Friday, November 14, 2008

An evening with Cyrene

It has been pouring cats and dogs nowadays quite usually and we were quite blessed with good weather yesterday at Pulau Jong. And God is so good, the afternoon showers ended immediately after we reached Cyrene Reef today!

We were kinda early as the tide was only just beginning to recede and expose the magical reef in the middle of a busy shipping lane.

But it's always "No Problem" according to their new motor boat that sends us for the amphibous landing. This time, Mei Lin made it safe without the blue-black bruise she suffered yesterday. However, I landed with quite an impact though.

Quickly, we were greeted by the many numbers of common sea stars. They seem to be aggregating, for procreation I suppose?

I had a brief visit to the anemone where nemos can be found. Indeed, the nemo is still doing well there, though it is super shy as usual.

I saw this tiny red dot thing swimming around and wow, it's a super small sized juvenile with a white band. It's so cute and much less shy.

I also get to visit another species of carpet anemone where there are anemone shrimps residing.

The anemone shrimp looks pretty much transparent with its pretty tail with three orange spots.

A drama scene suddenly began at a blink of an eye.

I did see the scene completely but Marcus said that a swimming crab hit the anemone and apparently autotomized its own arm in other to escape. The arm was then quickly swallowed by the seemingly harmless and innocent looking carpet anemone. If you take a closer look, the right front claw of the crab is really missing! Wow, that was action pack.

There was this another type of anemone that can swim by pulsating its body movement, thus its name as swimming anemone. The first photo from top left is when it is close and then following at the opening series. As it pulsates, it will open and then close repeatedly in order to swim. Andy got a great video of that and we shall wait for it.

Yet, there is another much larger anemone on the seagrass area and I've no idea what it is!

What is Cyrene Reef without the hundreds of knobbly sea stars? Indeed the star trackers were working very hard to try and document a portion of the many many knobblies in Cyrene.

I particularly like this knobbly sea star that is pink in colour.

Sijie found this biscuit sea star which I think it's a first in Cyrene Reef. It's amazing how Cyrene Reef compromises of possibly the best combination of both commonly found northern and southern shore creatures.

I like the sides of the groove where it is tinted with blue.

Since we are on the topic of echinoderms currently, there were a number of sea cucumber species found. This one is the rare one, it is Holothuria notabilis. According to Robin, this species is being exploited for food in Madagascar.

Other species of sea cucumbers found include the sandfish sea cucumber, black sea cucumber and the synaptic sea cucumber.

Urchins are also can be found at Cyrene. This diadema sea urchin has some white or purplish spikes which is quite cool.

The seagrass habitat area also is home for many salmacis sea urchins that is white and oval in shape. There are many of them!

What intrigues me is that these urchins like to carry stuffs on top like zoanthids, shells, and even a crab carapace! If given a chance to research, might survey them and see what is the frequency that carry something and what do they usually carry. Most importantly, why is it for!

The seagrass lagoon, though it looks uniformly green white the beige sandy substrate, is a treasure trove. From this section of the photo, you can find four types of creatures!

The first is this rare Melibe nudibranch which is very big as compared to its other "naked" counterparts.

Next, there are also pencil sea urchins and juvenile common sea stars among the seagrass.

While squatting to take photographs of the urchins, I saw this tiny, yet stunnning looking blue dragon nudibranch that is crawling on the seagrass blade.

In fact, there are two of them! If I didn't squat down to look at it more carefully, I won't see it at all. It takes a keen eye to see the enormous amount of life.

I encountered this weird and unfamiliar looking feathery thing that I first thought it was a christmas tree worm from far.

A closer look reveals that it might be egg capsule of some animals since furthermore it is NOT moving.

Andy had a couple of great finds like this cuttlefish that squirted ink while swimming away from us.

He also found this juvenile batfish. Of course, both were nicely videoed by him underwater. We await for the clips.

At the coral rubble area, I found yet another more purplish looking blue dragon nudibranch.

Like northern shores, there are also gong gongs at Cyrene. You can see their eyes peering at you.

It's tranquil to be out at Cyrene with the blessed good weather and wonderful sunset.

All too soon, darkness started to enter and we had to quickly leave this oasis of life.

A last photo for sheer fun, Chee Kong as an arm chair biologist.

In one-two weeks time is EXAMS! Today marks the last day of FUN and I look forward for the low tides during December to explore our shores again properly.

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