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Category Archives: i-Bio

living with half a brain

This is a long over due response to a mistake i made in one of my comments.. i should have done enough reading and research before concluding something as neurophysiologically impossible..

thanks to ppl who pointed out, im now very curious as to how these ppl accomodate the lack of half a brain…

this condition called Rasumussen’s encephalitis is a rare neurological condition that causes neurones to misfire  – causing seizures. the following story is of a girl who was diagnosed of this condition at the age of 3.

the same girl 3 yrs later on a talk show in january this year.

another condition called Aicardi syndrome occurs when the left and right hemispheres of the brain are unable to connect with each other. here’s a story of a kid who went through this.

in both cases, hemispherectomy was conducted, and it was shown that living with half a brain is possible.

all that i thought i knew abt how the different hemispheres control specific parts of our coordination system is changed. apparently, the brain is able to learn and adapt.

this girl born with only the left side of the brain functioning is actually able to see like we do. it appears that the optic nerves and associated nerves transmitting images from the right side is actually re-routed through the left and has vision like any healthy person!

im amazed with how living things adapt to physiological demands to survive. find a way around, otherwise, you fail to sustain your line of genes. and the most fascinating thing about stuff like these is that these cells just know how to fix themselves!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in i-Bio

 

Nature Conservation for a Sustainable Singapore

Nature Society (Singapore)’s Conservation Conference took place on sunday.

this conference was a series of paper presentations, and i wasnt even ready for mine, finishing up my presentation when the first few speakers were sharing. wow…. im amazed with myself sometimes.

it was great to hear ppl’s views on how biodiversity can contribute to singapore’s sustainability.

some of my take aways are below.

The mangrove tree Bruguiera hainesii is critically endangered (which puts it in the same category as pandas). and Singapore is home to 4 of these trees. 2 of them are at tekong. in comparison, the whole of vietnam only has 2 trees of this species. i was actually shocked to hear the numbers. im not really a plant person, but when numbers are brought out, it strikes you that FOUR is a really small number.

someone also spoke abt invasive alien species, with the albizia tree as an example. it is a really fast growing tree. from a seed to 7m high within a year, to 16m within 3 yrs and 33m high within 5 yrs. and to think that some trees dont even fruit until a decade later. so while this tree, being non-native, and having not a very strong trunk system, tends to break off easily during thunderstorms, and have even caused damage to vehicles parked nearby as it falls. still, the arguement is that this tree is home to some species of birds that take refuge at its canopy, nesting.

someone also briefly mentioned abt a causeway link between 3 of our southern islands. i seem to have heard it before, but im not really sure where it stands at the moment. i’d think that while it allows more ppl to know know abt the islands we have (cos i just found out that some of my colleagues didnt even know pulau hantu existed, and i thought that was one of the more common islands. some didnt know abt bukom until the shell fires.), increased visitorship to these islands, if not monitored carefully, may increase stress to the marine life. i mean, there will probably be broadwalks constructed and guided tours, but… you know…

well, more presentations focussed on the ecological sustainability of Singapore’s biodiversity. i was inspired by all the records and all the work done by so many ppl. and like the previous symposium, i had some ppl approach us to find out more abt what they can do for the horseshoe crab project after my presentation. and it was really encouraging.

im not much of a sociable person, so i still kinda felt more comfortable talking to ppl i found familiar, but i think, meeting ppl is a skill i got to learn because networking is soooo important. sharing of information and knowledge and ideas and etc is so important in the nature circle. im inspired and i have a whole new perspective on symposiums and conferences. these are where ppl of similar interests gather to share their views.

must commend NSS for coordinating this conference and doing a great job.

ps: something made me reaaaaaaaaaally envious though. i wish i had gotten that $700 Leica Binoculars in that lucky draw!!!!!!! i want!!!!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in i-Bio, i-Learn, i-Marvel

 

nature enthusiasts gather at 3rd BioD Symposium

the third Biodiversity Symposium happened at NUS on almost a month ago.

it was my first time being surrounded by so many ppl who were all experts in their field… it was an amazing sharing session with many experienced people sharing what they knew. as nostalgic as it was going back to NUS, i actually really enjoyed the short 10-min straight to the point presentations we had throughout the day!

Ria’s to-the-point presentation was so impactful, no one could say there was no marine life in singapore. you can hear her presentation here, at 24 minutes into the video.

