Alfresco Dining – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #3

January 31, 2011 at 10:30 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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After emptying my tummy on the roller coaster ride watching the whale’s tail, I needed to replenish my fuel tank badly. Earlier on, we missed our motel and saw a stall selling barbecued seafood that smelled good. It was recommended by the motel as the most economical and tasty, offering authentic Kiwi-styled barbecued fare. Even Lonely Planet recommends it. So we thought we shall give it a try.


A simple make-shift stall…


The menu…Affordable by NZ’s standard…

I ordered the Prawn Pattie. Tisu Boy wanted the Grilled Fish but was told that it was sold out. 😦 We peeped at other people’s order of the scallops and mussels and the portion looked small…more a side dish than a proper meal. Not knowing what is White Bait, Tisu Boy decided that he wanted to be “adventurous” so went ahead and ordered that after the lady said it’s a very authentic NZ food. We paid and happily took the “number pebble” to find ourselves a seat. But the makeshift tables were all occupied so we settled for another more private table further away… :p


Our “private table” complete with salt and pepper seasoning, set against
a backdrop of shore plants. We had the sound of waves as background music.
All perfect except that it was getting a bit cold now…


A laminated paper reminding diners not to feed wild pigeons as their
droppings can spread diseases. Great idea for using the reflective material
on the words for easy reading at night

Our little privacy was soon intruded by an elderly couple from England, who asked to share our table. Had a little chat and found that they were retired and would be spending about a week or so in Kaikoura before touring around other parts of NZ. Wow…I wished I had the luxury to slowly explore…We only had slightly more than a day here. When I went to the money changer back home, the old guy was a bit surprised that I asked to change New Zealand notes. He asked why was I going there and commented that no Singaporeans go there as there is “nothing to do and only the retirees will go” as it is so expensive! Was a bit offended then cos I thought it was cool to go NZ with the many choices of outdoor activities available…a bit like in OZ, except that there is definitely more places to shop in Oz. Maybe really nothing to do for people who only travels overseas just to hop from one shopping centre to another…but definitely a haven for outdoor or nature lovers! So when I heard the couple were retirees, couldn’t help but think of the money changer…Soon, our number was called out and Tisu Boy went over to collect our food with the number pebble…should have taken a picture of that.. :p

When he came back, was a bit surprised to see the dish so simple and the portion so small…Thought angmohs normally serve bigger portion…But after all the vomiting, maybe it was not a good idea to eat too full either…


My Prawn Pattie. Not too bad except too little prawn…hahah…Forgot to take
a proper pix before biting…Too hungry and cold…

And we sure forgotten to take the White Bait Pattie!! Was curious what is White Bait all about and turned out it looked and tasted like those little white fish we called Silver fish (银鱼仔), which is so easily available and sold cheaply in our supermarkets! These come either dried or chilled but both taste great with omelette. Wow! So NZ$8 for a “gan hee gia” (Ikan Billi in Hokien) with roti?? Not that it didn’t taste good but a bit expensive right?! Hahah….Found it so funny that we were speechless…haha….

Well, according to Wikipedia, white bait in New Zealand are the juvenile of fish like the inanga, which “lays its eggs during spring tides in autumn on the banks of a river amongst grasses that are flooded by the tide. The next spring tide causes the eggs to hatch into larvae which are then flushed down to the sea with the outgoing tide where they form part of the ocean’s plankton mass. After six months the developed juveniles return to rivers and move upstream to live in freshwater.” White bait are caught by open-mouthed handheld nets and is a seasonal activity. “The combination of the fishing controls, a limited season and the depletion of habitat as a result of forest felling during the era of colonisation results in limited quantities being available on the market.” It is considered a delicacy and commands high prices.

Er, maybe if we had read more about white bait before ordering, we would appreciate it more…hahah…


Tisu Girl returning the plates at the collection box. Everyone else was very
cooperative


A photo with the friendly lady boss

Also see related posts:
> A Roller Coaster Ride – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #2
> Mass Exodus – Christchurch, New Zealand Trip #1

A Roller Coaster Ride – Kaikoura, New Zealand Trip #2

January 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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A little note from Itchyfingers: Apologies to those who have been waiting and wondering what happened to the rest of our New Zealand trip posts…2010 seemed to be a busy year for Itchyfingers, and it took a bit longer to sort out the more than 40G of digital photos…Will try to catch up on the posts!

