Sunday, April 15, 2012
What a splendid way to begin the Easter Sunday with a trip to St John's Island to explore the marvellous reefs and marine life of Singapore.
Of course we were greeted with a glorious sunrise which also signifies new hope through the resurrection of Christ on this special day. Interestingly, the sunrise from this angle of the island was from the direction of Lazarus Island.
Despite our outreaches and sharing through social media, many Singaporeans are still unaware that we have coral reefs just 15-20 minutes from the city centre.
Thankfully, the tide for this trip was lower than expected and I managed to catch a glimpse of the colourful and crowded reef at the reef edge.
Glad to know that this section of the reef is still doing well with an assortment of hard corals, soft corals, sponges and zoanthids etc.
This portion of the reef is thickly dominated with Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea). It was difficult navigating along this stretch to prevent trampling on the fragile and rich shore.
There were many other species of corals such as this Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) where the tentacles fluff out in a manner similar to anemones. That explains for its name.
Many of the anemone corals are found close to each other side by side. They look like boulders when they are out of the water.
Other hard corals spotted include this Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia sp.).
And also this Tongue mushroom hard coral (Herpolitha sp.). The circular mushroom corals were also sighted.
A special nem find for St John's Island. Probably the first record of the Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) on this shore! Weird that we have not seen it before previously. Did this anemone float in from somewhere?
I also came across this small Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) among the reefs.
There were quite a number of different types of flatworms found on the shore. One of which will be this graceful looking Orange-edged black flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis).
This eel/snake-looking creature is actually a fish. To be exact, its name is the Carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens). The patterns on its body does help the fish camouflage among the colourful reefs.
James found a Red feather star (Class Crinoidea) with a commensal maroon shrimp that Chay Hoon had previously also spotted at Hantu recently. The small shrimp is rather dark in colour and it has bright orange stripes that run along the body.
Here is a view of the reef with the two Sisters Island at the back and the moon setting.
Another stretch of shore that we had a look will be the lagoon and the tiny shore outside of the seawall.
There were quite a number of exciting sightings such as this brightly dotted Gymnodoris nudibranchs (Gymnodoris rubropapulosa).
Rene and Jerome found this tiny wenny sap-sucking slug (Thuridilla gracilis) which I have not seen for some time already.
I was trying to locate the knobbly sea star in the lagoon but I couldn't find it. Instead, I stumbled upon the fanciful looking Clear sundial snails (Architectonica perspectiva)!
Another critter found in the lagoon will be this Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra) which was in the process of burrowing itself. This is the type of sea cucumber that is eaten during Chinese New Year after processing.
'Tis the season for love and mating... Many of the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) were in mating position, ready for the release of eggs and sperms into the surrounding.
A special find on this shore will be our first sighting of the Painted sand star (Astropecten sp.) on our southern shores. These sea stars are very common on our northern shores. Thanks Ria for finding it!
Quite a number of these leafy-looking unidentified flatworms were found among the tiny blades of spoon seagrass. Indeed very well camouflaged and hidden!
This Phlegm flatworm must be the biggest that we have ever came across!
While looking around the seagrassy areas, I saw this tiny jellyfish lurking among the shallow tide pools.
As there was some time left, I crossed over to the last stretch of shore on the other side of the jetty. There are many branching Montipora corals (Montipora sp.)!
Here is another view of the same minefield of corals with Lazarus Island at the background. As the tide was coming in, I didn't have the time to look for seahorses among the branching corals.
It was a surprise for me to come across this motionless Burrowing snake-eel (Pisodonophis crancrivorous)! It later swam away with the incoming tide.
While we gathered back on higher grounds before leaving the island, we saw many burst balloons laid out on the grass beside the seashore.
These materials can pose a threat to our marine life because they can be swallowed by sea turtles which mistake these for jellyfish, according to a study by the Earthwatch Turtles in Trouble program.
We didn't understand why these litters were left there by irresponsible shore users. It only took Ria, Nicole and myself 5 minutes to pick them up. Here are the two packets worth of thrash that we collected.
There are turtles, dolphins, sea otters and other mammals on our waters and we hope they will continue to thrive for many more years to come. Let us be socially conscious of our actions and take effort to practice responsibility in our daily living.