Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Feather star and coral garden at Big Sisters' Island

The last trip for the week has proven to be a pleasant surprise as Ivan and I stumbled upon great visibility in an underwater feather star and coral garden. It is our first time exploring this stretch of the shore!

Here's an underwater photo showing you a glimpse of the wonderful sight of the rich reefs off Big Sisters' Island. Can you spot the three feather stars in this photo?

From another angle, this is a shot of the reef with yet another three Feather stars (Order Comatulida) from above ground using my DSLR camera.

And nearby, yet another two purplish black feather stars!

One by one, we took lots of photos of the different varieties of feather stars! It is just so amazing that the diversity and abundance of crinoids is just so rich. This looks like the Brown feather star.

This feather star is probably the Black feather star. It has black pinnules on the pale arms- a combination of black and white.

The stunning Red feather stars are more common on our southern shores than the other types of feather stars.

One of my favourite feather stars would be this other version of the the Brown feather star.It has bright yellow and orange bands on their arms.

This looks like the Black feather star but has yellowish arms instead of white arms.

This feather star does not have bands nor is uniform in terms of arm colour. Instead, one half is black while the other is pale in colour (top white, bottom black).

This purplish or black feather star is likely the Purple feather star (Comatula purpurea).

And here's four more different types! Unfortunately, feather stars are not well studied and therefore their identities are still a question mark.

Shifting the focus more towards the coral reef, this was the other surprise of the trip. The corals here are doing well and the different colours indeed has beautified this natural garden.

One of my favourite underwater shots will be this red feather star beside the corals along a sloping ground. Looks like a diving or snorkelling photo but no swimming or diving is needed!

It's really awesome to witness the thick reefs of Big Sisters' Island without having to get totally wet. Here is yet another feather star with a top black and bottom white colour instead.

There are just so many feather stars that many of the underwater photos show signs of them lurking somewhere.

In this Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), there is a Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) swimming among the tentacles!

Higher up on the shore is yet another bubble-tipped anemone that is green in colour. No nemo in this though.

At the reef edge, there are many fishes swimming about! These fishes include the Scissortail sergeants (Abudefduf sexfasciatus), Eightband butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus) and the adult version of the Yellowtail or Vermiculated angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus).

A pair of the Brown sweetlips (Plectorhinchus gibbosus) were swimming around me while I was squatting down in a tide pool.

Underneath rocks are fantastic hiding places for bivalves such as this Scintilla clam (Family Galeommatidae). These clams with projections and a long foot can move quite quickly!

Another pointy clam would be this wonderful find of the Lima file clam (Lima vulgaris). Ria found it underneath a rock as well. By opening and closing their two shells, they can actually move quite fast!

Ria found another file clam with smaller shells and much shorter tentacles. Not too sure is this also the same species as the previous one.

All too soon, the tide returned and we ended the trip on this Hari Raya Puasa holiday. It's the end of the many seasons of low morning spring tides from April to August. Tides from September onwards would be not-so-low... so we will not be out in the field that often. Nevertheless, it's time to catch up with other stuffs in life! :)

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