Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lunar New Year Day 2: Little Sister's Island

It's the second day of Chinese New Year. And we are back on our southern islands, this time at Little Sister's.

Despite the rain at the beginning and the unusually higher low tide, we were blessed with a wonderful find of a sea snake!

This is the Yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) which Russel first saw at the start of the trip. It is smaller than the usual ones we see. This fellow was trying to hide under a rock when it noticed our presence.

Somehow, I waited at the correct other end of the rock where it slowly crept its way out again. It is so cute! This snake has a highly toxic venom that can be fatal to human. So long as you don't provoke it, this gentle snake won't really bite you.

As for our encounter, the snake "danced" around us, seemingly liking Russel, before it went to the deeper waters.

After all the excitement, we went back exploring the higher shores as the tide did not allow us to go deeper.

Dotting on the sea wall are many Nerites (Family Neritidae).

On the not so low tide, the resident Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) was still submerged. Here is an underwater shot of the black mantle of the clam.

As for Ria, she decided to spend some time exploring the coastal forest of the tiny island.

There is a tiny stretch of the island where the coastal landform was kept the way it was. I prefer this much more to the man-made sea wall built at the other parts of the island.

Here, Russel is checking out on a huge boulder Favid hard coral (Family Faviidae). What is he photographing?

He was actually shooting this botak ring of the coral, which I agree does look quite nice on photo.

Elsewhere on the shore, I came across this Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).

What amazed me is this Long black sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) sticking out underneath the anemone! Haha, my first time encountering such a behaviour of sea cucumbers hiding in such a manner.

James shared with me another unusual sighting, a Wandering cowrie (Cypraea errones) stuck in the middle of zoanthids. Amusing!

He also found this large Top shell snail (Trochus niloticus). In this photo, the snail was trying to use its body to right itself up.

On the silty higher shore of the lagoon, I came across another snail. This much smaller snail that has intricate white lines on its mantle is the Pink moon snail.

These snails that are more elongated are named as the Black-lipped conch (Strombus urceus).

These cute snails have two long eye stalks sticking out to peer at what's going on around them.

Last but not least, I spent a while exploring the deeper sections of the reef which also in the process got me quite wet haha. Photography on a not-so-low tide with currents and fast boats around is no mean feat!

It's quite a pity I only manage a blurry photo of the stunning orange Cave corals (Tubastrea sp.) before sediments got stirred up. I saw much more other marine life which unfortunately were not well documented with my UW camera.

Nevertheless, these Feather stars (Order Crinoidea), being bright red, are not too difficult to find and thus I found five of them! :)

Here is my hand, as a scale to show how big these pretty creatures are!

I brought one up to higher shore for the rest to take nice photographs (which was later returned to original position).

Indeed in a shallower pool, the feather star look much more stunning and bright! So red that it matches with the chinese new year festive spirit. Hehe!

More photos of the trip here:

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