Flightradar24 to identify that plane overhead and in and out of Changi

Having blogged about Ship Finder, I must mention FlightRadar24, which I first learnt about. It locates and tracks planes the way Ship Finder does for ships.

Here I was observing a flight from Beijing make landfall after crossing the South China Sea a couple of days ago.

Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!

On this midday screen grab from today, notice the wide arc taken by the Tiger Airways flight TGW2104 to Bangkok. Helpful when you plan to take air photo of our coastline and islands and are wondering about the typical trajectory of a particular flight.

Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!

The URL for a flight you might track follow the flight number, e.g. for this flight it is flightradar24.com/TGW2104.

Since we are in a travel hot spot, there is plenty to see when cycling between Punggol – Pasir Ris – Changi – ECP and Marina Bay. Spotting ships and planes with Ship Finder and FlightRadar24 is fun and informative. Both are iPhone apps as well and you can point to planes to identify their types with location settings on!

Flight Radar is also a $5 desktop app for Mac OS X with a tweaks such as airline and altitude filters. There is also the less sophisticated $6 BoatWatch app. All helpful in illuminating some details about the intense air and sea traffic around Singapore.

Welcome to Singapore, Sultan of Brunei! Via Flightradar24
Flightradar24

Boat Watch
Boat Watch

Cargo ship Bold Endurance manoeuvres near Pulau Hantu’s reefs, followed by Debby Ng’s onsite tweets and Ship Finder

This morning, Debby Ng of the The Hantu Bloggers tweeted from Pualu Hantu with a photo, “This ship seems anchored scarily close to the reefs at Pulau Hantu…”

20140420-Bold Endurance

I looked up Ship Finder on my iPhone to identify the ship and learnt it is Bold Endurance, a Barbados-registered cargo ship/cable layer:

Ship Finder - The Live Marine Traffic Tracking App

You can track its position with this Ship Finder link http://shipfinder.co/ship/314112000. Once you know the ship’s name, you can look up more information via sites like MarineTraffic.

As I “watched” via Ship Finder, Bold Endurance carefully manoeuvered in the deep waters off Pulau Hantu, clear of the reefs, under Debby’s concerned watch, to a position further away. Hearts in mouth while she watched, I am sure.

20140420-Bold Edurance: 1120
Map with fringing reef (orange) and patch reef (green) from
the Coral Reefs of Singapore webpage.

Twitter / torvaanser: Bold Endurance has repositioned ...

We have a phenomenal amount of ship traffic in Singapore waters. I only realised how much when sailing in from the South China Sea on the Götheborg in 2006. After many nights in the open sea from Hong Kong, the ship officers had furrowed brows as we neared Singapore.

On watch from midnight to dawn, we were spotting ships in every position around us as we approached Singapore! It was certainly impressive. The two Singapore Navy officers on board were glad to lend a hand in familiar territory as we navigated to Marina Bay.

With Ship Finder (also an iPhone app), landlubbers in Singapore can identify and track ships to get a feel of the bustling marine traffic which led to Singapore’s existence. For the environment community, it is a useful tool to understand the activity in our straits, which affect the marine life which has persisted in these waters.

Bold Endurance is an interesting ship Canadian, Filipino, Ukranian and English crew and can stay out at sea for two months. In ?2004, they laid a cable between Manila and Singapore:

“On the job between Manila and Singapore, the crew laid cable out into the South China Sea from Manila to the halfway point. There they marked the location and dropped the cable end to the ocean floor. The ship then went to Singapore and laid cable out from that end. When they arrived back at the halfway point, they recovered the other end of the cable and spliced the two sections together to complete the job.”

Read more at “[Bold Endurance] From heavy lifting to deep-sea plowing,” by Alan Haig-Brown. Ocean Navigator, 19 Jan 2004.

