Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Biophilia Programme


One fieldtrip left and a seminar series at the science centre before the Biophilia programme draws to a close for the year. Hopefully we can run it again next year. The idea is to arouse biophilia in students, who otherwise would not have an authentic experience of nature here in Urban Singapore. But its more than that. Besides the place-based learning, the students come up with their projects here and all we do as part of that process is socratic questioning. Its a bit frustrating for students and its not easy to come up with a scientific question. But we've been to the fieldsite for about 5 times already and each time we spend about 3 hours there (what a blessing to have enthusiastic and supportive colleagues taking turns or even coming regular for this). We've seen some "ecological literacy" developing so that's a nice development.


Here's a pair of anemone shrimps. We found 2 pairs on two different anemones. They are delightful creatures to watch and they are, as we found out through the weeks on the Biophilia programme, almost always there when there is a submerged carpet anemone. They are known to wait out in a nearby pool if the anemone is totally exposed during the low tide, and return again.

This is the second time I have seen it in the flesh/carapace, and they provide a nice source of distraction from the world. The seem to potter about busily around the tentacles of the anemone and its been recorded that they fend off any outsider (be it a fish) that comes close to the anemone. So the pair's highly territorial. Their almost transparent body makes them hard to spot but once you know there's a high chance of spotting them beside the nice obvious bloom of the anemone, their movements give them away. The smaller one of the pair is the guy.

For much better pictures and a sciency account go to the Annotated Budak post


Nat Low and I were debating over this row of eggs. I had roughly remembered it to be some mollusc that would lay such eggs. She, being more cephalopod-biased, suggested it was too big for small snails... well not too big for the spiral melongena I guess.

Here's a nice picture of the spiral melongena from Dai Jiao's photostream in Flickr.

Because the tide was low, we decided to hope over to another stretch of rocky beach on the southern most point of Singapore and saw this pair of horseshoe crab doing their thing. What an interesting sight for students who have not even seen the creature before, seeing the mating ritual of the horseshoe crab. I am sure they, like me before, find it interesting to know that the horseshoe crab has blue blood, as unlike us, they have copper instead of iron as the prosthetic group to carry oxygen. The blue blood is very valuable as it has anti-bacterial properties that scientists have been studying. See the youtube video here.

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