Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cyrene Reef with Teamseagrass

Our last Teamseagrass monitoring of the year was held on the first week of December at Cyrene Reef! Our December trips are more tricky because of the rainy season.

Nevertheless, the scary rainclouds and not-so-positive weather forecast did not deter the intrepid seagrass troopers from launching out to the reef through amphibious landing.

After a transfer to the dinghy, here we go towards the sand bar landing zone of Cyrene Reef. Look at the clouds!

Here's another shot to show the extent of the dark clouds over our heads as we made our landing.

Somehow, the rain did not hit us soon after we landed and we were spared from the heavy rain that taking place very close to us. We only had some mizzles at certain moments of the survey. Thank God for that!

Therefore, the gang was able to be dispatched and continue with seagrass monitoring. This photo shows how close Cyrene Reef is to Bukom and the amazing fact that nature and development can coexist.

After we have finished our monitoring, we had some time left to walk around and have a look at the shore.

Cyrene Reef is one of the last places in Singapore where you can find lots of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus).

Sijie brought his students to have a look at Cyrene Reef and they had a great time exploring and marveling at the huge charismatic sea stars.

Among the many knobbly sea stars, sometimes we do stumble upon the Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus) as shown on the top left photo of the collage.

A first time sighting for me would be to witness the moulting process of this Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus).

Crabs have a hard external skeleton and need to shed their exoskeleton in order to grow bigger. This process is called moulting and it is also how soft-shell crabs come about. It was exciting to see how the bigger crab crawled out of its smaller shell. And its new shell was soft when I touched it!

On the sandy area, I came across a few of these Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) that has snake-like and long tentacles.

This snaky sea anemone is brown instead. They do come in various colours.

With Chay Hoon, we will be able to find sea slugs! She found an area with lots of these Ornate leaf slugs (Elysia ornata).

In the same area, we saw more slugs such as this Denison's nudibranch (Dendrodoris denisoni). I later saw another of this slug with the seagrass.

We also saw a few of these huge maroon Forskal's sidegill slugs (Pleurobranchus forskalii) which can be seasonally common at Cyrene. These slugs are known to feed on ascidians, which arethe green blobs in this photo.

The top find of the day would be these black longish slugs with tinge of blue by its edge. It's our first time seeing them! Thanks to Chay Hoon for the id, these are likely Chelidonura sp.

Here's a collage of the slug in various positions. Though it looks unassuming in black, this fellow releases a brown dye that stains if you touch it! It is used as a defense mechanism.

All too soon, the ending of the trip was marked with an incoming rain which came in on time because we were leaving. Here's a group photo of the seagrassers!

And another livelier one with my flash, thus reflecting on their life jackets. Haha!

And there we go, another awesome adventure out on a submerged reef on a rainy day. Kudos to everyone for the hard work.

More photos of the trip here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/koksheng/archives/date-taken/2013/12/03/

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