Saturday, May 3, 2014

Turtles, fishies and more at Kusu Island

Kusu Island is also known as Turtle Island because of the legend where a magical giant turtle turning itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors. Today the island houses Malay shrines and a chinese temple and is also a destination for rest and relax.

Beside the temple, there is a lagoon where turtle live in and as the waters were shallow due to the low spring tide, we were able to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures!

This is another of the same type of turtle known as the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The Hawksbill turtle is critically endangered and they usually are found near coral reefs, lagoons, bays and estuaries.

There were about at least 5 turtles in the lagoon and this one swimming with a remora attached to its carapace is likely to be a Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). These two species are most commonly encountered ones that we can find in our local waters.

The team was at Kusu Island on a morning trip to explore the reefs situated very close to the heart of our city. We were surveying the shore during Labour day holiday to check how it is doing especially after the oil spill earlier this year.

At the lowest tide, a wide array of highly densed corals and associates outside the seawall was exposed!

There are many types of corals, both common and uncommon, that can be found at Kusu Island. I'm pleasantly surprised to find this large Brain coral (Family Mussidae). Compare the size of this coral as compared to the other hard corals beside.

And nearby I also found a small colony of the uncommon Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi).

Found in a crevice among the corals and the rubble would be this charming Arabian cowrie (Cypraea arabica). These cowries are usually found in reefy habitats.

How about the swimming lagoon inside the seawall? Much of the marine life has crept back and one would still be able to also find many corals of different shapes and colours in the lagoon.

We came across a huge patch of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.)! Here's a photo with Rene and Jonathan to show the expanse of the corals.

The corals look very pretty with shades of green and purple. The anemone corals have longer polyps and tentacles, thus may sometimes be mistaken as true anemones.

Speaking of anemones, there are some of these small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in various shades of green. 

There were also many Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) and this particular one has caught many tiny fish for its breakfast.

Here's a closer look at the tiny fish. The carpet anemones have stinging tentacles that would paralyze their prey so that it would later move them towards its mouth in the centre for its meal.

This tiny fish with a bright blue spot and blue lines on its head might be a young Threespot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus). This fellow was quite a challenge to photograph.

Originally thought to be just a darkened spot on the sand, this tiny Sole fish is bluish grey and I have not seen it before. I wonder who is its sole-mate... :)

Marcus found this large Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus) that was well camouflaged with the sand and algae.

The coolest part of this flathead would be what seems to be their golden eyelashes. Those "eyelashes" are actually 6-9 skin tentacles over their eyes.

Another pretty fishy find would be the Kuiter's dragonet (Dactylopus kuiteri) which is decorated elaborately. This fish was recently identified as a new record for Singapore,

We also came across the Slender seamoth (Pegasus volitans). The seamoth has large 'wings' which are its pectoral fins, and a long stiff pointed snout that is made up of modified nose bones. That probably explains why it looks like a moth.

Interestingly, the seamoth was found beside a semi-buried horseshoe crab. Geraldine later shared that there was not one but two horseshoe crabs that were found.

A surprise for Kusu would be the first record for this shore- the Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum). They are known to either feed on sea urchins or sand dollars.

There were many sea hares on the seagrasses in the swimming lagoon! I'm not too confirmed on what this species is. Could it be a Spotted sea hare (Aplysia oculifera)?

More sea hares of the seagrasses at Kusu and this is likely to be the Extraordinary sea hare (Aplysia extraordinaria).

The Dawn flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis) seems to be in season as we spotted them both near reefs and also among the seagrasses.

I was glad to still find the Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis). It was initially found to be buried in the sand with one end sticking out.

The mats of zoanthids at the shore nearer to the chinese temple are colourful as usual with soft corals found interspersed.

The Button zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.) are indeed pretty when we take a closer look at them as they come in shades of brown, green, orange etc.

Awesome to know that the small Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) found in January is still surviving!

Signs of the the aftermath of the oil spill can still be seen, especially when we dig on the sand to see what lies beneath. Let's hope that the shore will recover.

Our drone commander, Pei Yan launched the drone off to its maiden southern shore exploration after sunrise!

Here's a look at the drone rising up the altitudes to take an aerial video of the shores of Kusu. You can watch the video uploaded by Pei Yan here!

It's amazing how we can use our smartphone to have a live view of what the drone is recording from high. Hopefully I will get to pick some skills from Pei Yan soon on how to operate the drone.

Departing the island, we were greeted with good visibility as the tide returned. Till next time, Kusu!

2 comments:

Arjun K. said...

Were these turtles wild or captive?

Kok Sheng Loh said...

Hello, I'm not sure.

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