I CANT WAIT FOR THE NATUAL HISTORY MUSEUM TO OPEN!!!! singapore’s very own! 🙂 the presentation on the natural history museum can be heard here. its the first 10 mins of the video.

and there were many other presentations that were to informative. the coral spawning presenter’s ‘sex and the sea’ was also interesting.you can hear the presentation here, at 25 minutes into the video.

the presentation on the new eco-link linking the central catchment area to bt timah great and we learnt about the effects of fragmentation. we learnt of plans for sungei buloh (i had mixed thoughts abt that though…)

the dialogue sessions after each segment of presentations were really really good. people asked questions, many people answered each others questions with an aim to share ideas and clear misconceptions. but what struck me the most was that there really really was a lack of importance given to TRUE biodiversity lessons in schools. the gap is too wide and between primary schools where biod is introduced and university.

seemingly, this symposium was brought together within a couple of months. but so beneficial it was, there were so many questions raised by ppl who genuinely wanted to know more / make a difference.

new knowledge gained, new ideas forged, new possibilities of collaborations.

after the end, we had 2 ppl who came up to me to ask abt volunteering and collaborating with us on the horseshoe crab project. perhaps that is why presentations are so important. it allows different interest groups to know where the others are doing. spark off more interest and ideas and they can work together. it is so interesting how sharing of information can interest potential collaborators and ppl who can give ideas on how to further improve a project. im glad i presented. and i was really pleasantly encouraged. 🙂

got to commend NParks and NUS on setting up the third biodiversity symposium.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in i-Bio, i-Marvel

 

Meeting Dr Jane Goodall

a number of times she has come to Singapore, and yet i never had the time to go down to meet her. today, i did. i had the car, i drove to geylang east library and we waited for her…… and she came. and boy was there a loud loud applause. what a feeling it was to finally see this woman who’s defined what studying animal behaviour is all about!

she is such an inspiration and to hear her talk abt her passion almost brought me to tears a couple of times (but you know its a full hall and there were adults and kids around and of course i didnt want to embarrass myself).

when asked abt how she managed to go to africa to study chimps, she said (apart from the support from her mom), “if you really want something, you work hard, you find opportunities, you’ll find a way”

its all abt using the opportunities. sometimes, creating the opportunities, like im starting to do for myself. perhaps a little fast sometimes even for my liking. but, im glad im doing what im doing now for myself cos i really want to be happy. 🙂

when asked abt how she is able to get over the negatives, and still find the passion, she recounted this story of someone she met during her travels. this guy told her this story abt how he managed to get the rapidly depleting numbers of black robins back up.

“when the whites introduced cats to the country, the numbers of black robins went terribly down. this person, having a special interest in black robins, kept asking the govt to allow the birds to be preserved in another area, though countless times got rejected. by the time the govt accepted his proposal, there were only 27 black robins (in the whole world). he brought all these 27 birds to this other area where there were no natural predators. of these 27 birds, only 1 was female, and her mate happened to be sterile. usually these birds stay together when they pair up, but this single female happened to mate with a younger male and eventually laid 2 eggs. his man took a risk and took away the 2 eggs and left it at another bird’s nest to be harvested. this stimulated the black robins to lay another 2 eggs, which once again he took away to be harvested by some other birds. and this stimulated the black robins to lay the final 2 eggs. all 6 eggs hatched, and were fully grown and they continued to mate naturally. now, there are over 400 black robins in the world.” (this should join the list of 5 species that cheated extinction.)

Dr Goodall said, the success stories of how ppl help these animals in need motivate her to continue. she said that he told her, “things may go wrong in your life, but dont give up”

and you know what, as appropriate as this seems for me, things might have gone wrong in my life, but, happiness can be found and i dont want to give up on life yet. 🙂

after the talk, i desperately wanted a pic with her… but there were all these ppl who wanted her autographs and she had to visit all these booths and i was so afraid that she’d just go off once she was done with them, then i might have been a little anxious trying to ask the ppl around her 3 times whether i could get a pic with her. i hope they werent too irritated with me… 😦

when i finally did get the chance, she remarked, “i waited years to get to the chimps, surely you could wait 10 minutes?” hahaha………….. it wasnt 10 min… it was half an hour… but thats alright. i knew she had booths to see and i sure hope those kids knew how gifted they were that she spoke to them and shared their stories. and she knew i was trying to get to her. after the photo, i told her how it was such an honour to meet her and that she is an inspiration. we smiled, shook hands and parted.

and then i wanted to jump up and down, but you know like its a public library. so i behaved like a demure girl.

but, you know what, i’m really really really glad i met Dr Jane Goodall. Its such a fulfilling experience to hear from someone who passionate abt chimpanzee and animals. and abt how its all abt whether the younger children can believe in the cause.

