Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rainbow over Semakau

We are back at Semakau for seagrass monitoring. Despite the worrying signs of heavy rain and dark clouds in the vicinity, we proceeded to the sites as usual. It was drizzling at the beginning, which might either signal the end of rain or the beginning of a storm.

But thank God, the rain cloud went away and we were treated with a clear sky and a beautiful rainbow!

Here is Mabel posing in the photo. It's her first time on our shores and doing seagrass survey! It was nice monitoring seagrasses with her, as she picked it up quite fast for a first timer. :)

Beside my transect was Nor Aishah's line. We heard a loud boom and later realized live firing was in progress at Pulau Senang.

While monitoring the line with Mabel, I came across this dead shell with something moving inside. It is a blenny!

Soon, we finished our transect line. I decided to be adventurous by walking to the extreme south to find the elusive Galloping Sand Star (Stellaster equestris). I have not been to that part of Semakau since Dec 08. Along the way, I could still see the rainbow- this time in a complete arc!

I came across three people on that shore looking for stuffs with their bare hands and a hand net. I had a quick chat with one of them who was very friendly. He shared with me in simple english that he used to stay at Semakau and has been relocated to mainland. Once in a while, he will come back here by boat.

Sadly, I did not find the Galloping star despite trying hard to find them in the short 30 minutes. Instead I saw a semi-buried cockle.

After digging it up, I realized it looks different from the usual plain versions. It looks like the Strawberry cockle (Fragum unedo)! The strawberry cockle has red lines or beads on its shell.

Here is how the cockle looks like when I turn it to look like a heart shape.

The most number of sea cucumber species found will be the Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra). These edible sea cucumbers are no longer common on our mainland shores.

At the part of the shore, the habitat is a bit like our northern shores. This Cake sand dollar (Arachnoides placenta) is not commonly found at other portions of Semakau shore.

There are many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) and Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) on the sandy shore.

Above the Hairy crab (Family Pilumnidae) is actually a Moon snail (Family Naticidae) with its extended body trying to hunt for its prey.

I later found a smaller moon snail with its food! The mantle was enveloping a tiny clam, which will in the process suffocate the clam.

Like my previous time at this shore, the Starry flatworm (Pseudobiceros stellae) was also found!

Too bad, I could not stay at this shore for long as I had to take time to walk the long distance back to where we began. I had a look at the reefy areas when heading back.

It was a relief to know that the cyanobacteria bloom had died down and the hard corals all well exposed. There were no bleaching of hard corals sighted. :)

One of the pretty hard corals commonly found at Semakau will be the Sunflower mushroom hard coral (Heliofungia actiniformis).

I came across this pinkish egg ribbon belonging to nudibranch. Not too sure what kind of pretty nudi will come out from the eggs.

Despite walking very quickly (since Semakau is huge!), I managed to see two species of nudibranch. This is the Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa).

The Bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis) seems to be in season as we have also been seeing it at other shores.

I popped by the resident Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa). It has indeed grown a little bigger and is very charming.

As well, I stumbled upon the family of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)! It's always a joy to encounter them.

The funniest knobbly will be this fellow trying to cramp itself into a crevice. The two limbs and its position gives me the picture of a car mechanic trying to fix something below a car. Can you picture it?? HAHA!!

All too soon, the sun went down and we called it a day. I'm so glad that the weather held.

More photos of the trip here:

1 comment:

limu said...

What a great job you have done with your survay! I enjoyed your posts! Thank you.

Shu` Tin

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