!! This octopus was the perfect size for our trusty containers, and we managed to bring it round to a few other people as well. Sure makes up for all those cries from other groups that they saw an octopus just as it darted away into the safety of a crevice.....

Somewhere along the walk back, we came across this anemone shrimp that was in a tide pool next to its host carpet anemone. So cute!!! Carpet anemones and anemone shrimps such as this fella are mutualistic, meaning they help each other to better survive the environment that they are in. The carpet anemone is a relatively messy eater, leaving bits of food around its tentacles, so the anemone shrimp acts as a cleaner to pick up all these scraps (that would otherwise just rot there and possibly affect the anemone's health) and gets a meal in the bargain!!

And just before we went across the seagrass lagoon, we realised that someone left his/her heart behind on the intertidal area!! Could it be Will Turner's?! (Ai. That's what too much pirates and Johny Depp does to one ^^)

But alas, it's not an actual heart but a true heart cockle (Corculum cardissa). It differs from the cockles that we are more familiar with as it is flattened on the other side, possibly so that the shell is actually thin enough for some sunlight to get to the mantle (aka flesh) and gills. Why is this so important? It is actually similar to giant clams in the way it has zooxanthellae (microscopic algae that is also found in the tissue of hermatypic hard corals) that photosynthesize.

Pretty, ain't it? So it's not that surprising that people market this as a symbol of love, given as a token of affections from sailors. But as with all seashells, in order for the natural beauty to be maintained in these souvenirs, they are collected while the poor animal is still alive. The animal is then literally murdered for its pretty shell that can be fixed and sold to tourists. I know how lovely they look in display sets (we still have some rather large cowrie shells at home which we bought in the 1990s), but do spare a thought about the process of getting it instead of merely looking at it as a mere product. Really gives me a broken heart just like this...

Click for the rambling...

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

George Watson's College @ Tioman [28 June 2007-06 July 2007]

Okies. Here comes a slew of photos to make up for the lack of updates ^^ Can't believe that (most of) the folks from GWC have gone back to Edinburgh. The week plus that was spent with them sure has flown by oh-so quickly!!! *sobz* Anyways, I didn't really take that many photos (Maybe I'm over my triger-happy phase? *yeah, rite*)

Since this is not gonna be any proper chronological order, will just put them in a *hopefully* coherent manner, and try to get the names of the few terrestrial critters I photographed correct as well.... That being said, I HAVE to start this off with THE highlight of the trip. SHARK RAY!!!! (Rhina ancylostoma)

Definitely NOT something you get to see everyday. Wonder if there are actually more people who know what this is as compared to whale sharks and mantas.... And NO, this is NOT a guitarfish or a shovelnose ray. It has a broad rounded head unlike the pointy one that guitarfishes and shovelnoses have. There's also the dangerous looking ridges above the eyes and along the center of its head. More surprisingly, this fella's normally found on/near bottoms of coastal seas, though this one was spotted at the surface, in the midst of floating trash and guck that was washed out by the heavy rains the previous days.

Being biologists, the bunch of us just couldn't resist the chance to hop into the water with it, and even when we came close, it didn't duck away into the blue. Something was definitely wrong. The general consensus was that it was probably dying, maybe due to some trash it mistook for food and swallowed. Was rather amazing seeing this shark ray up close and personal, yet a little disheartened by seeing it in the state it was. Do think twice before conveniently chucking that piece of trash into the sea/beach/mangrove/shore/river.....

On a slightly more cheerful note, we also managed to see a number of amazing (and healthy looking) creatures while exploring the different habitats. One example is this really shy spider conch that was playing peek-a-boo with us. Really cute and lovely eyes it has,yar? This gastropod with its gorgeous shell has good reason to be shy around humans. Many of our "tropical island" souvenir shops sell numerous merchandise made of nicely polished, in-great-condition shells. Ever wonder why the shells look so beautiful? It's not due to human polishing but due to its original inhabitant!! Those shells were all collected while the animals were very much alive. These animals were then killed for those pretty shells that tourists love oh-so-much. Do think twice, thrice, and many more times before you pick out a souvenir from your holidays, and avoid buying stuff with shells....If the demand stops, so will the supply...(If it happens the other way round, NOBODY would be able to actually enjoy these beautiful animals anymore!!)

Amazingly enough, this was the one and only nudibranch I photograhed the entire trip! Think its a blue dragon (Pteraeolidia ianthina) that was nicely curled up into a ball. The cerata (the fingerlike/winglike extensions along its length) are kinda longer that those on the blue dragons I usually see in Singapore, but it was fun seeing it at the rather sandy bay we were at.

This zooanthid was spotted in the coastal mangrove area (meaning no freshwater influence). There were just clumps of them all around!