Off you go…
Ship Finder - The Live Marine Traffic Tracking App

The Lazy Scholar Chrome Extension: leap from abstract pages to full text pdf in a jiffy

When rapidly google-searching a specific topic, I end up with an array of browser pages open to various sources. When I review the windows, I often find high page-ranked databases providing abstracts. These, however, have no links to the full PDF which I must read. I then have to copy the article title in order to conduct a Google Scholar search for the PDF in a new window.

Well, thankfully nutrition scholar Colby Vorland was tired of this too and wrote the Lazy Scholar Chrome Extension – when clicked, it checks Google Scholar for the full text!

Earliest evidence for commensal processes of cat domestication

Like any new tool, it will require a bit of practise to integrate into my work flow. But there are even more reasons to adapt. After finding a pdf, I have to insert the NUS Digital Library proxy into the URL for access to subscription-only sites, and provide a relevant name to replace the often incomprehensible pdf name in the download window. If I find myself using the journal content in lectures, I return to Google Scholar to copy the APA citation for insertion into my presentation slides.

Lazy Scholar provides a citation copied to your clipboard, automatically renames pdfs to a standard version (e.g. year-author abbreviated journal name) for download and even inserts proxy links. Researchers are singing praises but would prefer the name Efficient Scholar!

I’m inserting this tool into my digital literacy briefing for my research students. Get yours at http://www.lazyscholar.org/.

Thanks once again to NUS Science Librarian Aaron Tay who retweeted this today.

Naked Ape, Naked Boss – Kirpal on Bernard, an easy, enjoyable read of course!

Naked Ape, Naked BossI was busy with training the speakers for Evening of Biodiversity during the launch of Kirpal Singh’s book about Bernard Harrison, so one of my kakis Cynthia Lee picked up a copy for me.

She had Bernard sign it. He scrawled encouragement to look after the otters and she chuckled.

I sat down to it just now and unsurprisingly, finished it in a couple of hours. I especially liked, well all of it.

I had asked him to come for the Evening of Biodiversity but we were late in announcing this and he was already back in Bali. He would have enjoyed listening to the students speak and the small mammal studies are scientific descendants of his fathers interest.

My students are familiar with his father, Professor J. L. Harrison of the Department of Zoology at the University of Singapore as he had penned “An Introduction to Mammals of Singapore and Malaya” (1966) which they all cite. J. L. Harrison died too early at the age of 55, in 1972, possibly from scrub typhus.

Bernard Harrison’s management style was fascinating to observe, during his Singapore Zoo days and is something we wished would be more widespread. It is, however, unfortunately rare. When he left the zoo, it was for me the same feeling as when Singapore left the Malaysia Cup. Things would not would be same again.

Kirpal Singh writing about Bernard Harrison is just the sort of book to pass to my students. I encourage then to read, before they forget how and this one is easy-peasy food for thought.

What else my research student does on her field trip – Fung Tze Kwan’s Good Friday post from Pulau Ubin

Fung Tze Kwan is an MSc student with the Department of Biological Sciences working on the diet, home range and ecological role of the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) in Singapore. Right now she is visiting Pulau Ubin on weekly basis accompanied by volunteer field assistants for research work.

For an idea of what she typically does, see also “Oh Shit! YAY!” By Hazelina Yeo. That Simple., 14 Apr 2014.

Civet poop girl discovers her first ever double-pile of civet poop in Pulau Ubin!
20140418 FTK Pulau Ubin

The field assistants are exposed to more than just the research activity, as a variety of experiences crop up which we cannot script. The public are curious when they see specific action in our forests and coastlines and these interruptions are a great chance for public education and a chance to learn about their perspectives.

And that makes the student researchers better able to explain their work!

Field researchers sometimes have to provide directions and suggestions to a lost visitor, but at other times, they have to butt in to correct inappropriate behaviour. Our natural areas are not vast, thriving swathes of land. They need tender loving care, especially now when they face a much higher pressure from visitorship. Simple explanations are enough for most, but for anything more serious, they know to call NParks to take action.

