Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lush seagrass meadow of Cyrene Reef

Last Friday afternoon, a bunch of friendly and enthusiastic Team Seagrassers took a big boat out to the sea.

Where were we heading to? Is it Pulau Bukom at the background? Can't be right? We can't possibly be heading there to monitor seagrass and there is no island between the boat and Bukom.

And magically, Cyrene Reef, a patch reef "emerged" as we came nearer to it. Cyrene Reef is one of the sites Team Seagrass monitors and I have missed all the previous opportunities to visit this fantastic and amazing reef judging from all the wonderful accounts from their previous visits. I thought this time I would have to give it a miss, but thank God, the plant physiology lab session was postponed.

Cyrene reef is surrounded by Jurong Island, Pulau Bukom and the container cargoes of West Coast Terminal. Yet life thrives at this reef. This patch reef is only visible at very low tides and there has been even news of boat in the past that rammed up Cyrene since it is in the middle of the busy shipping lane of Singapore.

Thanks to Shufen, we got this small boat that transports us from the big one to the landing site of Cyrene Reef. So we no need to swim!

And when the last group reached Cyrene, the first group has already in no time travelled far towards their further monitoring site.

Cyrene Reef, I must confess, has the best seagrass meadow and community. If you don't believe, look at the photos below.

Firstly, doing monitoring is not an easy task as there are a whopping eight species of seagrasses in Cyrene! Thus, every good care is taken to ensure that we identified the correct species for recording and measurements. Thank God Siti is partnering me and she's definitely the best person to do ID since she's the head. Haha.

Cyrene is where I see the most life among the seagrasses. This is a flowery soft coral that looks like cauliflower.

And amazingly, Cyrene Reef is also where I saw the most number of knobbly seastars. These guys are juvenile and look really cute.

And we saw many more, each of the one above is a different seastar.

At the seagrass lagoon and the sandy areas, these synaptic sea cucumbers are quite common.

Even the Haddoni carpet anemone can be found in Cyrene. Ria spotted the Gigantea.

The last time I saw these Denison's nudibranchs was at Beting Bronok. I like the blue spots on its body.

This hairy crab is a popular well-liked crab especially during the Naked Hermit Crabs walks. It is like a teddy-bear crab with its hairs looking like the teddy's fur. Not only that, these hairy crabs are gentle and can be handled by hand.

Here's a collage of the "fan-y" organisms. The first two are peacock anemones, and the third one is a shy fan worm. The last photo at bottom right is the female flower of the Enhalus tape seagrass where white styrofoam-like male flowers meets.

Look at how these cute these tape seagrass's male flowers are.

Also spotted at the sandy pool of tidal waters is this sandfish sea cucumber.

Common seastars, though are not common anymore in Singapore, are still common in fantastic shores like Cyrene reef. They are lost mainly due to overcollection. Looking at this couple having sex.

How I wish all beaches of Singapore can have such star marks on the sandbar, rather than cleanly sanitized sand pour on top of concrete, for eg. Sentosa. Someone once did dig sand for sandcastle in Sentosa's beach and hit concrete. How disappointing yet amusing.

More sandy animals are the sand dollars and also this soldier crab that is part of large troops on Cyrene reef, a rare sight nowadays.

It was a sunny and scorching afternoon, yet we persisted on to explore the huge area of land exposed during low tide. Time is always not enough.

There are different and many "boulders" of hard corals...

and different types of soft corals, like this fingerlike leathery soft coral, in the reefs of Cyrene.

Ron and I were excited to see this huge slug that was almost 3 quarters the size of a pair of chopsticks. According to Ron, it looks like Pleurobranchus forskalii.

Ron and I came across these school of fishes leaping across the tidal pool we were crossing and it was a spectcular sight! There are so many fishes. Hope this video uploaded is clear enough.

Saw this Neptune's cup sponge with Ron before we had to really leave before the tide caught us trapped.

While waiting for our small boat to fetch us, I found this bunch of seed-like stuffs. Asked Marcus and he told me these are the egg cases of a shark.

As sun sets over the stunning the Cyrene, we bidded goodbye.

And here we go, with the boatman, back to the large boat, where we returned back to mainland, back to reality, back to tons of work awaiting.... Haha. End of fantasy.


sgbeachbum said...

I think whales do not lay egg cases...they are into live births.


It's egg cases of Shark. :o)

peizee said...

wow its exciting to know that cyrene has shark egg cases. cool stuff.

Unknown said...

i'm so ashamed to be a biology student to say that whales lay egg cases. blushes

Thank you for the correction.

Chia Shang Ming said...


Great pictures, it is certainly relieving to know that such places still exist within Singapore's Waters.

Unknown said...

Yup, however, a boatman shared with us,, that Cyrene Reef would be reclaimed by 2015 to create a tank store.

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