The zooanthid was not the only marine creature living side-by-side with the mangrove plants. This single carpet anemone (Stichodactyla sp.) was spotted under some Rhizophora sp. roots!?! This particular individual seemed to be by it lonesome self with no other fellow anemones or any of the possible commensals.

However, while we were diving a few days later, we spotted another carpet anemone. This time with a couple of Clark's anemonefish in it! Ever wonder how carpet anemones can confer protection to the fish with those short, stubby tentacles? Wonder no longer!! When the anemonefish detects a threat to itself (and/or its anemone home), it brushese rather rapidly against the carpet anemone, causing the anemone to fulr in (like in the photos below), and then it tucks itself into the folds created. This way, any potential predator would have to come in contact with the anemone's stinging tentacles before it can reach the anemonefish. Neat, eh?

So back to the coastal mangrove. While I was happily shooting away at the carpet anemone, this juvenile cardinalfish hiding in its mangrove root nursery was clearly eyeballing me and wondering what the *beep* I was doing. Its just a very ordinary carpet anemone mah!!

Further in, we also spotted this possibly resident whitetail stingray (Himantura granulata). Accuse me of being a snob but am glad to see any ray that is not the blue-spotted ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma)!! Just see them a little too often~~~

It was also great to see the burrowing giant clam (Tridacna crocea) in the Malaysian waters. There was even one big piece of coral rubble with like 10 of them in close proximity!!

One thing this trip has helped me greatly is the further exposure I had to terrestrial life. This divejunkie here simply spends too much time in/by the sea!! Here's a HUGE primary forest tree to welcome us to the original forest on P.Tioman.

One of the many lizards that graced the trail to Juara, the dark round-eyed gecko (Cnemaspis nigridius). You can see that part of the tail is a lighter brown with hardly any markings on it. Its a regenerated tail to replace the original one that dropped off due to some threat or fight it was in. Do not underestimate the regenerative prowess of lizards, yar?

I know this is a rather crap photo, but 'tis what you get on a basic digital camera with a built in wide-angled lens... One of the sharp-eyed teachers spotted this green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristella) in one of the trees, and this critter can be found in Singapore as well!! Need to start opening up my eyes more when I'm walking around...

While resting by a stream during our lunch break, a few of the GWC students (obviously still in spotting mode) caught sight of this copper-cheeked frog (aka white-lipped frog) (Rana chalconota). Also native to Singapore, this amphibian is not exactly very common, so... GREAT SPOT GUYS!!!

On to slightly less reconisable stuff, the terrestrial hammerhead flatworms!!! In gardens, one species of these interesting looking land planarians spell bad news as they feed on earthworms. However, in the wild, they are part of the ecosystem here in SEA where they are native, having its own little role to play in the forest community.

Finally managed to see a live cicada after goodness knows how many cicada casts. =^-^= Simply fabulous to have this little fella posing and preening itself while the students were enjoyling themselves in the the waterfall swim.

A quick swim at the waterfall to cool off before heading to Kampung Juara and the long boat ride back....

Scenic shots down the southern side of Pulau Tioman. Long as the boat ride was, we were treated to gorgeous scenery with great weather, it's just so tough to figure out which turned out to be the best shot. Trust me. There are many more of these shots!!

Obviously, there was much to smile on the way back. A good dose of sun for those wanting a tan, a nice long boat ride in relatively calm seas for those needing a nap, and great scenery for the shutterbugs!!

When we moved over to Melina beach for the diving leg of the trip, this nice expanse of intertidal area was just right in front, with plaintain squirrels as our furry neighbours. ^^ Do click on the thumbnail for the full view!!

The diving starts~~~

One of the first things we saw were these potato urchins!!! Also known as sea potatoes as well as heart urchins. Small things around 5-6cm in diameter, with hundreds just covering the sandy bay that we were at for the AOW students to practise their navigational skills. In the same area, I managed to spot a peacock flouder as it fouldered away....



Hammerhead sharks!! No, we didn't see any of the actual hammerheads, just the OW group that was named hammerheads. The other groups were clownfish, dolphins, reef sharks, stingray, and the AOW group being turtles...

SO of course we saw turtles!! Many thanks to Ben for spotting and pointing out this hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)) to everybody. This one was fully grown since it was near to a metre in length. Great that it was nicely occupied with eating, so I managed to get nice closeups of it ^^ You can see the reef fishes benefited as they pick up little scraps that have come loose due to the turtle's chomping...

False clownfish in anemone

Our googly-eyed roomie (a common jumping spider) at Paya saying "Don't leave me out!!" So that's it for now. *phew* That felt like a rather long entry in ages!!

Click for the rambling...