Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last morning trip of 2011: Cyrene Reef

Just before the low spring tide switches to evening tides, my last morning trip was to visit none other than the ever fabulous Cyrene Reef.

Several pressures surround this amazing reef that is situated right in the middle of a busy shipping lane and also surrounded by the industrialized Pasir Panjang Terminal, Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom. 

Flaring has been ongoing for some time from Jurong Island and the flame is almost as tall as the chimney!  The dredger can also be seen just off Cyrene Reef as well.

Cyrene Reef is one place that you can certainty see Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus. This particular one seems to be in a slight tipped-toe position. This could be a sign of spawning in sea stars!

On Cyrene Reef, I will also be on a search for weird-looking sea stars like this Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus). Geraldine found this brown star with lots of tiny beige knobs.

I later found another Pentaceraster sea star in dark blue. They seem to be growing bigger as time passes.

This trip was quite a fruitful one to spot sea urchins! Firstly, I came across this young Long-spined black sea urchin (Diadema setosum) among the seagrasses and sandy shore. It has been quite a while since we have seen this urchin in this habitat.

The White sea urchins (Salmacis sp) seem to be in season! There were many of them in parts of the seagrass meadows and sometimes they appear in great numbers together.

This White sea urchin (Salmacis sp) with purple spines look very pretty when submerged in water. You can see its tube feet fully extended outwards!

When young, these sea urchins tend to be more pink in colour which actually appeals to me more. Haha! Very cute indeed.

James and I each found a lovely heart urchin (Lovenia elongata)! These urchins can burrow very quickly into and out of the substrate. James found it when one was burrowing out from the ground. Haha!

That's about all for echinoderms for this post. We saw many molluscs on this trip as well!

Yay! A first sighting for me on this trip will be the China moon snails (Natica onca). There were quite a number of them found on this trip! The foot of this pretty snail has a white net-like pattern while the front part of the body has four rows of orange or pink spots. These moon snails are among the prettiest that we can find in Singapore. 

I like this moment where a pair of these moon snails were found side by side.

But the most amazing behaviour of these moon snails will be their ability to carry Button snail shells! We saw quite a number of them doing this. I do not exactly know why.

Another special snail that was found in quite a good number will be the Grey bonnet snails (Phalium glaucum). This particular individual was busy feeding on the Cake sand dollar (Arachnoides placenta).

Don't you think the white part of the mantle of this snail looks like an egg white? Which is why this snail is called the Egg-white moon snail (Polinices albumen). It could have looked more than an egg if the shell is more orangey (which most shells of this species are).

Slugs are like snails without shells. And we love slugs because they are so endearing. Ria found a couple of special nudibranchs such as this Dendrodoris nigra.

And also this Spotted foot nudibranch (Discodoris lilacina).

Geraldine spotted this Emerald Stiliger slug (Stiliger smaragdinus). It's the second time I see it! This slug lives and feeds on seaweed. In the process, it will retain the algae colour pigments in its digestive system. The pigments colour the slug and thus make it looking like part of seaweed!

Chay Hoon the slug queen found a threesome of Gymnodoris nudibranchs (Gymnodoris sp.).

While my threesome slug find will be the super-huge-and-you-cannot-miss-it Forskal's sidegill slugs (Pleurobranchus forskalii). They have been around in Cyrene Reef for some time already.

Not a slug but also black, this is the Starry flatworm (Pseudobiceros stellae). We saw quite a number of them among the seagrasses.

This anemone looks rather unfamiliar to me and I don't know the identity.

A special find of the trip will be this rare Masked burrowing crab (Family Corystidae) that I've never seen before! 

It's kind of bittersweet because of its elusive nature. When I first saw this crab, I was taking some preliminary photos of this fellow with my DSLR. And when my eyes went away to check on the photos on the spot, the crab did an instant hide and seek and was later nowhere to be seen. It has lived up to its name.

This long fish is a Sand diver (Family Trichonotidae) and I've also never seen it before! Again, it was bittersweet because it seems to have recently died. The only "happy" person must be Ivan because he can use this for his Monday Morgue.

That's all for this year's sleep madness of waking up at unearthly hours though deep within ourselves we still prefer morning tides as the animals are much more active at this time period.

More photos of this trip here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/koksheng/archives/date-taken/2011/08/30/

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