It was our first road trip holiday. 🙂 From Christchurch, Itchyfingers set off to Kaikoura after collecting the rented car. Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is New Zealand best-known ecotourism destination and one of the must-do is whale watching! It is one of the only places in the world where you can easily see Sperm Whales.

To avoid disappointment, we pre-booked our tour online in Singapore as it is very popular among visitors. By the time we reached Kaikoura and checked into the motel, it was already close to 1pm. After a bit of washing up, we drove straight to the Whaleway Station to confirm our attendance first before finding food to fill the tummies.


Heading to the station for whale watching! So exciting! If you had watched
the film “Whale Rider” you would understand its logo here…

The centre was manned mainly by the indigenous Maori people. There was a TV screen listing tour timings as well as a report for the weather. It said that the water condition was a bit choppy and gave warning to people who were seasick prone to take some precaution. Not a good piece of news cos I AM one of those who will get motion sickness… 😦 Having seen pictures of people gathering on the deck taking photos, I thought that would be okay as long as there is fresh air. But we were told that we would be asked to be seated in the air-conditioned vessel for safety reason and only to come out when there is sightings of the whale. Well, as long as I can get fresh air should be okay, I thought…

Couldn’t change our tour to an earlier time so might as well get some lunch. Unfortunately for some reason the kitchen seemed to be closed for break so no hot meal was available. We didn’t wanna take the unappetizing and costly sandwiches as we had a mid-morning snack along the way. Only bought a drink to keep hydrated.


While waiting, saw helicopters flying past us sending tourists back. It costs
about NZ$165 for a 30 minutes flight over the Kaikoura Peninsula for spotting
whales in the air…thought it was a bit costly for such short flight…


The Kaikoura Peninsular

After a short briefing at the centre, our group boarded the coach for a short 5-8 minutes ride to the jetty. Boy…the guy’s accent was so strong and we were at the further end of the queue so Itchyfingers had difficulties catching what he said! I think he mentioned something about seasickness, something about sitting at a certain spot…Not too sure…and too shy to ask him to repeat himself… :p

Well, I soon learnt that it is better to be thick-skinned sometimes…

We boarded the vessel and had to take separate seats on one of the last rows as we were at the back of the queue. Who said Angmohs are not kiasu?!?!

Just few minutes after we set off, we could already feel the choppiness of the sea! There was one part that the vessel rocked back and forth so vigorously it was a bit like sitting on roller-coasters! And I am not exaggerating! The guide on board greeted us and started a short intro, and at the same time, specially cautioned those who were prone to sea-sickness to try not to hold onto it and dun be shy to use the motion sickness bags provided instead of hiding in the toilets. Gosh…must he remind us about it? But I thought that since I didn’t come with a full stomach, and we would get to the outside, it should be okay.

But the sea seemed to be getting rougher and rougher the further we sailed out. I could feel my tummy getting a bit bloated…I tried to take deep breathes and not to think about it and to look at the distant mountain range…unfortunately, the currents were too strong to be ignored…I started burping to get rid of the gas in my tummy…

Couldn’t recall now when were we asked to go outside to see the Sperm Whale…but it was not too long, maybe within 20 to half an hour’s time. At first I was kinda relieved that finally can go out for some fresh air. But the sea condition was so bad (at least to me!) that it was kinda tough trying to balance without holding on to something. Then we saw the Sperm Whale!


Geez…only got to see a small bit of the Sperm Whale…anti-climax..The Sperm
Whale has no dorsal fin, but rather a dorsal hump, as seen here, made of
flesh and fibre that appears 2/3 down it’s back

We followed the Sperm Whale as he swam, keeping to a safety distance so as not to stress the mammal too much. From the video presentation earlier, the whale was about the same size as the catamaran we were taking!


Then we got to see more its back…


Sprouting water from its blowhole!


“The blowhole, which is on the front left of the whale’s head, creates a spout
that is blown at a forward angle of about 45° and is 3 – 5 metres high. The
first exhalation after a long dive is like an explosion and can be heard up to
1 km away.” Amazing! Yes, it was quite loud

After staring at the whale swimming in the rocky current, I felt terrible…so giddy…We were told to go back inside first so as not to stress the whale too much…just as we were slowly making our way back, I felt my tummy turning upside down inside…I knew I gonna puke…but I was stuck in between the other people so there was no way for me to rush in and get the seasick bag or to the loo…damn…I should have brought out the bag…But just as I was about to puke, a hand sticked out to me with a seasick bag! I took it immediately and filled it immediately with my acidic juice. 😦 Thank goodness for the experienced crew,whose sharp eyes observed that I was one of those with weak stomach, for handing me the very much appreciated bag!

My legs felt weak, but I was feeling more embarrassed that I was the first one to puke. More commentaries were given by the guide but I couldn’t really concentrate…still feeling very upset, both physically and emotionally.. 😦


The guide was great, giving us nuggets of facts on Sperm Whales…

After a while, we were asked to go outside again. I stood up only to feel so giddy…


Another group of whale-watchers in catamaran. I would have gotten to the
top if only I was feeling okay…it should be even rockier at the top but the
view should be better…


Why was no one else feeling seasick? I swear the water was really choppy!


It can get a bit monotonous staring at the whale swimming so carefreely
in the water… Our guides were very experienced, so they could recognise
each whale from their markings. Forgot if this one we were tailing was a
male or female liao…But this was an indicative sign of the moment that
all of us were waiting for – the Sperm Whale had just dived in with its
back now arched….


And then the moment….!


The whale lifts its flukes high out of the water as it begins a dive! Magnificient!


The sperm whale’s flukes are triangular and very thick…can see it’s toned
muscles!


Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus), the largest of the toothed whales,
grow to over 15 metres in
length and about 40 tonnes in weight. The bulls
are larger than the females


They can dive as deep as three kilometres into the ocean to feed!


It happened very fast, so if you were not fast enough, you would miss it…


Gone…

The name Sperm Whale, comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal’s head. The sperm whale’s distinctive shape comes from its very large head, which is typically one-third of the animal’s length. Of course, from our catamaran ride, we could not see the head…


But the lucky and rich folks on the chopper and plane should be able to get
a pretty clear view of the whole mammal…So envious! Was feeling a bit
regret not choosing to pay for the expensive short ride…at least I am sure
I would not be seasick… 😦

After the exciting moment, I gave the crew my second bag of warm juice… 😦 Gross…Luckily I didn’t get to eat proper meal! Otherwise I would have felt even worse and more things to expel out! We were ushered inside cos it would be a while before the whale emerged out of the water again – there was record of Sperm Whale submerging in the water for 90 minutes! More typical dives are around 400 metres and 35 minutes in duration.

The third time we went outside cos there were sightings of many seabirds…


The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans)! My lifer!


Albatross in the water! The Wandering Albatross has the largest wingspan
of any living bird – between 2.51–3.50 m (8.2–11.5 ft)


This should be the
White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata). Another lifer!

There were so much activities in the sky. I was sure there were some birds species that we missed cos they were too far and we did not bring our binos. Our vessels was shaking a fair bit so it was also tough to take decent photos. At the same time, we were also distracted by the acrobatic performance of the very adorable dolphins!


The Dusky Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)! This was the first time
I ever see wild dolphins! A group of dolphins is called a pod


Actually these highly gregarious Dusky Dolphins were a greater joy to watch
than the whale! Hahah…At one moment, they seemed to be circling and following
us…But they were so fast that I gave up taking photos or videos and chose to
just admire them. I had forgotten about my pain. I happened to watch
The Cove after my NZ trip and it was heart wrenching seeing the killing of these
intelligent mammals…

We had to bid the cute dolphins goodbye as our guide got a signal of the emerging Sperm Whale. Sperm Whales ‘click’ to communicate and by listening to these clicks using a hydrophone our skilled crew can determine where a whale or whales may be. They were careful not to approach the whale from the front so we had to make a turn. So we were again asked to go inside. I was offered a seat near the exit so that I could have more fresh air. But that did not stop me from vomitting again… 😦 It was my third bag of the trip…so embarrassing cos I was the only one getting motion sickness, even the kids were doing fine! The angmohs must be laughing at this stupid useless asian girl…sob…I just wished the tour would end soon…

I deposited my fourth bag of acid juice in the bin after going out again to see the emerged Sperm Whale…or rather it’s dorsal hump…Gosh…

It was towards the end of our tour. It would be our last chance to see the flipping of the tail before the giant mammal disappeared in the water again. So with cameras ready, all of us stared at the whale, hoping to capture the action once again. It was getting so cold, and I only had two thin layers under my fleece jacket. But the whale just continued swimming and spurting water from its blowhole occasionally. Shivering from the strong and cold sea breeze, with jellied-like unstable feet, I felt a contraction again from my stomach….This time, I had my vomit bag with me…Fishing it out quickly from my pocket, the acid came voluntarily out the moment I opened my mouth! How could I possibly find so much juice to puke?!? Tears of pain flowed out as I puked…Good thing, nobody paid much attention to me now that they were all concentrating on the potential action in the sea. It was awkward as I was sandwiched in the middle so I couldn’t move anywhere to throw the bag away. It would spill if left on the floor. Definitely not nice to throw into the sea! So I just sealed the bag and held it in my left hand and at the same time holding onto the railing, while holding the compact camera in my right hand – I was in no condition to shoot with the SLR anymore since the second time I vomited.

As I stood freeze in that awkward position, the Sperm Whale finally decided to do his trick. The experienced guide was able to tell when it was gonna dive and flip, so we were given ample time to get ready again. So, it was in my awkward position with left hand holding to my vomit bag, right hand operating the unsteady camera on a rocky vessel that I got this very precious clip of the day….I wished Tisu Boy had taken a photo of me “in action”.. Haha.. :p


But he was too busy taking photos…


Beautiful! And off he goes!

With this we ended our almost three hours of whale watching. It was great to be able to see the Sperm Whale so relatively close, better if I could enjoy the whole trip without leaving them bags of “presents”..haha.. Before I went to New Zealand I had always thought that whale watching is an expensive activity reserved for rich people. Well, we paid NZ145 per person for the 2.5 to 3 hour catamaran ride, not exactly cheap but definitely cheaper than the half hour helicopter flight. But I think if I knew I would suffer such bad seasickness, I would rather pay the extra NZ$20 for the shorter flight instead of suffering so much…hahah…afterall, being on a chopper is an experience itself…damn…hahah…

Also see related post:
> Mass Exodus – Christchurch, New Zealand Trip #1

A Bundle of Joy

January 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | 2 Comments
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Saturday was indeed a very happy day for Itchyfingers! It was better than striking the lottery….not that I bought any before…hahaaa! For the past one and a half month I was so worried and stressed but now I felt so relieved!

So why am I so happy? Because my turtle, Girl Girl finally laid her eggs! 😀

It was not the first time she had eggs, but the previous times she had no problem laying them…often dropping either one of two in the water…There was once she even produced 13 eggs in a clutch over a few days! I know it is not natural for them to lay eggs in the water, but gravid female turtles are very fussy and particular about the nesting site, even more so for captive ones. There were times I provided sand for her and she simply refused to use them, and struggled out of it. I was so desperate to help her that I even tried shredding pieces of paper and polyester fiber stuffings for teddy bear, only to have my good intention be completed rejected by her! So all these while, she ended up laying her eggs in the water, often at night, so we would wake up finding an egg in the water. Sometimes she would also lay during the day, but she would never do it in her human’s presence. Shy maybe… :p Tisu Boy said maybe it’s animal instinct to want to protect her eggs from harm? Er, but I am her sister leh… :p

So this time round when she had her eggs, I was expecting her to deposit them one by one in the water again. But…I was so wrong…

Early last December, I noticed Girl Girl started to make some noise that sounds like a hiccup. Initially I had dismissed it as maybe she was really having bouts of hiccups like I sometimes do but it just didn’t go away after a few days. Having lost another of my baby Mei Mei nearly three years back due to respiratory infection, I didn’t want to take any chance this time…though her sympton looked completely different. 😦 So I rushed Girl Girl to the nearest animal clinic. Didn’t really get a satisfied diagnosis despite showing a video clip of Girl Girl making the noise…probably the vet was not so experienced with turtles, as it was the first time he heard about that. But he said turtles do not have diaphragm, so they cannot hiccup. He said it sounded more like a cough, which might be caused by a respiratory infection.


Girl Girl making the strange noise that sounds like hiccups or a little frog’s croak…


I am quite sure that was not a yawn towards the end of this clip. Before they yawn,
they would normally lower their head and arch up the neck before opening the mouth
to do a yawn – something that I always observed but can never catch on video in time

As it is near impossible to make turtles take oral medication, injection is the best way to administer drugs on them. I would have to do the injection of 10 doses of antibiotics on alternative days on my own, otherwise I would have to bring Girl Girl over to the clinic each time for the jab. My goodness! So under the vet’s supervision, I had to learn how to do the injection on the hindleg…a painful experience for both me and my baby… 😦 She was supposed to get better after two or three jabs and be cleared after a week or so…

As I couldn’t bring myself to do the injection again, I asked Tisu Boy to help out…But five days and two injections later, Girl Girl didn’t seemed to be getting better…So to be on the safe side, we decided to get a second opinion from another vet whom she had seen some years back for an abrasion problem. On a pet discussion forum, Dr Frederick Chua from Allpets & Aqualife Clinic was recommended by some.

Unfortunately, Dr Chua also has never encounter case of turtle making such strange sound..but he dismissed it as coughs – possibly Girl Girl trying to force some air from the body. But he agreed on the prescription of the antibiotics, Baytril, which most turtles respond well for respiratory problem, though he would normally recommend only five doses on consecutive days. It was a relief for me as it meant less pain for her too. While checking Girl Girl for overall well-being, he said she was having eggs after palpating the region of the body cavity above her hindlegs. That was the first time I learnt how to feel for eggs! At that moment, I assumed Girl Girl would lay them in the water again so was not too concerned over it…I would rather solve the respiratory problem first…as it is one of the top killer in turtles. 😦

While the frequency of Girl Girl making the strange sound seemed to reduce (though not completely gone) over the next few days, it was apparent now that she was indeed carrying eggs. In the water, she behaved agitated and wanted to get out. When I brought her out for walk about in the house, she started digging the floor with her hindlegs – a confirmed sign that she was trying to look for nesting site. So I thought I was gonna expect some eggs to be deposited in the water very soon…

But it did not happen. After two weeks I was starting to get worried. On the third week, I started to panic as I knew something was not very right and I had to do something to help. Egg binding in turtles is not good and it CAN KILL – “retained eggs become increasingly calcified the longer they are held. The eggshell, which is normally flexible in many (but not all) aquatic turtles, will become brittle and may fracture internally; causing egg-yolk peritonitis, a very serious condition that can quickly prove fatal if not treated in the earliest stages.”

Unfortunately, Dr Chua had a slipped disc problem and was on medical leave. Taking over was Dr Winnie Teo instead. She looked young so that didn’t give me much confidence initially. And she could not tell if Girl Girl had eggs by feeling for them in the cavity behind the legs. The best way to confirm was to do an X-ray, but the clinic does not have the facility. So we were referred to another clinic to do it.

As appointments were already full, we had to wait two more days before sending Girl Girl to do the X-ray. Turned out she had six eggs…


Can you see the six eggs? I saw x-ray photo of another species of a bigger
aquatic turtle having more than 19 eggs! Girl Girl looks cute even on x-ray! :p

The next morning back at Allpets, Dr Teo explained that normal eggs should look more whitish on the X-ray film. Girl Girl’s eggs showed that the shells were thin, a sign that she lacked calcium in her diet. So she gave her a dose of Calcium Gluconate to compensate for the lack of it and Oxytocin, a homone which helps to induce contraction in the uterus to allow the eggs to pass out. Oxytocin is also used in cats and dogs, and even humans, so it is a very safe drug with no side effects. We were given a second dose of oxytocin in case she still couldn’t lay the eggs after one day.

So I waited and waited…the four hour window passed. Called the vet and was asked to wait for a day before giving the second dose if still no laying of eggs. One more day passed. Still no sign of any eggs though she seemed to be getting more agitated but could still eat quite a bit. I had bought her some 10 kg of river sand for her to try to pass her eggs, gave lukewarm water and put her under the sun to warm herself…but nothing happened. I was so stressed…


Girl Girl trying to get out of the nesting box. It would be more ideal to provide
a nesting area with her water for her to choose when to go up to the sand,
but with space constraint, that was not possible… 😦 So I tried to accustom
her to the nesting box frequently so that she would not be traumatised
with the change of environment…

The third day I called the clinic. After discussing with Dr Chua, Dr Teo suggested getting more doses of the Calcium Gluconate and vitamin mixture to inject her. It was possible that Girl Girl had been lacking calcium in her diet so we got to try build up the calcium first and hope that it would help. Actually that was what I read on the internet – “to induce a reluctant turtle to lay her eggs with oxytocin, usually preceded by a few days of injectable calcium gluconate.”

The next one and a half week must be a traumatic experience for Girl Girl. Not only she had to be injected daily with Baytril to clear her remaining respiratory problem, she had to be given the higher dosage of calcium and vitamin jab every three days also. It was really painful to see her suffer…but good thing Tisu Boy started to get better with the injection so that reduced the time taken and hence lessened the pain.


Imagine having to poke those sharp needles into these beautiful and sexy
butt cheeks…so poor thing!

On Friday 21 Jan, we were left with the last calcium jab. Was getting so worried that we might have no choice but to perform surgery on Girl Girl to take out the eggs…not a preferred method as it is dangerous and not as straight forward as in the case of dogs and cats as the shell would have to be cut opened! Sounds scary and I wouldn’t want my Girl to go through that!

Warning: This is a very graphic clip of open surgery on an egg bound turtle.. 😦
I couldn’t bring myself to look at this video without taking off my glasses…too much pain for me…I feel for this poor female turtle… poor thing…  😦 I don’t want to see this again….

On Saturday 22 Jan, I was really hoping for the best cos if Girl Girl still cannot lay her eggs, we may have to start the whole routine of injecting four doses of Calcium Gluconate again and then Oxytocin. So, with all itchy fingers crossed, we gave her the last dose of Calcium + vitamin jab before injecting her with 0.3ml of Oxytocin half an hour later. The next one hour was a very crucial time – if within this one hour she still cannot lay her eggs, we would have to give her a second dose of 0.2ml Oxytocin. To give her some privacy, we left her undisturbed in the sand to do our own things. But my mind was very uneasy, I was very worried that she would still refuse to lay her eggs..


The second dose..

I took occasional peeps at her but only to be disappointed. One long hour passed. We resigned ourselves and were ready to give her the second dose of Oxytocin. But the moment we went to her nesting box, we saw some white stuff from her tail…Girl Girl was finally laying egg!!!!!!! And the best thing was we saw her laying it!!! It was the first time she laid eggs in front of her humans! We must had caught her off guard in the act!!!! Hahahah!!!!!! I was so happy I screamed like a mad person and rushed to get my camera ready to shoot some turtle laying eggs video. But when I returned she didn’t lay any more eggs, although the tail was still wriggling. Aiya! Missed the action! But nevermind lah! At least now that she had laid the first egg, there should be lesser problems laying the rest. So we just have to wait. I called the clinic to check with them and Dr Teo advised to hold on to the second dose and see if she would lay the rest.


The first egg. How did it get out from the relatively small tail? 😀

We left her alone again so as not to stress her…maybe my mad woman screaming startled her a bit so she was wary of laying the rest…Couldn’t help it leh! Was so relieved!


Girl Girl crawling around the nesting box. I was worried that she might
crash her eggs…thought she would lay them deeper in the sand…


The next moment I peeped at her, there were two beautiful eggs! So did
she kick the first egg over?

