An assault of fallen stars and naked slugs greeted Sunday's foray to Pulau Sekudu. Most with new to my shallow water duck. The algae bloom is a boon for sap-sucking sarcoglossans, which were probably present in great numbers but failed to capture my dim attention. Their faint trails of slime, however, would shine like lit paths to non-vegan kin such as this Gymnodoris clad in polka-dot pyjamas.
The rubbly sand around the islet harbours a good population of actinarians, most of which also eluded my duck long before the approach of a fowl shadow. Their reputed foe has a softer foot, a harder bite and bristled with inch-long indignance when skinny-dipping fingers violated its cerata to caress a creature of transient fury.
A lone worker ant with jaws of steely resolve was enough to keep a winged cousin from taking off to found its own kingdom. The victim tugged and attempted to lift up to no avail, as its minute captor was in no mood to surrender and possessed the grip of an immoveable object. Stalemate was reached, but with no reinforcements in sight, the bigger beast could still afford to count its blessings and ponder the good it'd do to keep its leg and meet its maker.
These snapping shrimp share their generic name with a brand of bottled water. Like many other marine creatures, there is a mythological origin to their christening. But in this case, the name suits the beverage better, as only a handful of alpheids have snapped their way into freshwater habitats. Their semi-divine namesake is apparently a scion of elemental forces who made an unwelcome pass at a virgin goddess. Failing to win over the frigid huntress, he turned instead to one of her nymphs, who made the unfortunate mistake of skinny-dipping in his watery avatar. He then pursued her all the way to subterranean hideouts, where he finally succeeded in a mutual mingling of heavenly fluids. It's a tale that's not likely to impress this Alpheus macellarius which seemed more concerned with finding his tunnel of love than scoring a hole in one with a little prawn.
Some months after its larger-than-life display of ol' Dave in all his floral glory, the National Museum of Singapore is unveiling another installation of extreme artistic values in Love Tank at the ground level Rotunda. Like its predecessor, S. Teddy D.'s stack of seven battle tanks is unabashedly pink and proud of it. Sitting on a bed of heartbroken rubble, the two-storey high assembly shoots invisible shells from multiplex turrets of pure love.
Scorning pixellated green and the roar of the phalanx, these war machines have suffered the touch of a gentle sage and now mirror the peace of a pagoda and dress their hulls with petals of a shameful colour. Their garb fails to camouflage the creation as a temple to the unbearable weight of tolerance and a paen to dreams of a world where the love of God is not shoved down throats by a show of sheepish force or sleights of legal hands.
In the witching hours, huntsman spiders appear in droves, occupying tree trunks and trail posts with alarming regularity. The swamp becomes their happy hunting ground, as each hairy body stakes out a vertical square of territory to pounce on creatures unfortunate enough to land in their line of sight. Stiff tibial spines help prevent prey from making a getaway through a forest of unruly legs before the spider plunges its fangs into writhing flesh. Emboldened by a night of crescent moons, these fist-size cousins of Hobbitean nightmares emerge from their cracks of doom to roam the forest and incite primal fear and self-loathing with their gift for sliding down necks and hairy navels with the fury of greased lightning.