normally i never put up photos of myself, but i think this is something im really proud of. 🙂

here’s the photograph with her. the 78 year old lady who has accomplished SO much and has been a pioneer in the field of understanding primate behaviour. so close that they are her friends. i feel so blessed. 😀

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in i-Bio, i-Learn, i-Marvel

 

knobbly haven at Cyrene Reef

it was my first every trip to Cyrene with Team Seagrass, and i was ever so looking forward to it!

it was an early morning trip and the first boat we sat in was so warm and welcoming! the waters were so choppy i just couldnt get a stable shot!

we finally neared cyrene, but i think they docked at the wrong spot. the 2nd boat ferried us to nearer the shore and we had to use a ladder to get off the boat and with almost half our bodies submerged in the water (imagine the red guy being so tall and he was already half in!), we slowly and cautiously walked to the sand bar.

and the first thing that made me smile? a pair of terns. it was the first time i saw them and these birds were so unaware of our existence that they flew past us several times without any fear. they are beautiful…. beautiful! 🙂 so amazed i was, i didnt even take out my cam to snap a shot of them. i just stood there and watched them fly past me.. 🙂 here though, is a video of terns…. just to remind me of how beautiful they are.. 🙂 my new favourite birds!

my next new favourite animal is the sea urchin. such cute creatures, i really wonder how they throw on top of themselves all those stones and grasses to camouflage themselves!

i spotted tiny tiny anemonies among the sea grasses… so tiny!

a fan shell

we saw this eagle land quite close to us on this uninhabited place.

a jellyfish trapped in a pool of water.

flatworms!

some egg or something??

here a thunder crab! a big one.

and a tiny one. spot the crab!

spot the crab yet again!

sea cucumber

sand dollars were spotted

the best this is……….. this place is a haven for knobblies! so many colours and so many patterns, these knobblies are just amazing! i

couldnt get enough of them, and they couldnt resist showing!

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

more and more and more knobblies!

KS did mention that knobblies are abundant in this place…. and he set us curiously looking for this creature called a galloping seastar

KS had a lovely video of it on his hp, and i cant seem to find one on youtube. so… im sry  i cant share…

so involved everyone was, i didnt want to leave the place!

but we kinda had to leave…

it was the best weather we could ask for. drizzled for a bit, but, at least it wasnt scorching hot or raining heavily. 🙂 great trip out!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in i-Bio, i-Marvel

 

semakau and kranji mudflats

a weekend just the way i like…….

it was absolutely treacherous getting up at 4am to get to marina south pier by 530am. but it was all so worth it.

it was supposed to be a 1hr boat ride to semakau, but it seemed too short cos many of us fell asleep for obvious reasons.

as usual, it turned out that weather patterns in off shore islands are totally different from those on land. a slight drizzle soon turned out to be a passing shower. which we were still thankful for, cos it could have been worse.

a monitor lizard crawled along the long windy road as we walked. i dont like small lizards. i like ’em when they’ve large! this was a tiny one.

down on the shore, we soon started with out transects after the briefing..

we saw this thing that looks like some sea squirt?? i dont know.

and then i spotted this white blog on the blades of the seagrass. its a spotted nudibranch i think. it was so pretty…

and then we realised that there was a smaller one next to the larger one.

it was a mommy and a baby i think..

check out the insides of the nudi!

we saw this sea cucumber.

many colourful sponges

    

but our best find for the day was this sea hare. it was my first ever sighting and lucky for me, my partner knew it was a sea hare!

we initially saw red colouration and thought it was blood. but when we touched it, it felt somewhat like goo… we searched inside and saw this creature which i initially thought was the inside of a noble volute. but this creature was soooooo soft to touch and so delicate! i didnt dare to move it! haha.. my partner took it real softly, and keeping it under water, inspected if that was what caused the red ink. true enough, this sea hare was releasing red ink. we thought it might either be some chemical released for mating purposes or for defense. on the boat ride, we later discovered that (like cuttlefish and stuff) it releases red colouration as a deterrent when it feels threatened. too bad, we couldnt see the predator that caused it to release the red ink.

here, enjoy the video!

among other things we saw

this really long thing. i think its a sea cucumber. ive just never seen it move much before, so i was quite interested in seeing how it did..

and just a nice random shell…

sunday morning was spent at kranji mudflats. taught new ppl abt horseshoe crabs and discussed some conference thingy with the team. i wish i could go to the HK conference in june, but the dates of the conference fall exactly on the dates im in perth! crap! anyway, off to collect water and stuff, i saw this white dog eating a flower crab. seriously, i could hear the crunch! so traumatised i was, i didnt take out my camera in time to capture it! lol…

but anyway, this white (female) dog had one hell of a morning. ‘doing’ it with TWO other male dogs at various places and various times throughout the first hour! haha! the scene was so hilarious! i chose to give them some privacy lah…. no photos/videos of them ‘doing’ it!