Tze Kwan is quite communicative which is great for a supervisor. She penned this below from the Pulau Ubin Jetty while waiting for her bum boat ride back to Changi. It illustrates some of the natural education a student experiences during field work: invaluable!

If you want to learn more, visit the projects’ Facebook page.

“Fieldwork on a public holiday is an eye-opener. The crowd is one thing, but the other is the irresponsibility visitors display in terms of safety and respect for nature.

While giving the safety briefing to my field assistant at the front counter, I was interrupted to answer enquiries about suitable trails for kids to cycle, probably because we were with bicycles and cycling helmets.

Whilst surveying Chek Jawa, I saw a guy going off the boardwalk to pick a rock. So I walked up to him and his friends, telling them that they should not go off the boardwalk or take anything. The group looked stunned then asked, “Cannot take anything ah?” Yes, and he placed back the rock.

Halfway it started raining, and I saw a ~10 yr kid speed down a gravel steep slope, and next I heard a crash! His palm and elbow were bleeding with dirt all over the wounds but Dad said ‘never mind one la’. Still I went over and took out my First Aid Kit, only the second time I am using it.

Mum was anxious so I let her do the cleaning with saline water, gauze and bandage. Mum was grateful, saying they were so lucky. Then Mum threw the used saline tube on the ground!!!! I involuntarily “Eh!-ed” her and she said, “sorry sorry” and picked it up.

The Boy asked if I was a nurse LOL, so I told him no, but next time must brake and don’t speed down a slope like this! He nodded.

Just as I thought I could continue my fieldwork, I discovered my left brake was not working! So Hiu Fung and I spent some time figuring it out and fixing it. We did it!

And off we went!

From Chek Jawa, along Balai Quarry and towards Beberek Hut at Jalan Mamam, I was horrified to see obvious first timers on Ubin ignoring signs and speeding down the long downslope, putting themselves and other visitors in danger.

The fieldwork ended on a high note with 23 poop samples. Along the way, visitors would ask me what I was doing and that inevitably leads to Kopi Luwak and a chance for public education!

With the day’s work completed, we happily cycled back to the jetty. Then I saw a group of three jumping and trying to pull a bamboo plant. I stopped to ask what they are doing. The boys said “plucking for fun” while the girl kept looking at my research pass. I just said please respect nature and enjoy it. They looked guilty.

Now here I am, queuing to take the bumboat back to Changi Village after an eventful and happening day. Not forgetting that I met Germaine & Pearlynn and thanks to Hiu Fung for being an awesome help!”

– Fung Tze Kwan, 18 Apr 2014 (Good Friday)

FTK on Pualu Ubin  Hazelina Yeo

Thanks to Wong Hiu Fung and Hazelina Yeo for the photos.

Small Mammal team 2011-2013, reunited at the Evening of Biodiversity

Thanks to Ivan Kwan’s Storify of the Evening of Biodiversity, I revisited field assistant Gladys Chua’s 2012 blog post about following Amanda Tan into the field in 2012.

Chloe had joined the field trip as a volunteer field assistant too and Erica Sena Neves who had trained Amanda, was there to help and collect swabs for vector research.

I was delighted to see that Gladys had a photo with Amanda, Erica and Chloe in one picture. Small mammal field workers rarely have photos of their field work so this was great. And one with all three of them? Priceless!

As I scrolled through photos from the Evening of Biodiversity taken by volunteer photographer Prab Nathan, I found he had a photo of the same three in LT25. I was real happy with the result, and cam present you the Small Mammal Research Team of 2011-2013:

2012 AmandaTan wEricaNevesandChloeTan Small Mammalwork Gladys Chua

2012 AmandaTan wEricaNevesandChloeTan 175 evebiod2 16apr2014 prab

Thanks to Gladys Chua, Prab Nathan and master twitterer Ivan Kwan.