justin dive adventures

Monday, November 2, 2009

Project or environment disaster?

Recently, on a paticular long weekend, one dive-centre embarked on a project, putting structure right outside the cove of Telok Teluran off Pulau Aur. Details of the structure is as follows...

The structure was about 8m by 2m made up of metal pickets, metal strings, hola loops and 1.5L water bottles (Refer to picture below) and was supposed to be a training circuit for a speciality module in diving.
However, there were some questionable issues to be addressed about this project.

First, the materials used for the structure were definately harmful to the environment. Mainly, the paintworks of the metal pickets will react with the seawater causing it to peel off. Such fragments will inevitably be toxic when consumed by any marine creatures. To make it worst, PLASTIC BOTTLES and HOLA HOOPS are well-known trash in the marine environment. Hence, when the structure breaks apart, it will definitely contribute to the millions of tonnes of trash already floating in the oceans.

Secondly, this stucture was doubtlessly not sturdy enough to withstand the forces of nature, for example, underwater currents, corrosive nature of seawater. This was because the structures were merely tied together and not well cemented to each other. Also, the WATER BOTTLES were tied to the handle could easily be detached. Hence, not undermining the FORCES OF NATURE, this structure would indeed not endure.

However, sources had it that the organisers claimed that this structure was located in a sheltered area. This point can easily be disputed with the fact that is there really an area underwater which is free from the works of nature.

Therefore, supplied with sufficient data from various sources, the marine park authorities of Malaysia deployed their craft 2 weeks later to search and remove the structure. Below is the rough location of the structure.

Hence, on a Saturday morning, an undislosed number of divers plunge off the marine park's speedboat to search for the structure and found it at depth of 18m.

To our surprise, the structure was already DISINTEGRATED, leaving only the metal frame on the seabed. To top it up, it is located extremely close to the reef (refer to the picture below). Also THE STRUCTURE WAS NOT LOCATED AT THE SHELTERED REGION OF THE COVE!

What were left are the metal strings tied to the metal frame.

Painworks were already starting to peel off.
The hola-hoops and plastic bottles were not found in the near vicinity of the structure. Probably, it was swept far away by the current, which may cause damage to the marine environment somewhere else.

As such, we planned to remove the structure immediately before this structure disintegrate further. Thus, with our limited manpower, and careful planning and organisation, we managed to dismantle and remove the structure from the seabead within 45mins, while preventing any damage to the surrounding reefs.

As such, there are a few questions to be addressed.

Please note that this is a professional entry... Comments are definitely welcomed... But I would appreciate if anyone who comments refrain from any personal attacks.... Also, it will be good to identify yourself when commenting...

Monday, September 21, 2009


28th August 2009... Justin was 25 years old 2 months...

He was on he way on a boat in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO TIOMAN...

He was somewhat involved with strings of briefings till he was extremely tired.. And he decided to walk towards the bow(front) to retire for the night..

With water bottle on one hand and his wind breaker on the other, he walked along the side of the boat without holding on to the railing.. Probably due to his overcomplacency...

Suddenly, the boat rocked slightly. Due to the slow reaction time from the lack of sleep. Justin suddenly found himself floating on the water! Seeing the boat cruised past him..

Just as the boat was about to pass him completely, a realisation suddenly set in that he was overboard. However, panic was not present because of his lack of sleep. Instead, he just shout twice. Fortunately, one of the crew on board heard the distress call, which stunted him.. Upon realising the situation, he immediately called out to the boatman to stop the boat.

The boat came to a halt about 100m away from Justin.

At this point in time, eveyone on board were panicking. Spot light was on and small torchs started to shine from the boat. Everyone was awaken by the incident. None expected such to happen. Nevertheless, a real case has occured. Man was indeed overboard!! Almost everyone were frantically trying to locate Justin in the dark waters.

On Justin's side, thinking that he was already spotted by the people on board because the boat was moving towards him, he got busy to create floatation device for himself. He used his 1/4 filled water bottle as a float while zipping up his wind-breaker to convert into a float. Since, this was not an easy fleat, he was entirely oblivious of the fact that he was not seen by those on-board yet. It was only after he complete his floatation device that he shouted to those on board again. Only after that was he spotted.

Thus, the boat locked on to him and approached towards him. He was subsequently rescued, but with heavy losses in terms of material processions.

After the rescue, and everyone on board accounted for, the boat continued its journey to Tioman with everyone fully awake, recovering from the trama of man-overboard....

Real man-overboard situation on a trip where rescue couse was ongoing.. Really woke everyone up...

Valuables loss for Justin:
Wallet fully soaked
Passport crumpled
Handphone flooded till unrevivable
Car romote alarm key damaged

Really expensive loss......

