Marine activities for Raptor Watch

Story and photo by Saras Kumar

There may have been fewer raptors flying overhead this year but Raptor Watch 2004 (March 6-7) was bigger and better in every other way. There were a great many activities this year thanks to the hard work of MNS staff and volunteers and of course our generous sponsors, including HSBC, this year’s main sponsor.

From the marine side we actually found more marine animals compared to previous years. Not to say that the habitat is improving but the school kids got even more adventurous and managed to find more than the usual soldier crabs, hermit crabs, mudskippers and marine snails. This year they found a baby moray eel, sea slugs, baby squids, a cowrie (usually collected for their beautiful shells) and a decorator crab (see photo) which may be a new record for the area.

During the public marine walk we managed to spot turtles while at the lighthouse and did manage to see some live coral and coral reef fishes. It is a shame to note that siltation is badly affecting the corals; before the development of Port Dickson the coral reef at Tanjung Tuan may have once looked similar to those of the East Coast of Malaysia. A visit to take photographs for the exhibition posters earlier in the year revealed many coral reef fishes and invertebrates but most of the photos were unusable due to the high sediment content of the water.

saraskumar_decoratorcrabAside from the usual beach walks, the Marine Special Interest Group was able to buy equipment and run a competition for the school groups, run a children’s colouring competition and draw up new exhibition material thanks to a grant from PADI Project AWARE. Thanks to all those who made Raptor Watch a success and see you all next year!

What is a Decorator Crab?

This crab species selects pieces of seaweed and small animals like anemones, sponges and bryozoans. from its habitat and fastens them to hooked setae (Velcro-like material) on the back of its shell. As long as the crab stays in the same area, it blends in and looks at home. Crabs that have grown large enough to defend themselves don’t decorate their backs; however, plants and animals settle there without help, take hold and grow.