Thursday, July 31, 2008

Solo at Changi

It's the last of this year's super low spring tide season and my first destination today is Changi. While Ria and company were at another part of Changi checking a closer look on the echinoderms and the fishes, I was alone at another wonderful stretch searching for my sand stars (Astropecten sp.).

Our own shores are just splendid, that is because you can find different types of stunning sea stars. I especially like cake sea stars (Anthenea aspera) because they come in various patterns and colours! The ones above are juveniles.

If you take a closer look at the cake sea star, you can spot a beige looking dot on the surface. It is called its madroporite that serves as the external opening of sea star's water vascular system.

There are also medium-sized (or teenage if you want to call it that way) cake sea stars.

It's underside will reveal several pincer-like structures called pedicellariae.

At Changi, we can also spot this uncommon Gymnanthenea laevis sea star.

Today, I had a special find of this six-armed Gymnanthenea laevis! It has beautiful orange tips at the end of its arms.

The underside of Gymnanthenea laevis sea stars looks similar to that of cake sea stars though as both have pincer-like structures. Find out more about differentiating the stars at the Ria's wildfilms blog.

Today was weird because the large mats of Asian date mussel beds (Musculista senhousia) went missing!

I was relieved the sand stars are still there! As you can probably notice, they are still leftover shells of the Asian date mussels around the sand area. Looks like the disappearance of the mussel beds seem like a recent event.

The star find of the day must be this super rare sea star which is probably Luidia hardwicki. To identify the species, one needs to use a stereomicroscope or a strong hand lens to see the occurence of bivalve pedicellariae along the ambulacral groove.

It's amazing that Changi is particular rich with sea stars as I've seen the four-armed version before as well during the super low tide in May.

According to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", this five-rayed luidiid species was newly recorded for Singapore when three specimens were trawled in 1994 at Sultan shoal.

Of course they are many active brittlestars in the dark where the seaweeds are.

If you are keen enough, you can spot several motionless pipefishes on the tidepools.

This mantis shrimp is not a pushover and can pinch you badly, so never pick marine organisms with your bare hands especially when you do not know them.

I like this tiny maroon coloured sea pencil with emerging polyps.

Also encountered included several of these Miliaris cowrie (Cypraea miliaris). This snail covers its shell with its body called as the mantle. Its mantle has many hairy-looking projections.

While photographing the cowrie, the most stunning thing happened! Out from the ground emerges a large bristleworm as it it appeared like magic. The worm is very beautiful with its pinkish body. I though it is going to do something to the cowrie but it does not seem to be disturbing it.

Sometimes these worms are also known as fireworms because you will feel a firey sensation when you try to touch it. A closer look reveals the business end of the several spiney structures that can prick into your hands.

There are many octopus on the shore as well that are white in colour.

This is yet another octopus that is white as well. Believe that its whitish coloration is to match the sandy substrate for camouflage purposes.

It is interesting to see another octopus that is not white but brownish. High possible to match not the sand but the jar beside it. If you take a look inside the jar, there are many eggs which I do nt know whom they belong to.

Before leaving, I managed to see this school of catfishes with the returning tides.

I always thought that if I'm alone, will not spot many fantastic creatures because I'm quite lousy at spotting animals. But the richness in the Changi shores has made my solo trip today worth the waking up at 2am to reach there at 3am.

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