Monday, August 11, 2014

Simple Serenity at Southern Semakau

Following my last blog post on Southern Semakau entitled "Sunny Sunday out at Southern Semakau", I will continue to use the 4 "S"s for the title for this blog post- Simple Serenity at Southern Semakau. :)

The dawn over Southern Semakau yesterday morning was a warm sight that greeted us as we ended the trip at first light.

This was also the scene that welcomed us during last year's National Day field trip- a scene that doesn't involves fireworks or skyscrapers. This kind of serenity is what I hope to continue having in Singapore in the years to come. Places where we totally escape from the busyness of the urban lifestyle.

We were on this survey trip to check out the health of the shore and also assess the extent of coral bleaching at the reefs. The first animal that I came across immediately after landing would be this Polka-dot jorunna nudibranch (Jorunna funebris) and it was also the only nudibranch I saw on the trip.

Surprisingly, there were many of these rare Masked burrowing crabs (Gomeza sp.) among the seagrass. Looks like they are all having a post-NDP party! Haha!

The substrate and habitat at Southern Semakau does remind us of northern shores and the stretches near the seawall are home to the Fire anemones (Actinodendron sp.). They come in different colours!

Another unique feature of this shore would be that there are many Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea)!

Some of which we can find False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) swimming among the tentacles of the Giant carpet anemones. These nemos are very cute!

Marcus and Russel found the False stonefish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus). Think it's my first time blogging about this fish. It is named as such because it looks like a stonefish but it is a scorpionfish that can also inflict painful stings.

I came across this large Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus) resting among the seagrass.

And later on, I stumbled upon yet another one which is very much larger! The flathead is carnivorous, feeding on creatures that live on the sea bottom.

How are the hard corals doing? Most of them are alright with little or no signs of bleaching! I like this shot of corals with seagrasses.

Here's a collage of the various types and forms of hard corals that I came across on the trip. This shore is not very reefy but there still is a good representation of the common species found on Southern shores.

Another aim of the trip is to try and find the elusive Galloping sea star (Stellaster equistris). Pei Yan found one last year but I only managed to see numerous of the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).

The Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) are still there and it is nice to see the smaller ones as it tells us that the population at Semakau is sustainable with young ones still growing on the shore.

For some reason, there were many Dragonfish sea cucumbers (Stichopus horrens) at Southern Semakau. These sea cucumbers are usually not found elsewhere and my impression is that there were not so many of them during our last trip here.

Another common sea cucumber found on this shore would be the Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra).

The Black long sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) is not common at Semakau though it is easily found at other Southern shores. Only one was sighted on this trip.

Another sea cucumber found would be this Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis).

This Silt flatworm looks like mobile snot! They are slightly translucent and is usually well camouflaged unless they start moving. That was how I found it. 

The Upsidedown jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.) are usually only sighted at Semakau shore. This jellyfish harbours microscopic, single-celled algae (called zooxanthellae) inside its body and tentacles which undergo photosynthesis to produce food from sunlight. That is probably why the tentacles are facing upwards.

This Black frogfish (Family Antennariidae) blends well on the sandy area, looking like just another encrusted rock or black blob.

How this fish feeds is very cool- it lurks in wait for passing prey. The frogfish has a "bait" on its spine in between its eyes and just infront of its huge mouth, which it wiggles to lure unsuspecting prey to come closer!

Talking about feeding, Jianlin and I witnessed the feeding of a Dog-faced water snake (Cerberus rynchops)!

The snake was feeding on a fish that it had caught for breakfast and it is capable of opening its mouth quite widely to munch on its meal.

Pei Yan had somehow inherited the microscopic traits of Chay Hoon by finding this unknown sea hare on the sargassum seaweed!

This unidentified shrimp was also seen on the trip! We have no idea what it is.

The trip ended with a beautiful dawn with a pinkish glow at the background! Till next time!

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