Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The East gets a taste of Fairlynch

Fairlynch Museum prides itself on growing global links. Our Local History Group regularly receives enquiries from people on the other side of the world asking if we can provide information about their Devon ancestors.


Singapore city skyline at dusk   Image credit: Chensiyuan

We've just had an email from the USA offering us original Budleigh lace work and tools.

And my research into the life and work of Henry John Carter for the forthcoming Sea, Salt and Sponges exhibition has led me to contact people in places ranging from the Netherlands to Japan, from India to California.

After all, HJC as I'll call Budleigh's most distinguished scientist did spend over 20 years of his life exploring the deserts and coasts of Arabia before settling in India where he made a name for himself as a geologist and highly respected microscopist. And then, back in quiet little old Budleigh, was sent sponges from all over the world for the next twenty years by institutions like London's Natural History Museum and Liverpool Museum to examine and classify, such was his internationally renowned expertise as a spongiologist.


So a contact with Singapore shouldn't have surprised me, given that one of the many  sponges named after HJC includes the Coelocarteria singaporensis otherwise known as  the Daisy Sponge, considered among the most commonly seen sponges in Singapore.
Image credit: Gary C. Williams, California Academy of Sciences


Wildlife enthusisast Ria Tan on the tiny islet Pulau Sekudu also known as Frog Island, with the wetlands of Chek Jawa in the background
What did surprise was Singapore's stature as a wildlife haven. I'd seen this dynamic city state described as the world's fourth leading financial centre and the second-biggest casino gambling market with the highest percentage of millionaires on the planet.  But a simple emailed request for permission to reproduce a photo of the above sponge led me to discover the amazing websites of Singapore nature enthusiast and very talented photographer Ria Tan at http://wildshores.blogspot.co.uk/   and http://www.wildsingapore.com/riablog/people/ria.htm

Ria reveals another side of Singapore, with people passionate about its natural heritage and wild places.  I thought I was busy in retirement, but what I'm doing for Budleigh is nothing compared with the mission that Ria has undertaken.


Pseudoceratina purpurea (Carter, 1880) also known as Yellow prickly branching Sponge, with very pregnant seahorse
Image credit: Ria Tan www.wildsingapore
Originally enthused by her experience as a volunteer guide at the wetland reserve of Sungei Buloh https://www.sbwr.org.sg/  she then, as she writes, fell under the spell of the 100-hectare wetlands of Chek Jawa with their unique and rich ecosystems first discovered in the early 2000s. She soon got involved in other wildlife reserves in Singapore, finding it immensely rewarding to share her excitement with others.

 "The joy of introducing a child or child-at-heart to our wild places," is a special experience, she says.  "To see in their eyes, the fascination and realisation of how nature can make us whole again." Her favourite way is to share the experience personally during a guided walk. Another way is through photographs, which capture what she describes as the wondrous qualities of Singapore's flora and fauna.

Henry Carter would be delighted to find that his work is being remembered in Singapore thanks to enthusiasists like Ria Tan at http://wildshores.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/singapore-sponges-and-henry-carter.html#.UP_fbYbFl6I  


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