each trip i go there, i get more and more impressed with the students that go there. the sec/jc ones go on a voluntary basis. what impresses me the most are the primary sch ones whom the trs bring. they are so mature in the way they handle the unknown. they are eager to try. they dont say, “eeeeee”. i used to think that teaching in a pri sch would be such a mess and that i wouldnt be able to handle them. but now i think, more than ever, the trs in primary sch are so impt. they set the mindsets actually. more than any of us, they set the frame of mind of the child. whether to speak intelligently, whether to respond in a respectable way… they have such a big role to play… hmmm…

anyway, standard happenings at kranji mudflats and i was too busy to grab pictures.

save for this juvenile that was moulting. horseshoe crabs are most vulnerable when they moult cos their shell is so soft.. thats when they get eaten. of course, this isnt inclusive of the times they (including the larger ones) get entangled in drift nets or when they start swallowing fishing lines thinking its flatworms maybe?

it was a good 2 days. and to celebrate it, i went for a jog… how much better can it get?

well the day has ended, and tmr its back to clearing up the mess this OCIP is causing me.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in i-Bio

 

Bird Watching on Sunday

i went on my virgin bird watching trip – officially joining a group of bird watchers – to dairy farm nature reserve yesterday. knowing i’m going to be one of the few with lesser-knowledge-than-amateurs, i was excited to learn whatever the experts taught. our guide, Kim Chuah, was very experienced.

he picked out all those bird calls when i couldnt even hear them. he even picked out the various bird calls among a cluster of bird calls! wow… ive learnt 2 bird calls. and learnt to identify 3 species of birds.

i only brought my sony compact camera and my bins – photos arent of the best quality since i used the camera eye piece through my bins and zoomed in to capture them.

enjoy!

this bird is called the Oriole.

these are pink necked pigeons

racket-tailed drongo. one of the calls ive learnt to identify cos its just so… obvious (now).

i think this next pic is the olive winged bulbul

a tiger shrike

an olive winged bulbul on the right side and a tiger shrike on the left.. it took me a while to even figure out that they were 2 DIFFERENT birds!

a woodpecker

other birds we saw were the crimson sunbird – its awesome crimson-red colour was really eye catching!

also saw the blue winged leaf bird, which had magnificent colours…… it took me a while to locate their venue on a huge tree far away……. we had to wait for movement, and believe me, these birds are quite to move!

also saw many bee eaters. the others actually saw the bee eaters going after insects. i didnt. i just saw them flying quite low down near the surface of the water.

then there was the blue throated kingfisher. really nice colours too.

and munias which were actually quite close to us on the shrubs and tall grasses, but, their movements were so quick and they were so sensitive to our movements, i just couldnt get a clean shot of them…

this is another bird, i cant remember what its called.

also learnt while chatting with Kim Chuah how ppl started getting called ‘kuku bird’ – this story of how the Kuku (cuckoo) parasites on the crow. laying its eggs on the crow’s nest, and when the eggs hatch, the crow takes care of them… (or something like that)

halfway through the walk, see what i spotted!


“i can see my house from here!!!”

the walk up was long and draining – having to keep your head up most of the time cos obviously thats where you find most birds.

we finally reached the quarry…….

check out how the group got right down to business – looking out for the tiniest movements in trees so that they can spot the birds!

and the view of course was fantastic!

we saw the common kingfisher (which is actually rarer than the blue throated kingfisher)

the exciting find for the day was the grey headed fish eagle…

of course we were all waiting for the eagle to fly off… and there did appear to be a couple of moments when we thought the bird was getting ready to launch! eventually it did – but only when we all packed up our equipment, ready to head back!

here are other flora and fauna that caught my eye..

i love this shot!

leaf footed bug, i think…

slender squirrel…

2 crickets – looks like one male and one female…?

apple snail (that black circular looking thing in the middle of the photo)

apple snail eggs

showing the stigma and anthers…….. beautiful colours..

i just LURVE seeing young ferns………. they make everything feel innocent and fresh…!

it was a great first experience…………….. i learnt so many things, it felt like i was going on a learning fieldtrip……

and i really enjoyed learning abt these things…….. its like, once you get involved in nature, you get addicted and slowly you’ll want to know everything associated to it………. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in i-Bio, i-Learn, i-Marvel

 
 
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