9th August 1998
I love to stand beside the river,
Shshsh, Shshsh, the river says,
By Azmiya Razik,
He waits at the doorstep
Our Motherland is a beautiful little island in the Indian Ocean. It is blessed with long clear golden beaches and fascinating coral reefs.
The Southern coast of Sri Lanka is especially famous for its coral reefs. Hikkaduwa is an example. In these coral reefs there are many coloured corals and thousands of different creatures and brightly coloured fish.
Coral reefs are not only a beauty spot for tourists. But they also do a greater service to the island. They protect the beaches and coast land from pounding waves and stop the sea erosion. The corals have become an immense wealth for shore dwellers. At the same time, these shore dwellers and some tourists have turned to be the enemies of coral reefs.
These people break corals without any feeling of the service they render and the beauty they create. They make lime and cement from corals. Some break them to take home or to sell. But the main threat is, that the beach is being polluted by people. Chemicals and wastage are being thrown into the sea. As a result of this the corals change colour and they die.
Preserving coral reefs has become a great necessity. Therefore strict rules must be laid down and the offenders must be punished. At the same time secure liveliyhood must be provided for the shore dwellers who make a living from corals. If not coral reefs which are really a national heritage cannot be secured and preserved.
Sent by Chathuri Thejani,
All about Elephants
By Uncle D.C.R
From Raja, the Maligawa Tusker we move on to other elephants.
Elephants have been featured in our stamps ever since the first set of pictorial stamps was issued between 1st may 1935 and 1st Januray 1936. That was the time Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was ruled by the British and King George V was the British monarch. A herd of wild elephants was featured in the 50 cent stamp. When George VI ascended the throne, the same set of stamps continued with the inset of the king being changed. The elephants stamp was re-issued with King George VI's head on 25th April 1938.
When a 10 cent stamp was issued on 10th April 1954 to mark the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ceylon, elephants were featured in the Royal Perahera, which was the theme of the stamp. There was an inset of the queen too.
Elephants were featured in a set of four stamps released on 5th August 1984. It was something special for the stamp collector since all four stamps were in denomination of Rs. 5.
The pictures were, however, different. A tusker, mother & baby, a she elephant and a family of three were seen in the four stamps.
The words 'Elephas maximus Ceylonesis' identifying the 'Ceylonese elephant' and the World Wildlife Fund logo were also featured.
The bulletin issued in connection with the release of these stamps contained some interesting information on elephants.
Describing the elephant as the pivot of Sri Lanka's wildlife and a vital part of its heritage, the bulletin described the features of the elephant. Our largest land mammal averages about 8 feet in height and four to five tons in weight. Some male elephants grow tusks.
Elephants have been captured, domesticated and trained from ancient times and used for war, work and festivals. The elephant is an intelligent animal and can be taught to perform and entertain. (A visit to the Dehiwala zoo shows us how well they can be trained to perform). The elephant ranged throughout Sri Lanka in the past but has been pushed into the dry zone due to development activities. It is now found largely in protected areas.
Elephants need 250-300 kgs. of foliage and grass every day and plentiful supplies of water for drinking and bathing.
It is estimated that the carrying capacity of our jungles average one elephant per one square metre.
The female gives birth once in four years and the baby weighs 100 kgs. The animal is full grown when seven to eight years old.
In a pond looking
And along with
Faithful green lotus leaf
Oh! violin player,
Nisha Dassanayake (Teddy)
Crabs, hermit crabs, lobsters, crayfish, squat lobsters, mud shrimps and prawns, all belong to one major group of the Crustacea - the Decapoda.
Heavy-shelled crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and their relatives are poor swimmers, and the majority of them spend their lives crawling along the sea bed. Most species of crabs live in the sea, a few in fresh water, and some even come ashore occasionally. Robber or coconut crabs, for example, have been known to climb cliffs and trees.
Hermit crabs live inside empty mollusc shells for protection. When danger threatens, they scuttle back inside the shell. Some crabs are safe because they can run quickly enough to escape predators. An example is the ghost or racing crab found on tropical and sub-tropical sandy beaches. The fiddler crabs of muddy and sandy beaches make burrows in which they can take refuge. The male fiddler crab has a large and often brightly coloured claw. This is used for signalling to females or to other males when he is laying claim to his territory .
Another burrowing crab, the soldier crab, settles itself inside an air-tight chamber in the sand during high tide. When the tide goes out, the crab digs itself free again .
Shrimps and prawns
Krill shrimps, or euphausids, also belong to the same group of Crustacea as crabs. Many species of krill shrimps live in the open sea and swim continuously. Some occur in enormous swarms. They form almost the entire diet of whalebone whales that feed off the dense upper layers of krill in the plankton .
Many species of prawns and spiny lobsters are fished for food. Two of the most popular varieties are the giant tiger prawn of the Indo-Pacific region and the Cape crayfish of south African waters. A number of crab species are also fished; the European edible crab and the American blue crab form an important part of many local fisheries.
In contrast to the fixed barnacles many of the oarfooted crustaceans (copepods) are active swimmers. They use their well developed legs to propel themselves through the water in a series of jerks. A copepod will not sink if it stops swimming for a moment, because it can move its antennae to stay afloat.
Many species of copepods live in the upper regions of the sea where they form the main component of the zoo plankton (floating animal organisms). When large numbers of copepods group together, they provide an important food item for many fish. Sometimes, there are so many copepods crowded together that they colour the water.
A number of copepods inhabit freshwater ponds or lakes. Other species are parasites. They live for at least a part of their lives on fish and aquatic mammals. The body shapes of some of these parasitic forms have become so drastically altered that they hardly resemble crustaceans at all.
Barnacles and copepods are quite familiar crustaceans, but there are many less familiar ones. There are smaller forms like the marine brine shrimps, or branchiopods, that live in land-locked salt water lagoons. There are also the tadpole and clam shrimps that are commonly found in salty and brackish water pools.
The brine shrimps have flattened leaf-like limbs, used for swimming and breathing. They feed upon small green algae. Often brine shrimps occur in such vast numbers all in one spot that they turn the water red. Their eggs can withstand long periods of being dry but only hatch when replaced in strong brine. The minute larvae of one species are used by aquarists for feeding the fry of tropical fish.
The small bean shrimps, or ostracods, are common inhabitants of ponds and lakes. Less well known are the large number of marine species that occur in rock pools on the shore. They are found at depths of over 2,000 metres. The limbs and other organs of an ostracod are enclosed within a hinged shell. At first sight, this makes them look like the small bivalve molluscs.
Some marine ostracods secrete a phosphorescent substance. This appears as a bright, shining cloud in the water. Other species are able to build tubular houses by sticking together grains of sand. Like many other small crustaceans, female ostracods can produce several generations of offspring without the aid of males. The males of some species have never been found. The females of one group of crustaceans carry their eggs in a brood pouch between their legs. The group includes the garden woodlice, beach hoppers and skeleton shrimps.
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