Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cyrene- Still as beautiful in the drizzle

And many many months of absence to Cyrene Reef, finally I was able to make it to yesterday's trip to this amazing patch reef stuck in the middle of the busy shipping lane. We were with Prof Paul who was there to have a look at the seagrass meadows of Cyrene. :)

Just as we set off, there were heavy rain, lightning and thunder! We were worried. But thank God, when we arrived, everything setttled for a drizzle and we could land.

As this is an amphibious landing, we had to wear the life jackets during the process. Haha, everything looks so cool right. Hehehe. By the way, this is also the first trip for Allen and Geraldine, and also their first time seeing Knobblies!!

Yes, there are many many Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) in Cyrene. It is the main star attraction of the shore.

As it was drizzling, photography was hard above water with all the ripples and raindrop effects. So I took some interesting underwater shots of the stars submerged among the lush seagrasses of Cyrene.

Elsewhere near the coral rubble, some of the stars have weird positions as if they are climbing a mountain. Haha.

And here are some more of the many many knobblies we saw during the trip.

The top star find of the day is this Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus) found by James. It is so pretty, and in my opinion, the most cool-looking sea star species in Singapore.

This special star was first recorded in Cyrene Reef! And it seems that Cyrene is supporting a good small population of them. Interestingly, this sea star was previously known to exist only in the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Again, I spotted this weird looking sea star that looks like a hybrid between Knobbly sea star and Pentaceraster sea star, based on their external morphology.

Ok, enough of the star studded stuffs. Haha. Here's the other creatures seen despite the rain.

Cyrene is also home to many different types of Fan clams (Family Pinnidae)!

Taking a peek, one can see the filter feeding components of the bivalve.

Some other species of the fan shells have different patterned mantles.

And this particular one is completely orange in colour.

Closeup on the stunning orange mantle belonging to this species of Fan clam.

James found this pinkish coloured Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus). Why is it pink? Is it moulting or is it just a juvenile coloration?

As I mentioned previously, Cyrene has habitats that resemble that of the northern shore. Like this White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) that we usually only see in the north. Otherwise, this sea urchin is hardly seen at our Southern shores.

This sea urchin is great at camouflaging as it can pick up pieces of stuff to put on top of themselves.

Underwater, the banded fan worm look very elegant.

Among a rather small Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea), there were two of these Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimines brevicarpalis).

What is different and more prominent will be the proliferation of Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata). They are believed to eat the Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.). Some of them are also found among the seagrasses.

Here's a pair of different sized leaf slugs found by James. I think they are very cute.

The daylight low tide period spent in Cyrene is always shortlived. Very soon, we have to say goodbye to Cyrene among the drizzling of rain. Nevertheless, Cyrene is still as beautiful as before.

Though Mei Lin couldn't find any living clams today, there were exciting finds of dead clam shells! I found the shell of the Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) on the top of the photo. Mei Lin found the shell of the Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea) which is on the bottom right.

What is the species of giant clam shell on the bottom left? It is most likely the shell of the extinct-in-Singapore
Hipppopus hippopus giant clam that hasn't been sighted for a long long time! I really hope there are still living ones at Cyrene. Nevertheless, it was a great discovery, thanks James for finding it.

Soon, I'll be returning here for Teamseagrass monitoring. Can't wait! :-)

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