Urban Tropical Ecology in Singapore

Islands and Otters
by -- February 29th, 2016

Today we awoke bright and early to depart at 8:00 am for St. John’s Island (not to be confused with the island of the same name in the Caribbean).  We took a ferry to the island where we walked a stray cat populated path to TMSI’s marine laboratory where we learned about flooding in Singapore and various marine biology projects including biodiversity surveys and Giant Clam restoration. We toured a lab and got to see the giant clam tanks, where the organisms are being bred in an attempt to revive their critically endangered population. The clams had surprisingly gorgeous and colorful patterns.

Colorful Giant Clams at TMSI's marine lab

Colorful Giant Clams at TMSI’s marine lab

After the morning at TMSI’s marine lab, we boarded the ferry to Kusu Island, which had gorgeous views of the water and Singapore’s harbor in the distance and gave us some time to wander and relax.

Singapore's famous Merlion

Singapore’s famous Merlion

The gleaming highlight of the day, though, came rather unexpectedly. After class had officially ended, we took a train down to Merlion Park to see the famous water-spewing Merlion Statue. After a few photos of Singapore’s mascot, we headed back along the water, and ended up encountering a group of six river otters on a dock below the boardwalk.

Otters playing on the dock near Merlion Park

Otters playing on the dock near Merlion Park

We watched the group roll around,  cuddle, and play fight and heard them communicate with adorable squeaks. After displaying their cute antics for several minutes, a couple of them dove into the water, where we could track their movements through the opaque green by a trail of bubbles rising to the surface. One reemerged shortly after with a hearty fish in his mouth: it was dinner time! We watched as the seemingly cuddly creature displayed its impressive predator abilities, ripping the head from the fish and proceeding to devour it entirely in a matter of minutes. The other otters seemed to agree that it was time for dinner, and darted off into the water, which was our queue to hunt down dinner of our own.

 

A river otter chows down on his catch

A river otter chows down on his catch

1 Comment

  1. Robin Howe McLendon
    Feb 29, 2016

    great fun. Yes otters are deceptively cute yet fierce. I know, having been bitten by them. Hahaha.

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