Aug 23, 2005

Doing it in the rain

We go, rain or shine. This is one of the many reminders that we send to our Reefwalk participants prior to a walk. And so it was, on a cold, dark and wet Sunday morning, that 125 eager participants set off in the rain to explore the intertidal on Kusu. This was the largest group of participants we’ve brought out so far, thanks to the good response from more volunteers stepping forward to guide. Bluebird was on the lookout for the slightest hint of lightning, ready to blow the whistle and call off the walk if the weather got too bad. As this was my first time co-ordinating a Reefwalk, I felt that good ol’ ‘Murphy’ was really being a pain in the ***. Luckily, the bad weather didn’t persist and silver linings soon appeared around fluffy white clouds.

As Floggie mentioned, the downpour not only caused many of the creatures to go into hiding, it kinda mucked up the water quite a bit. But there were still many pleasant surprises in store for us.

Apart from the knobbly sea star and flathead discovered at the sea lagoon, one of our keen-eyed participants also spotted a stonefish! Phew! Thank goodness it wasn’t me leading that group or I probably would have stepped on it, and be posting a very different Klog from a hospital bed right now! Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it in the flesh, but Bluebird has a really cool pic of it that I hope he’ll upload soon. No sand dollars? I think Floggie went to the wrong bank. Not only were some of us ‘paid’ with sand dollars, we even had lots of coin seaweed (Halimeda) for spare change!

Over at the temple lagoon, we had other interesting dudes waiting for us – a scorpion fish, peanut worm and an octopus! Unfortunately, the octopus was dead when I found it but we thought it was alive ‘cos it was still changing colours. I guess it was physically dead but its pigment cells (chromatophores) were still active for a while. The poor sad guy just lay out of the water, his legs sprawled around a rock and head kinda squished between other rocks. Some male octopuses die immediately after mating, so I’m hoping that this was a male, and that this was his cause of death rather than anything else.

Note to Floggie: You missed out on ‘breakfast’ at the temple lagoon. Sausages and grapes aplenty! They were all over the rocky shore. Sausage seaweed (or what I personally call the green ‘tau-geh’ seaweed) and sea grapes. And these sea grapes weren’t the usual Caulerpa lentillifera that we’ve seen and ‘tried’ on Sentosa. These were the larger, juicy ones that look like enoki or buna hon-shimeji mushrooms, Caulerpa racemosa. Yihao and group even spotted a moray eel here! Unagi and green enoki for breakfast?

When the rain stopped and night turned to day, we were greeted by the usual sound of snapping shrimps, busy popping away, and the sight of purple climber crabs scurrying about the rock bunds. Later I found a cute big eyed fish (not Nan), stranded on the rocky shore. He was put in a tank to recover from being left out of water and later identified by Bluebird as a glass perchlet. After a little show & tell for some participants, little big eyed fish was set back into the big blue sea to look for his other little big eyed fish friends :o)

At the start of the walk, everyone, participants, guides and trainees included, were undoubtedly a little apprehensive about the heavy downpour. But by daylight and the end of the walk, I could see that everyone just didn’t want it to end. Looking cold, wet and tired, a few groups still went on and on. The tide came in pretty quickly, so these few gung-ho groups switched lagoons and explored further up shore.

Hair all wet from the rain, this little sweetheart still looks so adorable! Look at how she stares at the sea star so lovingly:

As co co-ordinator, moving from lagoon to lagoon, I got to see and listen to how other guides conduct their walks, and I must say I feel I’ve done my previous groups of participants a huge injustice with my cannot-make-it guiding ‘skills’. Now I know that even though we don’t have a really big pool of volunteer guides, our team of guides may be small, but they’re really A-class man! Here’s me doing my Wayne’s World kow-tow to you – I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! Each of you have your different style and approach to guiding, but by the way the participants hang on to your every word, I feel I’ve got a long way to go to get an 'A' too. Must read up more and practise my lines with the neighbourhood cats and mini mart aunty downstairs.

Jani explains how sea stars 'do it':

Zee gives a large group of participants (including me!) a Bio 101 on the octopus:

After the walk, most of the participants wandered around the island while waiting for the ferry.

If you took some time to appreciate the ‘finer’ things in life, you would soon discover that everything around you has art and beauty written all over it - even weeds and slugs.

When all the participants and guides left on the first ferry out, Bluebird finally got the threesome he’s been hinting about the past few weeks:

Though, not exactly the way he had imagined.

Bluebird, Pammy Whammy and I kind of became invertebrates for a while and spent most of the rest of the morning slumped in our hammocks. But these two slept for hours! It started to rain again, and soon it was storming and we sat in our hammocks, pigging out on leftover food and dark chocolate. Pammy left Bluebird and I in stitches with her “tee-ti-tit” song. I laughed till I had tears in my eyes!

What I learnt this weekend: Yihao loves that last cup of coffee at around 11pm every night like me. Soh was stung by a stonefish on East Coast once. Pammy, Bluebird and I know the words to Bed of Roses. Don’t talk too much to Bluebird in the morning or when he’s driving. How to tie a hammock properly (and not to hang mozzie coil on it the ‘Jani’ way!). Papa Jeff can ‘show’ you the meaning of endurance. And finally, not only can we ‘do it’ in the dark or in broad daylight, we do it rain or shine!


Anonymous said...

yo ppl u guys(and gals ) are great for organising such a fun and unforgetable REEFWalk ,here are some of the pic we took tat dae . enjoy.

greengardn said...

Thanks for sharing these pics with us!

pammy whammy said...

Great blog Greengardn. Thank you!
As usual, great time on the island... Yummy dark chocolate.. mmmm... Anymore joining us next time?

Papa Jeff said...

I am intrigued by what you meant that I can "show" you what endurance is? ... lol

Papa Jeff

bluebabe said...

Yeah, thanks for a great and well-organised Reefwalk!! Great way to end off the year, even though I took the rest of the week to recover from lack of sleep :). Can't wait for the tide tables 2006 to come out!!!