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waves like petals of flowers

On the 7th day of August in the year of the LORD 2009, a group of 16 divers departed from Singapore in search for adventures underwater around the waters of the sunny island of Pulau Redang. The following are abstracts from the diary of one of the crew on-board….
Day 1-3:

'It has been 10 hours since we last set off and there is still no sign of the coast. First light is already seen. If we do not reach the harbor (jetty) soon, we may miss our transfer ..... ….. (missing information)…'

… 'We did a total of 5 dives during the trip'…

…' We were greeted by a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) during our first dive, sort of a good welcoming gesture'…

… 'Overall, the dives were good, it was like underwater garden down below. Ecosystem seems healthy…'

… 'Apart from the usual fishes, blue spotted sting rays (Taeniura lymma) were the next most common creatures during this trip which actually made to salivate…thinking of the ikan baka (BBQ stingray)…'

Point to ponder:
Ever wonder why BBQ stinkray taste horrible when cold??


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Toddycats' first labrador walk

On 8th March 2008, toddycats conducted a walk at Labrador Park for its members.. I had the privilage to be the guide for the group from NUS-SPS(Special program in Science).
The walk was scheduled to start at 4pm. However, the over enthusiasm of the SPS group caused them to arrived extremely early, at 3:15pm, and waiting at the designated meeting place. As such, they had to wait for their guide who, oblivious to them, slipped into their midst when he arrived at 3:30pm!
However, at 4pm, other than this group of people, no one else was around! Deep in my mind, I was concerned: Was no one else turning up? Then I called Siva, but he did not pick up the phone! Oh no!... Until I heard news from one of the other participants...
In fact, the rest of the participants were gathering and waitng at the entrance of the park, and eating ice-cream with Siva! It was only at around 4:30pm that they slowly strolled to the designated meeting point...
The walk proceed as expected since then.... I was unable to take any pictures on that day as I was busy guiding. However, my enthusiastic group contributed the following pictures..

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Love is in the sea...

On 9th March 2008, the group 'Hermit Crab' consisting of 7 participants and 2 guides visited the Semakau Landfill with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research for Nature Walks. The main guide was Ka Ching and her assistant: Justin.

When we first arrived on the island, it was raining cat and dogs, which was a disappointment for many of us as our walks are very rain dependent. However, it stopped right before the Semakau tour began.
Landfill tours
Participants were first introduced by the NEA guide to the operations of the landfill through a bus ride along the man-made bun which surrounds the site. Along the way, they were introduced to the marine-transfer-station where participants had opportunity to smell the incinerated waste to be deposited on the landfills. Next, they were shown the landfills cells while travelling along the man-made buns to the southern-most point of the landfill, which is also the southern-most point at which the public can access. There, the participants alight for picture taking.

Next, the bus brought the group to the entrance of the secondary coastal forest which grows on the actual Pulau Semakau. There, the group tracked along the water-logged footpath to the intertidal areas of the island, where the shore tours began, incidentally with strong theme of love..
Arrival at the shores
First, participants were briefly explained by Ka Ching to intertidal zone of the shores. Hence, emphasis was on the need for adaptions of the creatures found there due to the harsh conditions caused by tidal change. Thereafter, they were introduced to the first animal on the shore - OYSTERS.

Love Choice of female Fiddler
Next, the group were led to the small mangrove patch where they were introduced to the plant and its community. Examples include the stilt root and vivipary of the Rhizophora plant, the anaerobic conditions of the soil and most captivating, the love life of the fiddler crabs.

The male of the fiddler crabs has one of its claws abnormally enlarged. With this cumbersome large claw, the male feeding and movement ability is compromised. On top of that, their large claws make them easier to be spotted by predators and to some extent, decrease their survival chances. Hence the question was: Why then does male fiddler crabs have one abnormally large claws if it is so disadvantage to them? The answer is in LOVE...

Biologically speaking, this is called sexual selection, where in this case, the female fiddler crabs have a "WEIRD" preferences to mate with males with one abnormally large claws. Hence the results: Male offspring also have one large claws. Thus, this traits are passed on to subsequent generations. Males with claws which are both normal sized will therefore not be able to find mate and hence not able to reproduce. (Note: Love lesson no. 1 from nature: Love may not always be logical)

Possessive love story of Common Sea star
After that, the "Hermit Crabs" were shown the Common Sea Stars. On top of their distinct tube feet and camouflaging colouration, the next love story was told here - How to stake claim on your mate.
When the sea stars are about to mate, the smaller male will stack on top of the female in order to 'stake its claim' on the female (Picture can be found at this link). However, their sexual organs are not in contact with each other. Hence for successful mating, both the eggs and sperms were released in synchrony for fertilisation to occur externally! A very unique way of making babies.....
The next love story told was from the world of hermaphrodites, with examples from some species of flatworms and nudibranch. As it requires more investments to be the female in reproduction, some of these hermaphrodites species will literally duel to be the male in the courtship! Each of them will attempt to stab their penis into an exposed area of its sex partner's body while avoiding getting jabbed itself. In some cases, they even attempt to cut off each other's penis (termed penis fencing)!! In the end, the loser of this mating duel will be the female...
Eggs of mollusks
As the group ventured further seaward, products of reproductions were spotted... Eggs... From the phylum mollusa. Strings of snail eggs were spotted. Also, the group had the privilege of watching a 'nature slow delivery' of Noble Volute (2nd picture below) laying eggs! Seeing the group's strong interest in reproduction, when a nerite was explained to them, Justin took the opportunity to show the group on how the nerites mate(Picture far below, not from the walk)
Therefore, the walk for the 'hermit crabs' do indeed contain essence of "Love in the sea". And its atmosphere was made more apparent under the romantic sunset backdrop of Pulau Semakau....

