Saturday, July 5, 2008

A very special reef: BB

Yes, similar to Sekudu, I'm back after a long year wait back this time to BB. And this time BB has recovered much better from the mass flooding event in Jan 2007.

Lots of sponges of different forms and colours sprung into life from the ground, making the reef very much cheery and colourful.

With sponges, there are of course slugs! The most common nudibranch spotted today was this Denison's nudibranch. However, this one is not seen feeding on sponges but perhaps maybe feeding on the sea squirt.

The blue dragon nudibranch never fails to marvel me with its long morphology and bright blue colouration. Indeed, it looks like a magnificient dragon.

One of the special finds of the day must be this Bornella stellifer nudibranch that I've never seen before. It's beautiful I must say! Thanks Joe Lai for finding it.

Chay Hoon with her eagle eyes, found this about 1-2cm sized nudibranch!

This slug is called Polybranchia orientalis. However, it is not a nudibranch but a sacoglossid.

This cuttlefish can borrow into the soft sediments and we were pleasantly surprised when it did that in front of us.

Finally get to see the bailer snail at BB! The last year when I came, did not managed to see. This is a rare snail that is unfortunately usually poached to go down the cooking pot, what a shame!

There's a smaller bailer snail that is feeding the gastropod!

There were also a number of seahorses spotted! Too bad Collin is not around.

I love to see flowery sea pens and it has been some time I've seen it.

Here's another one in maroon red colour. Very nice!

In sea pens, we can find these tiny porcelain crabs living among the sea pen.

BB is a place you can find many large cauliflower lookalike soft corals.

There are also many flowery soft corals, a closer look reveals something exciting. There are tiny ovulid snails living in the corals. My first time seeing them. They do eat the soft corals they live on.

For some reasons, there are many cowries found.

I also chanced upon a number of small kite butterflyfishes swimming in the tidal pool.

Another first in my intertidal experience is this handsome moray eel.

Though they are usually seen when diving, one need not dive to see them in Singapore!

There also also plenty of sea urchins that are very much larger than those I've seen at Changi.

Joe Lai called for us that he found two brittle stars. By the time I reached, I could not see its nice yellow and blue arms.

Of course, I was looking for my sand stars and only one was found today. Looks like the rubble substrate or the supper muddy substrate in BB is not favourable for these sand stars.

There are also many knobbly sea stars at BB where the Star Trackers team do check them regularly.

I did not shift the stars but its amazing to see them in high density and also neat pattern.

I like this photograph of the stars with the background. Surreal!

Other stunning stars found include this orange tipped sea star, Gymnanthenea laevis.

Joe Lai also found a rather rare sea star, Nepanthia belcheri.

But interestingly, this sea star has been spotted at Changi and Sekudu and today for 3 consecutive days. Wow.

Yet there is another pretty sea star that looks unfamiliar. It has patterns of red on its grey and brown upper side.

The underside is really beautiful with the pinkish and white patterns. Ria and I suspected this to be a cake sea star after much checking. I've not seen such colour patterns before on cake sea stars!

The finale and also the super find of the day is this sea star that Sam found. This is highly probable to be Craspidaster hesperus that we have never seen it intertidally before in Singapore!!! It has a diameter of about 13cm.

According to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", this sea star was seen before from a trawl near Johore Shoal.

The book says that the arms of this sea star are bordered with a distinct series of wide marginal plates which themselves taper in size towards the ends of the arms.

Like other astropectinids and Luidia species, the upper surface consists of closely packed table-like paxillae crowned with short spinelets. You can actually see the spinelets in this photograph if you look closely at the edge of each circular structure.

This is the view of its oral side. This sea star has pointed tube feet.

This is really a fantastic find and it adds on to the sea star species one can find intertidally!

Soon, it was time to leave this wonderful reef full of surprises.

Along the boat ride back, we saw this white bellied sea eagle resting on the buoy.

Today's trip was really worth the going, despite we all having to leave the jetty at 3am plus. Hope to be able to return to BB sometime soon, though most probably next year. Till then!

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