Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sun 30 Oct 2005

Two hours at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, Part I

Category : mangroves

Sat 29 Oct 2005 - Ladybird decided to drag country bumpkins Linda and Arnie out to Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve as an antidote to more than a week of intense conference coordination. Apparently the US-based Keystone Symposia is usually held in some serene mountain resort, so Singapore city, its first non-US venue, was quite a contrast!

So these three symposia organisers needed a break and I was shanghai-ed to guide them tthrough a quick two hours at SBWR (~11am - 1pm). We spent most of our time time at the mangrove boardwalk, and then were briefly at the bridge and main hide.

Still, it was the first time in many years that I had taken a stroll in the park, without specific purpose or intent. Although I was guiding, it was just for two nature-savvy people, and I eventually took a camera out for some casual photos.

The photos were almost entirely blur, which I put down to shooting hand held at 12x magnification under a canopy, and not age! Its enough to tempt me to revive my Canon, get a tripod and head out again!

Tree-climbing crabs emerging - The tree-climbing mangrove crabs (Episesarma spp.) were beginning to emerge as the tide rose. They would climb up the trees to heights of 2m-3m to escape the tide by about 2pm; but we'd left by then.

Since we spent at least an hour on the boardwalk, we could observe the gradual emergence off the crabs as the tide rose - from the ground to tree bases, and a few up the trunks and onto branches. this one is an Episesarma versicolor

Face-banded sesarmine - (Perisesarma (previously Chiromantes) eumolpe). Unlike the burrowing and tree-climbing Episesama spp., this is a non-burrowing leaf-eater. Leaf-eating crabs are very important to a mangrove ecosystem because they accelerate the transfer of energy from leaves to the rest of the ecosystem through digested and undigested material and as prey.

Spider and horsefly - Spider dragging the presumably dead body of a horsefly on a Rhizophora mucronata leaf, at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, along the Visitor Centre's mangrove boardwalk. The female horsefly packs a pretty painful bite and when under heavy attack, I plaster myself with mud to protect myself. Well that's not saying much; its more like a reapplication of a layer of mud.

Giant Mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) - I never tire of watching them. Both the rising and ebbing tide is a good time to watch them engage in territorial disputes. You'll be alerted by splashing sounds and their wildly waving dorsal fins as they are common around the boardwalk.

Yellow-spotted Mudskipper (Periophthalmus walailakae) - a new species right under our noses all these years, but was not detected until 2002 by our Thai friends. They named the species after their new Walailak University; how nice!

Let's take a closer look at its bulldog face and handlike fins! Isn't it adorable?

One individual crawled energetically across a bank and when I looked up from the camera's viewfinder, the fish was nowhere to be seen. Then I realised where it was - under the boardwalk!

This species has its territorial disputes too and all that splashing makes it difficult to track these otherwise well camouflaged fish. But the challenges don't last very long and once water settles, you can spot their prominent eyes which are positioned at the top of their heads!

This pair below occupy a log in close proximity. They were a long way from a dispute (dorsal fins not extended) or perhaps they were a pair (male and female). That sort of observation woudl require a trip in itself.

Dusky-gilled Mudskipper (Periophthalmus novemradiatus) - the third obvious species of mudskipper spotted (the small, inconspicuous Slender Mudskipper (Periophthalmus gracilis) was also around) . It is a common species in inter-tidal areas, and are also seen amongst rocky shores and canals. The blue spots are very pretty under strong sunlight. This one picked up enough sunlight in a gap in the mangrove canopy to reflect some blue, although the colour is lost in the web photo.

To be continued.

Posted at 2:41PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .