We can learn a lot from spiders.
For example: how to escape gravity. That is not to say we are all trapeze artists, capable of dancing through the air on silken cords. But rather to understand how to balance on a knife’s edge, to find a home and comfort millimeters from falling. How to resist the pull and instead keep one’s self aloft by the sheer sticky strength of will.
The value of patience, of waiting for hours on end in soft blanketed silence, statuesque, rooting yourself in the atmosphere, of becoming one with the sky. Perhaps then you learn to feel yourself as mere atoms, watch your fingertips become carbon, oxygen, hydrogen. Perhaps after a while you become a mere collage of electrons bound by surface tension, ready to evaporate at the slightest touch.
Depending less on one’s eyes, too. Understanding the world through touch and vibration. Knowing how we move. What a gift it would be to be fully conscious of every step through the world, of every brush with life.
Also, interconnectedness. Each strand of the house is built on the other is built on the other but is not codependent. They can exist half-formed and broken; they can form whole. It is circular. It all comes back to itself.
A spiderweb glistens with raindrops in the early morning in Bangalore.
So, the other day I got an email. (See if you can tell where this is heading.) From Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Most wildlife photographers have heard of this competition – organised by the Natural History Museum of London (only one of my favorite museums ever – dinosaurs, anyone?) and BBC Wildlife, it’s considered the Oscars of wildlife photography. They’re halfway through judging this year’s entrants now… aaaand three of my photographs got selected for the Final Round! (Yes, that deserves to be capitalized. It’s that important.)
I submitted at literally the last minute, realizing submissions were open a day before they closed. I had almost forgotten about it, to be honest, so this was really, really surprising.
Without further ado, here my three shortlisted images – some of which you may recognize from this blog, some of which you may have seen on Saving MacRitchie.
Read more about my spotting of this spider on this post from Saving MacRitchie.
Not seen this image before? Well – wait till next Monday, when I post on Saving MacRitchie, and you will have. Hop on over then to read about the fascinating and aptly named robber fly.
You will have seen this before, in my post on my visit to the Dairy Farm Nature Reserve here. But the lizard’s red eyes haven’t stopped holding me thrall.
I’m so, so happy my photographs made it this far in the judging process – even if they don’t go any further, the honor at being considered amongst the number of fantastic photographers out there is just – woah. Thank you all for sticking with me all this way. I’ve enjoyed – and will continue enjoying – every minute.
Spiders, for the large majority of the population, are right up there with snakes, rats, and other miscellaneous bugs; common reactions include the ever-popular scream, or, for creative ones, adding in get it away from me!, and, of course, eww. But the fact is that spiders are are amongst some of the most beautiful and diverse invertebrates. Some of my earliest experiences with them were in our school rainforest, where Golden Orb spiders built their webs smack-dab across the trail. This necessitated ‘spider-checks’ before every class – i.e., walking through the forest and figuring out where the webs were that day. On one memorable occasion, we spotted a huge one eating a gecko.
The spider I present above, spotted a few months ago at Sungei Buloh, was considerably smaller, though obviously an orb spider due to – you guessed it! – its web’s orb-like shape. Other than that, however, I am pleased to admit I haven’t the least clue about it. The world of arachnids is something I’ve always skirted around the edges of (though not, I hope, for reasons of fear) and I look forward to venturing further in.
Note: I will not be posting on this blog for the next week, as I will be… well, once I return, all shall be revealed. 🙂 Let’s just keep it at I am very, very excited.
I still haven’t identified this spider, spotted at Pasir Ris Boardwalk on a walk there with the Naked Hermit Crabs last weekend.
(Admittedly, I know zilch about arachnids.)
So, once again, I’m going to talk about something that’s not really related to this cute critter at all: namely, Singapore’s endemic animals. For such a tiny island, we do have some animals that are only found here, and that’s actually not surprising given Singapore’s location in the Sundaland biodiversity hotspot. These include a few plants (most of which have gone extinct– surprise, surprise), a dance fly, a creeping water bug, an endemic subspecies of Banded Leaf Monkey, Lesser Mouse Deer, Plantain Squirrel, and a Cream-colored Giant Squirrel to call our own– oh, wait, that’s most likely extinct as well. Sorry!
And spiders. Lots and lots of spiders. But as a whole, so much of Singapore’s endemic wildlife is confined to our mangroves. Given that from almost the entire coast of the island covered in mangrove all original mangrove left (sorry, Paisr Ris!) is the tiny section at Sungei Buloh, that’s pretty astounding. The number of species entirely new to science discovered there is jaw-dropping. Glass gobies, our endemic almost-transparent now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t fish, a bizarre mangrove dwelling sea slug, the Mangrove St Andrew’s Cross Spider, the Mangrove Big-jawed Spider– those are only a few.
While this spider may not be endemic, or even moderately rare, it serves as a reminder of Singapore’s diversity, even in the harshest of conditions.