Friday, May 20, 2011

Pretty creatures of Beting Bronok

It's my 5th time back at Beting Bronok and I have been visiting this reef annually since 2007. This northern shore is very special because there's always lots of special and pretty creatures that we can look forward to encounter.

This stunning nudibranch topped my wish list for the day. And indeed we saw quite a number of them at Beting Bronok!

The scientific name of this slug is Cuthona sibogae. They are usually found in the orange fern-like hydroids (Sertularella sp.).

Later on during the trip, I came across more of these slugs among seaweeds and some other hydroids. Don't you think these slugs are just so gorgeous in their electrifying purplish and orange colour?

Just when we were landing on the reef, Chay Hoon immediately spotted several Aeolid nudibranchs that we often see on our northern shores. This is probably Cratena sp.

On more hydroids, I spotted a couple of these slugs that I have never seen before. Chay Hoon suggests that they are another type of Aeolid nudibranch which could be a Flabellina sp.

The ultimate challenge to take macro photos was reached when Chay Hoon spotted a couple of the Doto nudibranch (Doto sp.) on a hydroid floating in the deeper waters. As the hydroid was moving in the waters and that the nudi is just too small, this photo is the best that I can take.

That's not all! Another new slug sighting for me will be this Notobryon nudibranch (Notobryon sp.) found by Chay Hoon again. This Melibe-looking slug has a pair of 'flaps' in the middle of the body which it can use to swim with.

Wow, that's a lot of slugs, now let's have a look at the stars! One of the prettier stars that we can see at BB will be this juvenile Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera).

Ivan later found an adult Cake sea star that looks really like a cake in star shape with its pretty patterns.

Chay Hoon shared with me her find of this Scaly sea star (Nepanthia belcheri) which I've not seen at Changi and Cyrene Reef for a while already.

Near the landing site were a number of these Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus). I did not encounter as many of them as of previous years. They could have went into deeper waters.

However, the numerous and large Thorny sea urchins (Prionodidaris sp.) are still around and they tend to congregate at the water's edge where there are lots of sponges and reefy associates.

There were many more Spiky sea pens (Scytalium sp.) during this trip than ever before. It could be seasonal in nature. Living among the sea pens are the Painted porcelain crabs (Porcellanella picta) and this particular porcelain crab has very pretty circular spots on its white shell.

This other porcelain crab seems to be wearing lip stick! So cute!!!

The Haekel's anemones (Actinostephanus haekeli) were sighted and I saw two bigger sized ones.

Here is a much much smaller individual of the same anemone. This was my only shot before the murk came in.

Another special anemone sighted will be this Ball tip anemone found by Ria.

It was nice to see this olive coloured flatworm which I've found two years ago at BB. Am not too sure about its identity.

We saw a number of these Bailer volutes (Melo melo) that are commonly found at BB. Unfortunately these huge snails are considered endangered as they can be collected as food.

Last but not least before the end of the trip, I saw this cowrie which looks like one that I have never seen before. It is not the Onyx cowries (Cypraea onyx) that we commonly see on BB.

Here is the underside of this mysterious cowrie.

Though Beting Bronok is not as nice as before the 2007 floods as according to those who visited in 2006 and before, it remains to be a very special reef and always a delight to visit.

More photos of the trip can be found here:

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