Senin, 24 Maret 2008

Spiny Delicacy

i went for an afternoon walk at sandy beach of Nusa Dua. the air was dry and it smelt like salt. i saw many a little pool in where fishes, kelps, and small crabs trapped. and i saw old ladies gathering something. I approached one of them.

next to her on the yellow sand were ball-like sea creatures cut to half. i asked her, what it was. she said a strange name i couldn't remember. she would take one, cut it into half with blunt knife, and take whitish "meat" into plastic bottle.

she threw the halved balls into a shallow pool. the halves would wriggle and move their spines for some minutes. i thought they could regenerate or grow its lost "limb". but that never happened.

what for?

dinner, she said.


she said, she needed about 100 spiny balls (the creatures belong to Echinodermata, the same family in which bulu babi is) to fill half of 600 ml plastic bottle.

that's a lot, i said. how does it taste?

like fish. only with stronger smell.

how do you prepare it?

it tastes best when mixed with grated coconut and chilli, she said.

(curious, eh?)


Minggu, 02 Maret 2008

The Tree I Respect

two month old seedlings awaiting to be transfered to saline environment

Mangroves (bakau) were trees I hated. They're ugly and leggy with spidery roots and dense foliage.

My encounters with them had been unpleasant, especially at Pulau Untung Jawa, where I "met" snakes, frogs and other slimy creatures, not to mention mosquitoes. If I were equipped with insect repellent or antisnake suit (if there were any), i would have had big time experience enjoying the environment because I also saw many interesting carps (mujahir, i'll talk about later), candy colored crabs, fiddle crabs, monitors, big spiders, cats (abandoned ones), hermit crabs. if only the snake did not cross my path, i would have continued my exploration at mangrove forest on the left wing of the island.

young mangroves prefer calm waters like that of Pulau Pramuka

Despite the facts, my fascination with them continues. I admire the mangroves at swamps near Soekarno Hatta Airport. They're tall, wide, and almost solitary (most mangroves live in colonies). I read that people chopped them down to make fish ponds or tambak. Sad, eh. Those tambaks are mostly illegal.

Mangroves at Pulau Rambut were also interesting because seabirds perch and nest there. but to my surprise, the conservation island only host few mangroves and the coastal area has been heavily transgressed by the seawater. the govt apparently is trying to recover it by planting mangrove seedlings on cement pots.

I guess, many people still don't know the benefit and what we owe this salt tolerant trees. They're home for hundreds kinds of birds and reptiles (bird watching around mangrove shrubs is interesting), and nesting ground of various fish and crustaceans. they play big role in stabilizing shorelines and most importantly, they break wave and storm. Since it took years for them to mature, chopping them down is a big crime.

once 2 ha Pulau Semak Daun is now shrinking, due to heavy abrasion now the govt is trying
to rescue the island by planting mangrove seedlings around the uninhabited island

I hope the govt make serious and real action to protect this valuable trees and coastal areas in this archipelago.

By the way, real mangroves come from genus Rhizophora and Avicennia. Several coastal plants in Indonesia are also called by the name especially with genus Sonneratia, except that they are of myrtle family.

(photos: Sem)