I decided to really leave her alone and went off to buy lunch, now that I could really eat with peace of mind. 🙂 When I came back to check on her, I was over the moon!!!!!


1, 2, 3, 4, 5!!!!! I counted five eggs until Girl Girl moved a bit to show the 6th
eggs!!!!! She had finally laid all six eggs!!!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!

It must be the happiest moment for me for the past one and a half month!!! I praised her and took her out of the nesting box for cleaning. Girl Girl is such a brave girl to endure all the injections!


So the first egg was still at very much the same position. Those at the right
must be the second and third pieces.. 🙂


Can see the golden yellow yolk inside…The eggs are about 4.5cm long and
thicker than my itchy fingers… 🙂 These are all unfertilised eggs which
will not hatch. They are very soft as the shells are very thin. I had always
thought that is normal…now I know it is because there is deficiency in
calcium


The eggs after two days

I have always feel bad about not being able to provide my babies with bigger tanks for housing due to limited space. But the food I give varies from commercial turtle pellets to small Silverfish (also called White Bait), veggies, fruits and eggs. So when the vet said Girl Girl still lacks calcium, I felt really guilty that I didn’t do enough. A better quality turtle pellet was recommended. I think like humans, it takes time to build up calcium in your body whereas draining them is much faster. The fact that Girl Girl was able to lay her eggs previous times and not this time may indicate that her calcium content is getting lower as she gets older – Girl Girl is 16 years old, still pretty young for turtles but if her diet does not improve, more problems in laying eggs will come later. Turtles in captivity are able to live as long as 35 years, which means that they are a truly a life-time commitment. But I often see people, especially parents buying baby turtles from pet shops for their kids when they see how cute they are. All my turtles were bought by my sister and parents but now only my mum and I are looking after them. What people failed to realise is that these beautiful and cute baby Red Eared Sliders grow very fast in their early years and that they will mess up the tank with droppings very often. Many ended up being abandoned by these owners when the novelty is gone. Most people will say that they are releasing them back to nature, or 放生 – giving a new lease of life, which they believe is an act of kindness. But Red Eared Sliders are from the United States and not native to Singapore. Releasing them into our waters means competition for food and spaces with our native species of turtles as they are more aggressive. Hence they are often unfairly referred to as alien or invasive species. But it is a just natural instinct to survive so we cannot really blame these non-native species. We only have ourselves to blame for being irresponsible pet owners.


A poster at MacRitchie Reservoir advises against the act of releasing
animals or unwanted pets into our parks and reserves. Many do not survive
well as they cannot fend and find food for themselves. There was this very
terrible and sad case of a female Red Eared Slider being crashed into bloodied
pieces on the road by caseless driver, thanks to its irresponsible owner.
Itchyfingers was so traumatised that I cannot bring myself to attach it here.
Do take a look at ACRES‘s facebook page here

Having said that, one cannot deny that these beautiful turtles do make very good companion if you can commit yourself to take good care of them. They may not be as cuddly as the furry dogs and cats but they do respond to your call. They do not seek as much attention as cats and dogs and do not fall sick easily provided you give them proper and clean housing together with a balanced diet. This is very important as they normally do not make any sound if they were sick and vets that can attend to turtles are fewer than those who see cats and dogs. It is also more difficult to treat a turtle because all the vital organs are hidden within the shell. The saddest thing is, most turtle owners may not even bother to bring them to the vet…afterall they are sold so cheaply in pet shops and it may not justify paying hundreds of dollars treating them. But a life is a life, how can we put a price to it?

Lastly, I would like to thank all the staff at Allpets and Aqualife clinic, Dr Frederick Chua and Dr Winnie Teo, especially Dr Teo, who always responded and returned my numerous frantic calls promptly and answered my various questions patiently.


Girl Girl says, “Thank you for helping me! I feel better now.” 🙂

Also see related posts:
> New Lease of Life?
> Alien vs Natives
> Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2
> Respect for Life Begins with Concern for Animals
> Slow But Steady – World Turtle Day
> In Loving Memories of Mei Mei (28 Mar 1993 – 4 May 2008)

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