The team seagrassers are out at Semakau today. After a downpour and some rain, we did our monitoring of seagrasses. Not long after I completed my transect with my partner, Ria called out to me and shares with me her find of the cryptic stars.
According to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", the cryptic stars live amongst rocks and stones on the upper to mid-shore level. They have a mottled, but variable, colouration which is actually for camouflage to be inconspicious to predators. That's how their name come from and also why their colors are quite close to that of rocks as shown in photograph above.
Dr Lane stated in his book that species identification is difficult and subtle differences can only be differentiated by molecular methods.
Dr Lane had recorded these cryptic stars from Pulau Semakau before too. The aboral surface shows the mottled yet variable colouration.
Another cryptic star's aboral surface.
Below are the oral views or underside shots of the three different cryptic stars. These stars actually feed on algae or small animals attached to rocks.
Furthermore, Dr Lane says in his book that "undisturbed rocky shore habitats suitable for this sea star tend to be rare and vulnerable in the tropics, including Singapore, and this, together with the tendency for speciation of isolated populations, has implications for biodiversity and conservation."