This week, Marine Guide Nurul Aidah Fazil takes us to the Strait of Malacca & Andaman Sea in the S.E.A. Aquarium – perfect nurturing grounds for fishes before they venture out into the open ocean.
Where: Right after the tunnel
Must-see: Discovery Touch Pool, Coral Garden and the Cuttlefish exhibit
Bonus: Try spotting Gobies feasting on planktons trapped in the sand
Marine animals: Goby, Razorfish, Blue Tang
Tips: The Discovery Touch Pool can get pretty crowded, so be patient and wait for your turn.
One can say that the Strait of Malacca & Andaman Sea function as a big nursery underwater; preparing the young and impressionable for survival before they jostle with the big fishes in the open ocean. Indeed, the habitat consists of plenty of vital ingredients that will nurture the fishes.
One example is the seagrass meadows. Ubiquitous like its cousin on land and abundantly found in shallow coastal waters exposed to sufficient sunlight, seagrass is a source of food and shelter for the small fish and crustaceans. It can also stabilize the seabed and protect against coastal erosion.
When we look closer, we are intrigued by a small group of vertical swimming fish. Named for their razor-thin belly, razorfish swim with their head pointed down and tail up, where it moves up and down like a buoy. A possible reason suggests its basic survival instincts and highlights their expertise in mimicry.
“They are mimicking the sea grass for protection. When they school together, the razorfish actually do look like seagrass,” says Aidah.
If you direct your eyes downwards, you will catch the ravenous gobies in action. They are usually found feeding on planktons trapped in the sand and aren’t very picky when it comes to food. Plankton, sand and all get gobbled up, only to have the sand released through their gills later. Talk about having a big appetite.
The Discovery Touch Pool is the best place to get up-close and personal with the knobbly sea star, sea cucumber and other marine invertebrates. Our friendly education guides can regale you with fun facts about these marine animals. After you are done, remember to wash your hands.
Next is our latest exhibit in the aquarium – the cuttlefish habitat. “They have been reproducing very quickly and we have around 30 of them now,” says Aidah. A cuttlefish has eight arms for movement and two tentacles, with a single large suction cup at each end, for securing their prey.
And before you exit the Strait of Malacca & Andaman Sea, pose for a picture in front of the majestic Coral Garden, where you will be transported into a colourful world of corals and reef fishes in the Andaman region.
Next week, we travel to the mangroves, where water is brackish and fishes “shoot arrows” – stay tuned! Read more about the other zones in the aquarium here.