Wan-Ting’s wonderful photos from a 20-day work experience trip with EcoFieldTrips to Tioman Island, a small island located 32 km off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Pahang, from a scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata) to an underwater treadmill that was probably used as reef-building material.
Originally posted on C'EST LA VIE:
At the beginning of May I left for a 20-days work experience trip with EcoFieldTrips, a company that mainly organises and lead fieldtrips in Tioman for school groups. Tioman is a small tropical island on the east coast of Malaysia that’s approximately half the size of Singapore. Most of the island remain happily undeveloped – the main industry is tourism, concentrated in a few small villages along the coast. During the duration of 20 days I did 4 school trips almost back-to-back: UWCSEA 1 (United World College South East Asia), UWCSEA 2, TTS (Tanglin Trust School), and Nexus Kuala Lumpur. UWC and TTS are both international schools in Singapore on the IB (International Baccalaureate) syllabus. The groups were spread out across a spectrum of age groups too. The UWCSEA groups were the oldest (17-18 year olds), Nexus was 15-16, and TTS had the little 12 year old kids. It probably won’t be the best idea to write about how I felt about each group here, but some were definitely more pleasant than others. I won’t go into details for each of the trips, because they all follow almost the same itinerary – arrival and snorkel introduction on day one, rainforest on day two, snorkeling on day three, mangroves and data analysis on day four, and home on day five.
This was my 3rd time to Tioman, the first when I was really young which I had no recollection of, and the second during a school trip 3 years ago, to the same resort. It was rather interesting seeing how the place (and the people) have changed.
A scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata), taken at the rest stop during my trip up to Tioman with the UWCSEA 1 group.The night that followed had one of the rare spring tides, where the water retreated so low that some of the corals were exposed. That was when we had a seashore survey at the unearthly hour of 1am in the morning, to catch the lowest of the tide. This is possibly a cluster of octopus eggs, found under a rock.An interesting goby species that seem to remain in its burrow on the rocks even as the tide retreats. Also it has a funny face.There was a family of cats in the classroom at Paya Beach Resort, where we give presentations to the students. They were so adorably disruptive during presentations – strutting around, chasing each other, and mewing loudly. Cats are a problem on Tioman though, as are invasive mammals to most islands – they are, by instinct, hunters, and they do actively hunt the local wildlife. Similar examples exist in many other places. The dodo bird, for example, went extinct when cats and rats brought by early settlers hunted them down along with their eggs.The jungle trek during the UWCSEA 1 group is probably going to be one of the best I’ve ever done, in terms of the animals I’ve seen. The first sighting of the day was this chameleon anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus), clinging to a low trunk. They’re so called chameleon angleheads because they can change colour to match that of their environment. They aren’t actually chameleons though, to get those you’ve to go to Madagascar.Pill millipede! It tickles when you hold it. It also rolls up into a snug little ball if you poke it too much.A harvestman – which is not a spider! These are, amazingly, herbivores. I can’t believe this Attenborough-documentary moment actually happened to me. An oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina) was spotted swallowing a chameleon anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus) while hanging from a tree.I didn’t actually recognise it as an oriental whip snake at first, because its skin was stretched so much to accomodate the lizard that its distinct green colour was almost invisible. Instead the checkerboard pattern under its scales had become very obvious.It took almost half an hour to finish swallowing its meal.After which it promptly slithered up the tree to escape from all the sudden attention it’s received.A caterpillar wandering about on a leaf.Earless agamid (Aphaniotis fusca). I love their stunning blue eyes. They’ve got matching blue mouths as well.The third chameleon anglehead lizard of the day, this one a brown colour like the tree trunk it was on.A red-eyed reef crab (Eriphia ferox) from another seashore walk where I saw at least 7 of them. Predatory crabs like these usually have one big claw used for hunting and crushing prey and one smaller claw used for feeding.A free swimming bristleworm spotted in the mangroves. Fishlings among Rhizophora mangrove roots! I was really hoping to see a young shark and a little stingray but no luck.