Monday, May 9, 2011

Lovely surprises from Cyrene Reef

After a very long and tiring Saturday, I was glad to be rewarded with lots of wonderful sightings from Cyrene Reef on Sunday morning!

It is always a joy to visit Cyrene Reef because it is full of life!

First of all, you will not be able to miss the numerous number of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) on this shore.

Inspired by some of Ria's underwater shots, I also dipped my UW camera for a swim and it captured some lovely photos of the knobbly sea stars found within the clear waters of Cyrene. I simply adore the reflection in this shot.

For those sea stars that are not found within tide pools, they were literally slowly being baked under the hot sun (Yes you should know that the weather now is crazily hot!). These sea stars usually curl themselves with their arms to minimize surface area so as to reduce dessication and exposure to heat.

Cyrene Reef is almost like an echinoderm heaven. Once in a while, we may see weird creatures like this knobbly sea star with blue knobs! I have not seen something like this before and hope it is not a sign of disease.

The knobbly sea stars can look very different among one another. Here we have three different looking stars, one in the normal orange-red colour, the other in complete beige which we affectionately named as blondie. The last one is the weirdest- I was shocked when I first found this fellow.

We have seen juvenile knobbly sea stars in complete green but on this trip, it was my first time seeing an adult knobbly sea star in this colour.

However, the underside of the same sea star is purplish in colour. How interesting this is.

Just not long after I found the above green knobbly, I also stumbled across this juvenile Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus).

Another Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus) which has knobs that look more like those of knobbly sea stars was also found earlier during the trip. It is only about 5cm in diameter. This must be the smallest Pentaceraster sea star we have ever encountered!

This Purple sea cucumber (Family Cucumariidae) is usually more commonly sighted on our northern shores.

It has very extensive black feeding tentacles. They branch out quite a distance and this probably helps the sea cucumber gather more food from the sea water.

Chay Hoon was in top form finding stuffs again. Unfortunately she forgot to bring her big camera and her small camera's battery was dying. She found this small creature (about 1 cm in length) which looks a bit like a sea cucumber. Could it be something else?

She also found lots of tiny Lovenia heart urchins (Lovenia sp.)! I have not seen them for the longest time.

Since these lovely heart urchins are so small (around 1-2cm in length), I fixed on my Raynox add on macro lens and captured this shot showing the smaller tube feet. Can you find them?

More exciting finds include this rare Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum) feeding on a sand dolllar! I have not seen this snail for sometime already and previously only sighted them at Changi and Cyrene Reef.

Siti who was on this trip with her team to work on seagrass research found this pair of Black-mouth peacock anemones which are not as common as those seen in the northern shores.

Chay Hoon found this jellyfish that we have not seen before! We showed it to Nicholas who has special interest in jellyfishes. He suggested this is a Crown jellyfish (Cephea sp.).

This tiny cute Box crab (Family Calappidae) found by Marcus holds its pincers in front of its body to form a boxy shape. These pincers are specialised for cracking open snail shells. This is only my second time seeing a box crab on our shores.

One of the top finds of the day must be this special nudibranch found by Nor Aishah! Chay Hoon suggests it might be a Cerberilla species. This slug is indeed gorgeous.

Another slug seen during the trip is this huge sidegill slug (Pleurobranchus forskalii).

Who needs to go to Manado to muck dive so as to see weird critters. Cyrene is the only place thus far in Singapore's shores that I have came across this decorative looking dragonet.

Another top find of the day must be this Threespot Dascyllus anemonefish (Dascyllus trimaculatus) found among the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)!

It is my first time seeing this damselfish among our carpet anemones. This fish is seldom seen in our local waters. Jeff also recently sighted this fish during his dive off Sisters in April.

Cyrene Reef just never fails to amaze me with its diversity of marine creatures. I can't wait to visit it again and again! :)

More photos of the trip here:

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