Monday, July 12, 2010

Cyrene in the dark

Yesterday was our second trip to Cyrene Reef in the DARK! Yes, complete darkness. But our reefs are usually more alive at night because there is no scorching sun. Talk about the night is still young, these creatures love to party all night long.

This photo was taken when the sun was near the horizon towards the end of the trip. I like this scenic postcard shot of the knobbly sea stars against the dawn with the giant cranes of Pasir Panjang at the background.

Somehow, I find it difficult not to take photos or blog about the numerous Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) every time I get to Cyrene Reef.

While trying to photograph this knobbly, suddenly a crab crawled on top of it!

With a closer look, I realized it is the Purple climber crab (Metopograpsus sp.)! How cute to have crawled across the big sea star for just that short five seconds. Interesting, this is probably our first record of this crab on Cyrene... haha!

Instead of the usual collage of the bigger knobblies, I was delighted to have found more than enough juveniles this time to put them together here like a gallery. It's definitely a joy to know that the knobblies at Cyrene are still procreating!

Most of the juveniles were found mainly at the seagrass meadows. Which means that seagrasses are important habitats for these young stars.

My favourite of all the juveniles that I came across will be this bluish grey individual with an underside that is not like the colour of the top: it is orange and bluish-purple instead. How colourful is that.

Another juvenile sea star that I came across will be this Cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea).

It's underside is much prettier than its upperside in my opinion.

I was on my usual Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)-hunting mode and found a juvenile! One of its arm seems to be a bit injured though. Marcus and Liana saw an adult one! It has been some time since I've seen an adult.

'Nuff of sea stars (which I'll never get bored though), here are some elegant-looking Peacock anemones (Order Ceriantharia) that is very common in our northern shores.

I also came across this other type, which is the Black-mouth peacock anemone, that is more seen in the south. It has a dark centre and neon colour combination of tentacles.

Slug-wise, I came across this Bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis).

And almost at the same time, Mei Lin found this Spotted foot nudibranch (Discodoris lilacina) that was also found last month on Cyrene too.

One of the two top finds of the day will be this special snail, Trivirostra oryza (Family Triviidae) found by Mei Lin. I'm amazed how she found it as it is very small- about 1-2cm.

This is only my second time seeing it! I first witnessed this endangered snail at Sentosa. Surprisingly, it wasn't found under any rocks. This snail, like a cowrie but not one, has a beautiful mantle but yet with a shocking white shell.

Along my way of looking around, there were quite a number of crabs and one of my favourite will be this Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus).

Once it noticed my presence, the crab quickly dug itself into the sand.

Sea cucumber-wise, the more special ones will be this Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis) found by James.

The second top find of the day will be this rare sea cucumber that Ivan and Marcus found. This is Bohadschia vitiensis. It is only my second time seeing it, the first time was also at Cyrene.

This sea cucumber tends to hide in the sand during the day and only comes out at dusk.
Which is why night trips to Cyrene are important! :-)

I had quite a fun time following this big and pretty cuttlefish!

Because it can change colours to become very pretty. I filmed a short video of this cuttlefish, will upload once I find the time.

Soon, it was time to soak ourselves in yet another fantastic sunrise.

Which also marks the end of the trip. The waters came back faster than we could get out!

Thus, we quickly headed back to our departure point with the only remaining part of sandbar, to put on our life jacket.

And here we have- Mei Lin the hardcore leading the way to Jumari and his dinghy with the water engulfing Cyrene's sandbar.

Cyrene is indeed enchanting. I still can't get enough of this special reef despite having visited this shore so many times.

Read more about Cyrene on the Cyrene Reef Exposed blog and facebook page.

More photos of the day's trip here:

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