semakau

Picture of the Semakau Landfill, after the rock bund between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng was built.

Pulau Semakau is a island located to the south of mainland Singapore. In 1999, when the Singapore faced a lack of land on the mainland for landfills, a rock bund was built between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng (an island adjacent to Pulau Semakau) to create the Semakau Landfill that covers a total of 3.5 square kilometres. In 2005, the island was opened to public and has since been frequently visited by people interested in the activities they can do there which include inter-tidal walks, star gazing, sportfishing, birding, and even cycling.

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During the construction of the landfill, around 13 hectares of mangrove were uprooted. There have been efforts to restore the wildlife on the island. 13 hectares of mangroves were replanted and despite being the site of Singapore’s landfill, the island’s amazing wildlife still remains and features a rich diversity of organisms ranging from mangroves to corals.

The theme for our blog will be adaptation.

Fungi #1

Fan Mushroom (Panellus stipticus)

Kingdom: Fungi

Phylum: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Mycenaceae

Genus: Panellus

Panellus stipticus

Photo credits: Kuo, M. (2007, April). Panellus stipticus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com

Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/panellus_stipticus.html

The fungus can normally be found inhabiting rotting wood. These fungus only produces reproductive structures when suitable environmental conditions of temperature, moisture and nutrient ability are met. This is because the fan mushroom cannot produce food by itself, and have to rely on the inhabiting rotting wood to gain nutrients. The cap of the fungi is a convex structure, with a dry surface that covered with small fine hair, giving it a wooly texture. On the underside of the cap, the gills are spaced closely together and have numerous interconnecting cross-veins.

Plantae #1

Red Mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa)

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Malpighiales

Family: Rhizophoraceae

Genus: Rhizophora

 

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The red mangrove can be commonly found in intertidal forest communities. Mangroves grow in fine grained soil rich in organic matter. Although rich in nutrients, the environment mangroves live in are very hostile, with low levels of oxygen and varying salinity. To adapt to this harsh environment, the mangrove has roots, called prop roots, which protrude above the soil. As they are exposed to the surroundings, these roots help the plant breathe by taking in oxygen. These roots also help anchor the plant to the soil, making sure it does not get washed away by the tide. To ensure that young mangrove are able to survive and do not get washed away by the tide, the mangrove seed pod floats horizontally on the seawater, but turns vertically and lodges itself into the mud when the tide is low and takes root. To deal with the high salinity level, its leaves have special salt glands which enable them to tolerate the storage of large amounts of salt in their leaves. They also restrict the opening of the stomata, allowing the mangrove to conserve its fresh water, which is vital for its survival in a saline environment.

Animalia #1

Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster Nodosus)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Asteroidea

Order: Valvatida

Family: Oreasteridae

Genus: Protoreaster

Knobbly Sea Star

With a calcified hard body, the Knobbly Sea Star can actually bend quite extensively, to flip itself to the right side. Brightly coloured, covered with spines, nodules and knobs, it appears deadly to its predators but is on the contrary, not as dangerous as it looks. These structures gives itself more thickness, minimizing the possibility of attacks by predators. There are tiny, transparent finger-like structures that increases surface area to enhance nutrient absorption. To eat, the Sea Star extends its stomach out of its mouth over its food, secreting a digestive fluid to break down the food, absorb nutrients.

Animalia #2

Hard Coral (Scleractinia)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Anthozoa

Order: Scleractinia

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They arise from colonies of an organism, polyps. Polyps have an external skeleton made of calcium carbonate that it can retract into in unfavourable conditions. They usually produce mucus or have tentacles to help them filter and collect food. Depending on their size, they feed on organisms from plankton to small fishes. They share a mutualistic relationship with algae (zooxanthella) where both parties benefit. It provides algae with shelter and nutrients and in turn receives products of algae’s photosynthesis process. Hence, it is usually situated somewhere that algae can receive some amount of light.

Animalia #3

Spotted Black Flatworm 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Platyhelminthes

Class: Turbellaria

Order: Polycladida

Picture of a Spotted Black Flatworm (Acanthozoon) that we saw! 

Polycladida are very thin and flat, allowing them to hide, get food, and oxygen and nutrients to diffuse across the skin quickly. Although it is unable to swallow its prey, its pharynx can be pushed out through the mouth, engulfing the prey outside the worm’s body. Also, digestive juices can be injected into the prey, resulting in a liquified meal that is sucked up. The outer surface of the flatworm is covered with cilia, which produce mucus that protects them from drying out and also as a protection from predators. Their bright colours warns its predators of its poison and distastefulness.

Protista #1

Algae (Zooxanthellae)

Kingdom: Protista

Phylum: Dinoflagellata

Class: Dinophyceae

Order: Suessiales

Family: Symbiodiniaceae

Genus: Symbiodinium

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The zooxanthellae live in various organisms such as corals, giant clams, anemones  etc. They are microscopic, single-celled photosynthetic algae, which form a symbiotic relationship with corals, jellyfish, anemone and various other organisms. The algae is able to photosynthesise and produce energy, which the coral needs to build its calcium carbonate structure. When there is too much zooxanthellae growing on the coral, the coral will secrete chemicals to expel the zooxanthellae from the structure. However, when there are changes in the temperature, the corals might expel too much zooxanthellae. Without these zooxanthellae, the corals are unable to survive.