Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CNY Day 2: St John's Island

Day two's trip on the Lunar New Year was a miracle! The "water snake" or rain storm that swept the north east of Singapore did not come down to the southern at St John's Island.

On top of having a rain free trip, we were blessed with a spectacular sunset over the horizon with the two Sister's Islands at the background.

Here's a look at the setting sun before it went below the horizon.

The bright setting sun created a bright glow over the rocky shores of St John's Island. The sunlight was even reflected on one of the tall buildings at the CBD area, which is only 15 minutes boat ride away from natural reefs of Singapore.

For the first time, some of us decided to venture a little further down the rocky shore and we came across this rocky cliff by the edge of the water with clean white sand. This landscape is so not Singapore! 

Here's a look at the same coastal cliff with the cityscape in the background... I'm sure many Singaporeans do not know that we do have awesome natural landforms so near to our urbanised areas.

There are many interesting sightings on the rocky shore such as this first sighting (for me) which Ria found among the zoanthids.  This Variegated sundial (Heliacus variegatus) was first seen by Chee Kong on Cyrene Reef.

A distinctive feature of this special snail is that it has a conical or pointy operculum (trap door) at the opening of the shell. These snails can sometimes be easily dismissed as the common turban snails... so we should look closely at snails near zoanthids in the future to find them.

It's great to see Sankar in action after he was enlisted for BMT. He found this Spotted moon snail (Natica gualteriana) which we seldom see on our shores. 

Chay Hoon shared with me her find of this very beautiful Chiton (Class Polyplacophora) which has intricate patterns and colours on its shell. These creatures cling on tenaciously onto hard rock surfaces.

Underneath rocks, I found a pair of these Scintilla clams (Family Galeommatidae). These clams with projections and a long foot can move quite quickly!

There are some a number of interesting slug findings such as this large Platydoris nudibranch (Platydoris scabra) which we do not commonly see on our shores.

Another relatively big slug would be this Spotted-foot nudibranch (Discodoris lilacina).

Among the seagrasses, Ria found this small Bornella nudibranch (Bornella sp.) which seems very fitting with the Chinese New Year season.

On top of the usual types of flatworms, I also managed to find this handsome flatworm that looks like the Three stripe flatworm (Pseudoceros tristriatus) with only one stripe. 

Sam found this flamboyant Extraordinary sea hare (Aplysia extraordinaria) which swims by flapping its parapodia (wing-like structure).

These curious eyes peeking out from the shell belong to the Spider conch (Lambis lambis). It is quite amusing to see how they move by limping on the shore through their modified pointy operculum.

What is this lump? Is it even a living thing? Yes, this is a very well camouflaged Spider crab (Micippa philyra) that Sankar found on the rocky shore. 

As the tide slowly crept back to the shore, we went over to the sandy lagoon to have a quick look. There are many animals on the shore such as this pair of goby and snapping shrimp which both live in the same burrow.

With keener eyesight, the goby keeps a look-out while the shrimp busily digs out and maintains their shared home. The shrimp is literally constantly in touch with the goby with at least one of its antennae always on the goby. When the goby darts into the burrow, the shrimp is right behind it!

The team spent some time peering into the seagrassy areas to look out for small marine critters and we were rewarded with some great finds such as this Elbow crab (Family Parthenopidae)...

A tiny seagrass pipefish...

 Many of these Crescent perch (Terapon jarbua)...

 Tiny Swimming crab (Family Portunidae)...

And also a juvenile Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra) which is sometimes also known as sandfish sea cucumber.

One more CNY field trip to go this evening and I'm hoping that the weather will continue to be kind to us. :)

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