Monday, May 17, 2010

New star find at Pulau Jong

A new star was found at Pulau Jong today! Chay Hoon found it among the seaweeds!

This tiny sea star has 7 legs! And it was a mottled coloration consisting of speckles of purple and red on its upper surface. The edge of the star is orange-fringed.

Here is how the sea star looks like from its underside. And it resembles quite a bit to that of the Crown Seastar (Asterina coronata). My guess for now is that this is an Asterina sea star. Need to read up more later to try and give a better identification of this star.

It was difficult and a test of patience to photograph this sea star! It is as small as 1cm. Nevertheless, this star find has already made me very happy.

Yup, back to introducing the shore we went this morning, this is Pulau Jong. It is an uninhabited island that is very small but will enlarge its land size during low spring tides. One can find more soft corals here than most other shores of Singapore. Here is a patch of many Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae).

Among the many soft corals, some of them have tips that seems to give a greenish glow (not obvious in this photo). I have no idea why it does that.

Another unknown soft coral will be this branching colony that seem to have a wire-like skeleton as shown in the photo on the right.

Though there are lesser hard corals than soft corals at Jong, I still encountered quite a good variety this morning, such as this Boulder pore coral (Porites sp.).

Another boulder coral that is neon-green in colour will be this uncommon Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.) of good growth.

I had a brief look at the reef edge and came across quite a number of the Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp.). Most of them are really big, and that makes me wonder how old they are.

Another species of mushroom coral found will be this Smooth mushroom hard coral. I only saw one today though.

This Thin disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) is brightly coloured in orange and pink. Most of my other sightings of this disk coral is usually brownish and green.

More hard corals! However, I'm unable to ascertain the identity of these encrusting species.

This one either- no idea what it is. But I love the bluish tinge!

Another encrusting hard coral will be this purplish colony that has some bumps on its plates.

After a quick check at home, I realized this is probably the Bumpy plate montipora coral. The corallites of these corals are tiny with bumps in between. The bumps are usually bigger than the polyps.

I also came across a few of the uncommon Acropora corals (Acropora sp.). This one is in bright yellowish green.

However, there was another colony that had parts of its branches bleached. Just beside those branches, I saw sand stuck in between and these sand could have smoothered the coral to death. :(

At another branch of the same colony, the end of a certain branch of the coral turn purplish. I have no idea why.

Moving on from hard corals, there were three colonies of the purplish Magnificent sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica) right at the reef edge. I had a momentarily glimpse of a nemo in one of them before the shy fish went into hiding.

While I was exploring halfway, I noticed James and Mei Lin looking intently at something and Mei Lin shouted that they were looking at sea bunnies. Haha, actually that is just a nickname for the sea hares. Yes,they were looking at a pair of the Extraordinary sea hares (Aplysia extraordinaria) where the smaller one at the back seems to be hitching a ride on the larger one in front. Is this a mating behaviour? Hmmm.... I wonder.

Just nearby that pair is another sea hare that has pinkish fringe at its body. Could this be the Black-tailed sea hare (Aplysia dactylomela)?

Talking about sluggish creatures, there were also a number of nudibranch such as this Black-margined nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata). As for the super tiny ones that CH and Geraldine saw, I sort of gave up photographing before trying. Haha.

For once, I tried taking a shot of this Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa) without camera flash. And it took me a while to stabilize the camera to prevent shaking that might lead to blurry images.

Mei Lin got her giant clams found very early at the beginning of the trip. Just soon after we landed, Fidel spotted this adult Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa).

While Mei Lin was busy tagging that clam, I tried to relocate the other giant clam that was seen previously. After some searching, I finally found it. However, the soft corals seems to be getting nearer to the mouth of the clam! Don't you think it looks like many hands reaching out to the clam? Just use a bit of imagination! Haha.

Anyway, I hope this is not detrimental to the giant clam.

Last but definitely not the least, it was great for me to spot two Spider conches (Lambis lambis) at the reef.

This is my third time to Jong. And for also the third time, the trip is affected by rain. Good that at least it was just a drizzle and not a thunderstorm. That allowed us to continue with our trip.

Two more adventures to go before the end of this low tide season!!!


Jeffrey said...

Don't have my id books with me, but your bluish corals could be Echinopora sp. I might be wrong though.

Cheers, Jeff

Unknown said...

Thanks Jeff!

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