Monday, May 30, 2011

Knobblies at Beting Bemban Besar

It's been more than a year since I've visited this gigantic submerged reef. This time, I was looking foward to have a look at the colony of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) that Ria found on her last trip.

It was a really long walk from our alighting point and it took me a while to locate these huge stars because they are congregated at a small area in high density. In this photo are three of the knobblies!

I saw about 15-20 of the Knobbly sea stars of different shades of red, beige and pink. Most are nearing the adult size but not as big as the ones we see elsewhere.

My most favourite knobbly of all would be this reddish-orange individual with rounded knobs. It look really like a toy.

Here is another interesting knobbly, this time with its body over a rock. Who knows, this star might be predating on something?

Beting Bemban Besar lies off Semakau shore but only has growths of seagrasses at certain parts of the reef.

At the reef edge, the shore might seem dead from far judging from the uniform brown colour in this photo.

But if you have a closer look at the reef edge, you would realize that this shore has quite a lot of the Mole mushroom corals (Polyphyllia talpina) as shown at the bottom two photos in the collage. There were also a couple of the Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp.), as shown at the top two photos.

Here is an assortment of the different hard coral species that I have came across during this trip. They range from the Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.), Acropora coral (Acropora sp.), some favid corals (Family Faviidae), green Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.), Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.), Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.), Bracket mushroom coral and encrusting Disk coral (Turbinaria sp.).

There was this colony of hard coral in yellow-brown that I was not sure of its identity.

Here is a closer look at this unidentified hard coral. Maybe somebody would like to enlighten me?

In addition to hard corals, there are also quite a number of soft corals especially at certain parts of the shore. At the bottom of the photo is the Asparagus flowery soft coral.

On another colony of the Asparagus flowery soft coral, I did not realize there was an orange Swimming crab (Family Portunidae) hiding within the soft coral until I processed the photo!

LinkIt was nice to spot the special Leathery sea anemone (Heteractis crispa) again. Ria saw a smaller one too on the same trip.

Though it was bright daylight, I came across this reef octopus that was very well camouflaged. However, it revealed its presence by inking. I guess the poor octopus was stressed out by me being around?

In addition to the nice octopus find, I also came across two Squids (Family Loliginidae)!

Towards the end of the trip, Andy spotted yet another one. This time the octopus is in red.

What is this bizzare looking creature? It is not an anemone but an Upsidedown jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.).

This jellyfish is not abnormal! It prefers to be 'upside down', with its bell facing the sea floor and tentacles facing upwards toward the light. This is because they harbour microalgae on their tentacles, thus they need to be upside down to make food.

Though the rest of the team saw a number of the Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis), I only saw one and it was grazing across the sand.

As the day out on BBB was really hot and scorching on the second half of the trip, most animals went into hiding or burrowed into the sand. The place turned into a desert and we were literally toasted! I looked around and saw Russell taking photo of something. As I was getting bored I went to have a look.

Nice! He found an interested six-armed Common sea star (Archaster typicus). :)

Finally the tide returned and we geared ourselves to return to Alex's boat. However, the engine of the dinghy malfunctioned and we had to wait for the first batch of people to paddle back to the boat before coming back to fetch us.

During this waiting time, Ivan spotted a couple of these sea cucumbers that we still do not know its identity but sighted before at southern shores.

Finally I have finished blogging the 6-days straight of super low tide series. Though it was tiring, the super low tides revealed a lot of our marine life from different parts of Singapore. :)

More photos of the trip here:

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