Tuesday, 13 April 2010

"World Atlas of Marine Fauna" - First Impressions

First thought that came to mind when I first saw it on Friday during ADEX. That is a HUGE whopper of a book! Next thought after getting a copy from Ivan to do a review... This is a freakingly heavy book!

According to Amazon, this book weighs 7 pounds (approx. 3.2kg)! For a single book! o.0 Definitely worked out my arms getting this volume home!
From the weight alone, it does give a "reference book" kinda feel, and the impression that it's no featherweight like those handy field guides that are more commonplace.

Opening the cover reveals a world map with red dots indicating selected photo locations used in the book. What's thrilling to me is that SINGAPORE has a red dot on it! Now I have to go through every 725 pages looking for the photos taken here XD

With the marine animals being organized by Phylum (and depending on the organism, sometimes Class/Order/Family), it does give the layman an insight to the taxonomic relationship between the animals. Nice systematic way of putting things. In spite of the book's title being "World Atlas of Marine Fauna", it's skewed towards the non-sessile aka mobile animal groups. The sessiles such as bryzoans, sponges, and cnidarians (refers to a large number of organisms such as soft and hard corals, jellyfish, anemones, hydroids, sea fans etc.) are covered VERY briefly in the introduction and not elaborated on. Do wish that there would be a separate volume on them too! Just like the companion volume "World Atlas of Marine Fishes." Being a single volume reference book targeted at non-experts/non-scientists, it does make sense to cover the more attractive (at least to the run-of-the-mill diver/snorkeler) marine animals.

Would probably only have the opportunity to do a more thorough reading of this World Atlas over the weekend....
Click for the rambling...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Good Friday on St John's Island

Sorry that this post is coming way late. The coral workshop is some what logistically challenging and there's not too much free time for me to do up this post. Least ways not after I have grabbed my photos and gotten some off other photographers. >.< Boy was the beach on St John's crowded on Good Friday! My Geography teacher from secondary school, Mrs Chua, contacted me about arranging for a guided nature walk for her friends and their family. Interestingly enough, Mrs Chua also facilitated my first ever visit to St John's Island for a geography fieldtrip. That trip stuck in our memories mainly due to the fact that after visiting the mangroves, we were caught in a rather heavy downpour at the rocky cliffs. At least this time around we had better luck with the weather.
IMG_2616 group shot

Since I was in the middle of the SECORE workshop, and we made the arrangements in less than a week, it was a rather informal affair with Abby (who also happened to be on St John's for the workshop) kindly helping to guide half the group. It was nice sharing to a group of enthusiastic family group. Lots of questions asked, and a couple of them were also pointing out some of the raptors that were flying around the vegetation on the rocky cliff!
IMG_2619 navigating the rocky shore

The group kept us pretty busy with their zeal for nature, and we were constantly talking and sharing stories with the group, so much so that I actually didn't take many shots of the organisms.
IMG_7403 cowrie IMG_7400 octopus alert!

In fact, we stayed out until the tide was starting to look like it would cut off our route back! Some of the group was still heading further along the rocky shore at this point, and we had to quickly start ushering people back to the entry point.
IMG_7411 rising tide

But of course, spending Good Friday out at the shores would call for a group shot, and Abby was quickly loaded with an assortment of cameras to help with that. Really couldn't resist sneaking in a shot of her managing at least 5 cameras!!!!!
IMG_7415 cameras for sale!

At the end of the walk, Mrs Chua and another geography teacher took over for the geography portion of their outing. The students in the group did a little exercise in beach profiling while Abby and I headed back to TMSI to check on the preparations for the first night of expected coral spawning before the group came up to TMSI.

Dr Michael Laterveer (Rotterdam Zoo) was kind enough to do a quick presentation for the group, introducing them corals, mass spawning, and the work that we hoped to get done during the ongoing SECORE workshop.
IMG_7416 SECORE intro IMG_7420 coral at risk IMG_7421 natural storm barriers IMG_7423 coral cryobank IMG_7424 researchers at work

The visit was wrapped up with a quick peek at more marine life in the TMSI touchpool before the group headed back to the beach for a picnic lunch. ^_^
IMG_7425 touchpool

It's also heartening to read that the visit to St John's turned out pretty well in spite of the rushing here and there! Certainly hope the group would come back to St John's for another visit!
Click for the rambling...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

SECORE workshop - setting up

A continuation from my previous post, the folks involved in the our first ever coral spawning workshop aka SECORE workshop here in Singapore came over to the Tropical Marine Science Institute facilities on St John's Island yesterday, and Manon has done up a real quick photo blog of yesterday's orientation and settling in.

Settling in including having a quick intro to TMSI, as well as round 1 of talks/presentations by the various partners. Dr Paul Erftermeijer (Deltares) gave an intro to some of the research that Deltares does, as well as the research areas that Singapore Delft Water Alliance covers. Dr Mary Hagedorn (Smithsonian Institution/HIMB) followed that with talking about some threats to coral reefs and how freezing coral sperm may help in preserving some genetic diversity. Dr Michael Laterveer (Rotterdam Zoo) wrapped up the series of talks with a summary of what was done in the previous 4 SECORE workshops that were conducted in Rotterdam and Puerto Rico.

So on to today.... Or at least the first half of the day. Our shopping crew headed back to mainland Singapore to get piping, hardware, tubing, liquid nitrogen, more drinks and snacks, etc. that would be required to tide us over the long Easter weekend as we get busy with the spawning. Here you can see one of the DBS students in discussion with Michael on setting up rearing bins for the coral babies. Our many thanks go out to Abby, Ned, Mark, Roy, and Juward who spent the morning rushing around for the stuff that we needed, especially for getting everything in time to meet the mid-day ferry back to St John's!

The other (luckier?) team went out to Kusu to get some coral colonies for spawning in the tank. (Yes, Jamie's in the back of a vehicle again XD) Hopefully Mei Lin or Siti would share what happened during the dive. We should find out further tonight if the colonies we have in the tanks spawn. Can't wait!

And what about the rest of us who stayed on at St John's? Here's Dr Mary Hagedorn looking pretty cheery as she prepares for the talk on coral reproduction and spawning that she's currently giving as I'm quickly finishing up this post. And me? I was hoping to get this out before lunch in between troubleshooting here and there. Time to give today's talks my full attention, and we still need to sort out the dive roster!
Click for the rambling...