20 July 2005

Setting up the Toddycats touch pool for the Pulau Semakau launch

15th July 2005: Specimen collection trip to Pulau Semakau for the touch pool

On 15th July 2005, a survey trip was conducted by a few of us Toddycats (Victoria, Grace, Marcus and me), to collect specimens for a touch pool for the official launch of the Semakau Landfill Recreational Area the next day.

The collection site was the mudflats at the edge of the young mangrove area, that we got to through a short forest trail. On the way there was a fallen tree blocking a section in the forest trail (must be the recent rainy weather), but nothing we couldn't climb. We reached the site at about 9.30am and got busy collecting specimens for the live display.

We managed to collect a few small crabs (the big ones were too fast!) There were also gold-spotted mudskippers everywhere, but catching them was a futile exercise. We caught a soldier crab (Dotilla myctiroides), a baby horseshoe crab, some hermit crabs, and several snails and bivalves. We also were lucky to chance upon not one but two starfish. They were the most effortless catch, next to the common seagrasses and seaweed on the mudflats. We also collected fruits from the mangrove trees at the shoreline.

Some of our catch:

A baby horseshoe crab.

Hermit crabs, snails and bivalves. Spot the horseshoe crab!

We tanked our lucky stars ;) amongst the seaweeds and soft coral.

Nerita sp.

Some interesting finds
At about 11.30am, although the incoming tide was still low, we had to end our collection due to heavy rain. The collection was not substantial but there were enough interesting animals and plants for display, so we were happy enough! And we did find some interesting specimens. The soldier crab was unusual enough for museum staff to want to take a closer look at it after the launch.

We managed to collect a conus shell! But we didn't bring it back because it is venomous. We made the painful decision to leave it behind, to avoid greater pain of being stung! We were a little sad about this, especially Marcus who was the proud collector! It looked pretty, a menacing red with black spots. But I suppose it was not really touch-pool material!

We also saw a water spout! It came along suddenly and stayed for about ten minutes, before disappearing just as suddenly. Only Marcus didn't see it! :D

But we have a shot of him with water spout.

Collection was not the end.
We had to carefully sift through and sort the murky tanks of animals we collected. We ended with two crab and snail tanks, a seastar tank, and a seagrass tank. We left these overnight at Semakau in the main building, equipped with an aerator. We found te sorting to be a fairly slow process as we were afraid to kill or lose anything! It took us up to 2.00pm by the time we left Semakau Landfill, tired and very hungry!

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