Monday, March 9, 2009

Cyrene never fails to amaze

If you can still recall, there were prolonged showers with thunder all over Singapore beginning around 11am all the way till late afternoon.

But that did not stop the Team Seagrassers from launching out to Cyrene Reef for our monitoring session. Thank God that the rain turned into a drizzle when we arrive at Cyrene Reef.

I guess the icon of Cyrene Reef must be the knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus). There are so many of them all in different sizes and shades of colours.

For the first time, I went to site 2 which is the furthest away to monitor the seagrasses there. I had the privilege to work with Dr. Shawn Lum for the transect. He was here at Cyrene Reef for his first time and was nice to work with. We were efficient in our seagrass monitoring and completed it in 40 mins!

Thus, we had some time to check out this fantastic shore.

I walked over back to site one and Nor Aishah showed us her find of a six and two-legged knobbly sea star.

Cyrene Reef is so special and never fails to amaze because there are rare creatures that we hardly or do not see at other shores.

Like this sea star that we do not exactly know what it is. It could be another species of the genus Pentaceraster.

I was on the lookout for the more prominent Pentaceraster mammilatus-looking sea stars and stumbled upon two of them!

I like this sea star as it has really cool bluish green body with yellow knobs. Sadly, the central knobs are missing. I have no idea what happened to this sea star.

Unfortunately, my second find was a dying one. I suspect it was the rain that caused such physiological stress to this poor star as it was not in the sea water pool.

Later on, Kenerf showed me his find of yet another stunning Pentaceraster sea star. I was relieved that this one look healthy and fine. The bright yellow knobs on its black and white body is really contrasting and pretty!

While looking for more rare stars, I found this really cute juvenile cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea)! Unlike their adult counterparts, juveniles are flatter, more star-shaped with short arms. This is really a great find!

Other echinoderms sighted at Cyrene include this pencil sea urchin (Prionocidaris sp.) found by Marcus.

Sijie found this weird looking sea cucumber instead. It is small and I do suspect it could be a juvenile stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora).

First sighted on the previous Cyrene trip which I couldn't go, there exist bivalves that are T-shaped. These intruiging creatures are actually Hammer oyster (Malleus sp., Family Malleidae).

In fact they are all over the seagrass meadows. Thanks to Sijie who first pointed them out, otherwise we will continue overlooking these cool bivalves!

On rocks where crevices can be found, there is also life within. Many thunder crabs (Myomenippe hardwicki) were hiding inside the holes. My first time seeing them at Cyene actually.

As for anemones on top of the usual ones, I found this rarer snakey sea anemone (possibly Macrodactyla doreensis). In real life, it's green coloration is really pretty.

The underside of the oral disk is purplish with pale yellow eye-shaped non-adhesive verrucae. There are white stripes radiating from the central mouth.

Last but not the least of all the special finds today will be this helmet snail (Semicassis bisulcatum) found by Chee Kong Weiling et al.. I had seen this rare snail at Changi last month before but it's really nice to know that it can also be found at Cyrene.

Interestingly, the base of its mantle is dark purple in colour with blue stripes on it. How cool is that! The snail also has a pair of eyes with a tentacle each.

Time always pass very fast while we are at Cyrene. Soon we had to board the boat and say goodbye! Indeed Cyrene Reef never fails to amaze despite going there for several times already.

On the ride back, it was amusing to look at Siti acting sternly with Marcus trying to play.

Today was a wonderful break from all the writing for my honours thesis and tomorrow another splendid shore to visit!

1 comment:

chimck said...

The helmet shell was found by somebody else (Weiling et al.), not me leh.

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