African Walking Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) being scavenged by Apple Snails (Pomacea sp.)
Kallang Riverside Park, 2nd February 2015

This photograph of a dead African Walking Catfish was shared by Leroy Alphonso. This invasive species, introduced to Singapore in the 1990s, has effectively replaced the native Common Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus) in both rural and urban freshwater ecosystems throughout Singapore.

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Yesterday afternoon I received word about a White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) carcass outside the 28th floor window of Centennial Towers at Millenia Walk.

Unfortunately, due to the inconvenient location of the bird, we had to wait till today for the building management to kindly retrieve the carcass by gondola. This meant that the Eagle was emitting a right proper pong by the time I brought it back to the lab, not helped by the fact that fish-eating birds are also naturally smelly.

Based on what I could tell, the bird had a thoroughly broken neck, which suggests that it may have died after flying into the glass window. Now this is very unusual since White-bellied Sea Eagles are very well-adapted to urban living and shouldn’t have any problems with glass windows at all. The building manager did mention, however, that another Sea Eagle was found at the same time on the roof of the building, injured and unable to fly. It might be that the two birds could have been fighting and one of them, disoriented and dazed, could’ve lost its bearings and flown directly into the window and died. The other bird is now reportedly at the zoo being treated for its injuries.

Photos courtesy of Anuj Jain. Thanks to Wong Ley Kun for informing me about the bird.

Source: David Tan Facebook

I know Andy has been observing the White-bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) at the Marina Bay Area for a long time now. I have stopped by after work occasionally to look at the majestic birds too. So has my son who said it’s so cool to see wildlife in the heart of the Singapore downtown. Today, one of these beautiful birds is no more. Victim of window-kill. RIP WBSE.

Source: Wong Ley Kun Facebook

A partially eaten tilapia discarded by the otters on the road beside the reservoir. Note that apart from the head, the rest of the body is intact. Another partially eaten fish with the same condition lies a few metres away in the background. Photograph by Tan Yee Keat

Partially eaten Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) discarded by Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Marina Reservoir near Marina Barrage, along eastern shore; 12 September 2014; around 1830 hrs.

Observation: A group of seven otters left two dead tilapias of at least 20 cm total length on a road about 5 m away from Marina Barrage. The otters had retreated to the reservoir to avoid the observers, but stayed close to the shore. Only the head and cheeks of both fish were observed to be consumed.

Remarks: This group of otters is believed to be the same family that has recently become resident in the Marina Reservoir (Ee, 2014). Their apparent readiness to part with partially eaten prey (instead of carrying these with them) seems to imply that food is abundant and easily obtainable in the habitat. The present observation
suggests that alien species (such as the Mozambique Tilapia) do benefit certain native piscivores (such as the Smooth-coated Otter) as a source of prey (Yong et al., 2014). It is not clear why only the head and cheeks of the tilapias were eaten. Perhaps due to the abundance of food, the otters can afford to be wasteful, and eat only the ‘choice’ parts of their prey.

References:

  • Ee, D.. 2014. Wild otters raise family around Marina Bay. The Sunday Times. 28 September 2014: top news, 10.
  • Yong D. L., B. W. Low, A. Ang, M. Woo & C. Ho, 2014. Multiple records of aquatic alien and invasive species in diets of native predators in Singapore. BioInvasions Records. 3 (3): 201-205.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 3-4