Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to froggy Sekudu

Just like Beting Bronok, somehow I only get to visit Pulau Sekudu once a year. My previous two trips to this island off Chek Jawa was in 2007 and 2008. And every trip seems to get better! Thanks to Luan Keng and Ron for organising this exploratory trip for RMBR guides. Access to this island is restricted so a permit was needed from Nparks to visit Sekudu.

What is so froggy about Pulau Sekudu will be its legend. Legend has it that three animals from Singapore - a pig, an elephant and a frog - had a challenge to see who could reach the shore of Johor first. Whichever animal failed to reach the shore would be turned into rock. All three creatures had difficulties swimming, and while the frog turned into Pulau Sekudu, both the pig and the elephant turned into a larger island, Pulau Ubin.

Interestingly, there is also a large boulder on the islet in the shape of a frog. Someone had added eyes to the boulder to keep reminding us that this is the frog island.

Though there are no living frogs at Sekudu, there are many crabs! When we first touched down on this island, one of our first sightings will be this Long-horned ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus).

I am not really too interested in crabs so I didn't pay much attention to them till recently. This Spoon-pincer crab (Leptodius sp.) was previously dismissed as the thunder crabs by me. A feature to note for this spoon-pincer crab will be its typical spoon-tipped pincers.

I seldom see the Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus) in the northern shores as they are more usually sighted in the southern shores, especially Sentosa.

The ladies of the team today were squirming at this super cute Sponge crab (Family Dromiidae) that I think was found by Oi Yee. Quoting from what Henrietta said, the crab looks like it is saying "Why are you all looking at me?". Ok that's not too funny =_=

Another crab spotted does not look like one until you see a chunk of rubbly-spongy mass move. Yes, this Decorator or Velcro crab (Camposcia retusa) attaches stuffs on itself for a good disguise.

I could find larger boulders of hard corals at Sekudu as compared to Beting Bronok. This particular Pore coral (Porites sp.) has beautiful Lumpy pink or purple sponge and Posy anemones on top of the coral boulder.

The Posy anemone is only commonly sighted in large numbers at the coral rubble of Sekudu. It has a smooth body column which is not usually seen but embedded in the substrate.

This is yet another Pore coral (Porites sp.) colony that is strangely hollow on the inside. This pore coral is purplish in colour.

While this one is bright green in colour.

Other than hard corals there are also soft corals like this Pink flowery soft corals. Too bad there I couldn't find any special ovulid snails on them.

The Spiky flowery soft coral was also sighted too.

I was on the look out for the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) where Ria found our first nemo of the north last year. Low and behold I found it but the water was murky as it was located deep by the edge. Ron and I later look around the carpet anemone and we had a split second sighting of the nemo and it went into the murky waters again. Glad to see my first nemo of the north today and most importantly to know that it is still doing fine. I think there are more nemos in the subtidal areas and I hope they will stay well and not be disturbed.

Later in the lagoon, Ron exclaimed his find of yet another Giant carpet anemone with hopes of probably nemos this time round. Too bad, we couldn't find any.

Also at the lagoon, I was pleasantly surprised to find what is probably special seagrasses, Halophila decipiens! This species of seagrass was only recently recorded for Singapore. The length of the leaf blade is longer than its width. I can't really see the minute serrations on the leaf edge and minute hairs on both sides of the leaf though, which will need microscopy or hand lens help.

Another first for me today will be this rare bivalve, the Watering pot shell (Brechites penis) found by Ron! The broader end of this weird looking animal is perforated with tiny holes and lies flush with the surface to filter feed. The broader end resembles a watering can, hence its common name. As for its species name, hmm probably it looks like a penis?

If you are wondering, how does this exactly be a bivalve??? Look closely and you will find that the two valves are greatly reduced and are fused onto the walls of its calcareous tube.

Another interesting fact about this weird looking bivalve will be that it is actually listed as "Presumed Nationally Extinct" on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. Wow.

After the stingray incident of Chay Hoon just only yesterday at BB and the history of yet another one exactly here at Sekudu by Ria, we were all terrified of stepping on these stingrays, especially at the lagoon which is notorious for housing all sorts of stingrays like this Blue-spotted stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii). This stingray usually has one spine on the tail that can cause a painful wound by injecting a venom. The Blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma) was also sighted in the lagoon as well today!

While Ron and I were at the low water edge of the coral rubble, we heard a shout from the lagoon and something about stingray from far. I was so nervous that it could just be yet another stingray accident today, following the one yesterday.

When we got to the scene, July was in the action of trying to remove the spine of a Mangrove whipray (Himantura walga) from Luan Keng's booties. We found out that LK only had a brush encounter as the spine did not hit her foot! PHEW.

Oi Yee was very calm and brave (I don't think I am that brave given my Kan Cheong spider reactions). She took over to remove the spine from LK's booties. I'm very impressed by Oi Yee! And thank God LK was not injured from this close encounter with stingrays.

We later left the Mangrove whipray back to a tidal pool for some rare photographic moments. Poor stingray must be much more traumatised!

Other than the countless number of stingrays in the lagoon, we had some other fishy finds as well.

There were several balls of juvenile Striped eeltail catfish (Plotosus lineatus) swimming around. Like the stingrays, these fishes are not joke to be handled with because this species has the ability to sting painfully, and in rare cases, may even be fatal.

A much less nervous fish will be this Fan-bellied filefish (Monacanthus chinensis). It sure looks like it is sleeping. :P

Stranded on the shore during today's super low will be this two other fishes which I am too lazy to check out their identity.

This two-spot reef octopus is usually only sighted in southern shores, but Sekudu is one of the few remaining northern shores where one can find them.

A special yet also the only flatworm find today will be this Fine-lined flatworm! It has intricate pattern of fine white parallel lines from the centre of the body to the sides. The underside of this flatworm looks as gorgeous.

There wasn't as many nudibranch sightings as we hope to see but it was still good to find several of the Blue dragon (Pteraeolidia ianthina) nudibranch.

Ron later found a large Purple foot nudibranch (Atagema spongiosa) and it was in the process of laying eggs!

Very common on rocky southern shores, the Black long sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) is rarely sighted in the north except for Sekudu.

There was a find of the test of a heart urchin too! Chay Hoon found living ones during her last trip.

For more echinoderms, read more about today's find of sand dollars and sea stars here!

The coral rubble area at the low water level mark shows many small growths of different types of sponges. I hope Sekudu, Chek Jawa and Beting Bronok will continue to recover well after the flooding event of 2007.

Today's tide was as long as almost 4 hours but time really flew! We didn't realize how much time we had spent on the island until the tide came back. It was time to leave this spectacular island with amazing rock formations.

Bye Sekudu! Hope to visit you again soon!


Unknown said...

Just a note to let the readers know that access to this island is restricted and a permit is needed from Nparks. :o)

Unknown said...

Ok thanks!

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