Friday, May 21, 2010

Paya Indah Wetlands (1) - Sacred lotus

I visited the Paya Indah Wetlands yesterday morning. It wasn't what I planned initially. My original plan was to visit the wetlands garden in Putrajaya. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my way around. The signs weren't helpful. And I ended up visiting the Paya Indah Wetlands instead.

The park, covering about 3100 hectares, is situated near the township of Dengkil, about 50km from Kuala Lumpur. The park has about 213 species of birds, hence a good birdwatching spot. The officer at the reception told me that the park used to be run by a private company until the Department of Wildlife and National Parks took over. She told me that besides the pelicans, crocodiles, hippopotamus, porcupines, etc, the blooming sacred lotus plants in the lakes are one big attraction to photographers.

The sign says "Teratai Lake", meaning "Sacred Lotus Lake".
On the sign are a Malay paragraph and its English translation:
"While growing from mud, it is unstained - Zhou Dunyi."
"Lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers just as we warm blooded humans do. Maybe to heat up its dear friends the coldblooded insect pollinators."

Well, the sacred lotus is such an unusual plant in that it can regulate the temperature of its flowers. During blooming, the average temperature of the receptacle has been demonstrated to stay between 30 and 36 degree Celsius (a difference of six degrees) even when the ambient temperature has risen from 10 to 45 degree Celsius (a difference of 35 degrees)! And this amazing thermoregulatory ability is attributable to the function of a protein called alternative oxidase in the sacred lotus flowers, which is also a protein which I studied in my PhD research.

The yellow, conical or funnel-shaped thingy on the right is the receptacle, where the thermoregulating process takes place.

I checked out a few lakes in the park and it seems that they all have some sacred lotus plants growing in them.

By the way, there were lots of dragonflies near the lakes. I haven't seen so many dragonflies for a long time.

1 comment:

Weng Chun said...

Hi. Paya Indah Wetlands (formerly known as Paya Indah Wetland Sanctuary) was managed by Malaysian Wetlands Foundation in the initial stage. The 2nd and 3rd last photos which show the same dragonfly species belongs to a Yellow-barred Flutterer.