Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stars delight at Changi

Early at 3am, a small group of us arrived on Changi to do some work for my sand star project.

And indeed at this silty portion of the shore, there are plenty of sand stars (Astropecten indicus).

I even chanced upon this one centimetre sized juvenile sand star, it is so cute!

Soon after we completed our work, there was time to explore the shore at very low tide today. There were many sea stars sightings and I love Changi for being a rich sea star home. It's always a delight to visit the shore.

There were just many juvenile Cake sea stars (Anthenea aspera)! Below are photographs of three cake sea stars with their upper and lower surfaces photographed. More about identifying different species of sea stars from Changi at the wildfilms blog.

Cake sea star 1- Upper surface.

Cake sea star 1- Underside.

Cake sea star 2- Upper surface. It's brillant orange in colour, thanks Allen for spotting this! Unfortunately, one of its limbs got munched away.

Cake sea star 2- Underside.

Cake sea star 3- Upper surface.

Cake sea star 3- Underside.

This beautiful sea stars with orange tips is quite a mystery to me. The aboral or upper surface has large spines or bumps, characteristic of Gymnanthenea laevis.

However the underside has pattern of darker bars on the arms characteristic of Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera). Unfortunately, both species have pincer-like structures on their underside. Nevertheless, this nice star is a great find!

This sea star is very much easier to identify. It is the scaly sea star (Nepanthia belcheri) and my first time seeing a red coloured one at Changi! July was excited to see this species for his first time as well. :-)

Though the underside looks different, it is yet still very stunning-looking. This sea star is not commonly found at Changi though but it is relieving to know they are still doing well.

There were several juvenile Biscuit stars (Goniodiscaster scaber). They usually have neatly shaped arms in the form a typical star-shape.

We also saw this really large sized biscuit sea star on the shore as well.

On a small bay where there were much freshwater output, we were surprised to find two of these biscuit sea stars close to each other. And they are really huge, think the largest I've even seen! The ruler is a 30cm for scale purprose.

I'm quite sure they are biscuit sea stars because they don't have pincer like structures on their underside. Also, it follows the characteristics of biscuit sea star undersides where they have a smooth pale underside without bars and stripes. The star found also has the typical characteristic bluish pattern at its centre.

This indeed make me wonder how large can these biscuit sea stars grow up to.

Changi also is teemed with more of other living sea creatures other than sea stars!

You will find the best assortment and colour variations of peacock anemones at Changi.

It is quite rare to see the body column of this strawberry anemone exposed.

Ria told me she has not seen this transparent sea cucumber (Paracaudina australis) for a long time already. You can see its internal body parts!

They were several living gong gongs on the shore.

And also this tiny yet living scallop that only Chay Hoon can spot.

Somehow, there are many sea pens found today.

The sand star team also encountered a living octopus in its burrow.

I've glad to find the pebble crab again at Changi, the last time I saw it was December last year.

If my memory didn't fail me, today is also the first time I've seen a black coloured seahorse myself at Changi.

It's amazing to realize the richness of a mainland shore which we as Singaporeans can enjoy without having to even travel to offshore islands. Hopefully, we can protect these natural heritage which we belong to and keep them this way for our future generations to inherit.

Also to note: many thanks to Allen, Xiuli, Lester and July for sacrificing their sleep to come help me! Special thanks to Allen for driving me around too.

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