Pictures of some of the 'hermit crab':


Other organisms featured on the tour:

Fan Worm

Assortment of Sea cucumbers

Knobby Cake Sea Star



sexual selection: A form of natural selection in which, according to Darwin's theory, the male or female is attracted by certain characteristics, form, colour, behaviour, etc., in the opposite sex; thus modifications of a special nature are brought about in the species.

hermaphrodite: animal having both male female reproductive organs

mollusks: A phylum of coelomate protosome animals characteristized by a soft body, viseral mass, mantle, and foot


Definition: Sexual selection from Online Medical Dictionary (2000).University of Newcastle upon Tyne-The Centre for Cancer Education. Retrieved 23:00, March 10, 2008, from http://cancerweb.ncl.ac.uk/cgi-bin/omd?sexual+selection

Peter K.L. Ng, Shirley S.L. Lim, Wang Luan-Keng, Leo W.H. Tan.(2007) Private Lives, An Expose of Singapore's Shores. The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.

WordNet Search - 3.0: hermaphrodite. (2006). Cognitive Science Laboratory,Princeton University. Retrieved 23:00, March 10, 2008, from

S. Milius (1998) 'Hermaphrodites duel for manhood'. Science News Online. Retrieved 23:00, March 10, 2008, from

Solomon, Berg and Martin. (2008) Biology, 8th Edition. Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'Longkang habitat' in Pulau Ubin

During the earlier days, when kampongs were still a common sight on mainland Singapore, 'longkangs' were playgrounds to the now-grown-up kids. They would catch fishs such as bettas (most people know it as 'fighting fish') to rear them and subsequently used them to fight with their friends' bettas.

Also, it was also a place of owners to release fishes and other animals 'back to their nature'. Some of these released animals were not native in our region. Over time, a community of both native and invasive species is created within the longkang, eventually forming a longkang habitat.........

Recently, while walking along a road in Pulau Ubin with KS, RY, JL and IV, we chanced upon a longkang which was teaming with life. With one glance, we saw animals from 2 phylums and about 5 classes, mainly from the subphylum Vetebrata which is under phylum Chordata.

Apparently, like other longkangs, there were some invasive species, for example the tortise (class reptilia), which we could not take pictures of due to reflection of the water. Also, this fish (identification unknown) may not be a native as well.
Schools of what looked like small half-beaks were also seen as well (picture below).
As this longkang is in close proximity to a mangrove habitat, some of the mangrove species were also seen, mainly the gobies..

Also, a tree climbing crab (Episesarma sp.)was spotted by KS at the edge of the longkang (picture above). Some small mudlobster mounds (no picture) and burrows (picture below) were seen around the longkang as well. Species from the subphylum Crustacea (refer to the Spiders at our backyard..) seems to have a foothold here as well.
Couldn't resist the temptation, I decided to enter the longkang(picture below) to 'be 1 with the habitat' as well while the rest remained on the road to watch from a distance (picture far below). There, I tasted the water as well to confirm that it was fresh water.

However, time passed quite quickly and we had to move on. Reluctantly, I had to leave the longkang, bringing nothing but pictures and an experience which not many urban dwellers have in our air-conditioned nation....
Note: scientifically, there is no such term as longkang habitat.


longkang ==> drain

Vetebrate: chordates which has a backbone, or vertebral column, that forms the skeletal axis of the body.
Chordates: Deuterostome animals that, at some time in their lives, have a cartilaginous, dorsal skeletal structure called a notochord; a dorsal, tubular, nerve cord; pharyngeal gill grooves; and a postanal tail.
Also featured in:
Solomon, Berg and Martin. (2008) Biology, 8th Edition. Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Peter K L Ng and N Sivasothi. (1999) "A Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore II: Animal Diversity". Singapore Science Centre.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Labrador Episode 4: A New Hope

A short time ago in the beach far away......

It is a period of debris. bloggers, writing from a hiden base, have won their first victory against the destruction to the intertidals of Labrador.

During the visit, blogger managed to take pictures of the remnant of the threat's ultimate structure, the CON-CRETE, a foreign object with enough power to destroy an entire area beneath it.

Persued with the extreme excitment, Justin races home abroad his car, custodian of the remainder concretes that can save the habitat and restore life to the beach of Labrador....

Thus... A NEW HOPE.....

Scenes from previous episodes:

Synoposis for next Episode: Return of the Labrador...
when these are removed...

Other Versions:

Under protection?


Updates on large concrete slabs on Labrador shore
Note: abstract edited from the opening of Starwars episode 4.