Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nems of St John's Island

For the past week of low tides, I wasn't able to explore the shores as I have already started full-time work. This has made me appreciate more of the Saturday low tides and I was glad to be able to go to St John's Island yesterday after a long absence from field trips.

In view of Dr Daphne Fautin's arrival later this month, anemones have become an important component of the lookout list for every field trip, including this one.

On the reefs off St John's, there are some of the Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) spotted by us. This is the anemone species that house the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).

Instead, I saw two of these Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimines brevicarpalis). They are believed to shelter in the anemone for protection and may feed on left overs. The shrimps have often been seen "hanging" over the edge of their anemone home with their pincers extended.

Another larged sized anemone will be this Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) that I encounter too at the reef.

And I saw two more of this species also at the sandy lagoon as well. One of which also houses the Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimines brevicarpalis) just like the one above.

Till now, I am still not sure what this anemone-looking animal is. Is it a true anemone? Hmmm.

The most abundant anemones must be the frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) that seems to be "freely" available on the rocky shore.

From this photo, we can see that its body column is dark with white spots or verrucae. Out of water, they look boring.

But when submerged, these frilly anemones look just so stunning. I have never paid much attention to them until this trip where I saw so many of them in different patterns and shades.

There are different types of frilly anemones. All we know is that their genus is Phymanthus. Their possible separate species have been named with common names. This one is the Banded frilly anemone with many white bars across their tentacles.

Generally all the tentacles of the banded frilly anemone are of the same colour, usually brown or greenish.

Their oral disks are generally plain like this particular one.

Another type of frilly anemone will be this Plain frilly anemone.

They have tentacles with many fine 'branches' that are generally of the same colour. Also, their 'branches' are generally the same colour as the tentacles, but may be outlined in white. Their oral disks are generally dark with darker spots, sometimes with a broad white or pale border, also with dark spots.

This frilly anemone is more interesting, it has brightly coloured tentacles within. It looks like the Six-point frilly anemone though this has only 5 brightly coloured tentacles.

But the most intriguing frilly anemone is definitely is weird looking frilly anemone that has six distinct tentacles of a different colour.

Yet if you look closer, they have slight purple tips similar to the Purple-tip frilly anemone (not so obvious in this photo).

Indeed the identification of these anemones are probably just confusing and we hope that Dr Daphne, the world expert for sea anemones, will be able to give us some clue to our diverse range of anemones in our shores. Looking forward to her arrival!

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