Friday, February 20, 2015

CNY Day 2: Little Sister's Island

On the second day of Chinese New Year, we visited Little Sister's Island! It has been close to 3 years since we set foot on the shores of Little Sister's though we have been visiting the Big Sister's a lot more.

Once again, we were blessed with good and cooling weather and there was even a lovely sunset which I missed. Here's a look at the shores and jetty Little Sister's Island with Big Sister's Island on the right.

What's Little Sister's without the crinoids? The Feather stars (Order Comatulida) are still thriving on the reefs and some of the Red feather stars (Himerometra robustipinna) are found perched on hard corals like this one.

While at the deeper ends, I found another two Red feather stars found on top of the Barrel sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria).

I also came across two of these Brown feather stars with nice banding patterns on its arms and a white "ring" close to its mouth.

Samuel found something interesting on this brown feather star. I didn't notice until he told me!

It's a tiny commensal crab which is banded just like the feather star! It is indeed very well camouflaged. I have not seen this type of commensal crab before and here I have yet another first. :)

This hard coral found near the jetty is the Bracket mushroom coral (Podabacia sp.). I like the intricate patterns on the surface of this coral.

Outside the mouth of the smaller lagoon are thick growths of Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea) and some Favid hard corals (Family Faviidae).

Some parts of the reef look quite colourful with growths of different types of sponges and soft coral.

Chay Hoon found this anemone that looks like the Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor).

On the bloom of Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) is this Dawn flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis).

The Dawn flatworm later went swimming and it swam by undulating the sides of their bodies with its underside facing up. Looks very graceful!

A special flatworm sighting would be this Red lined flatworm (Maritigrella virgulata) which we don't often see. I forgot when was the last time I came across this fellow.

Apparently, Maritigrella flatworms eat ascidians by sucking out individual animals with their gut that can be pushed out through the mouth to engulf the prey.

Only Chay Hoon is good at finding tiny slugs! It was her who showed me this tiny Dermatobranchus nudibranch (Dermatobranchus sp.). 

What a pleasant surprise to find the Varicose phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidia varicosa)! It is bigger than the other usual phyllid nudibranchs that we see. And it is just so beautiful with its bright colours!

On the higher sandy shores of the lagoon are many of these Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).

The Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis) is usually found on sandy habitats and I usually find them with its mouth sticking out from the ground.

There were many Black-lipped conch (Canarium urceus) at the lagoon and they have distinctive eye stalks sticking out of their shell peering at what's happening around.

On the high shore, Pei Yan was looking at this Tiger beetle (Family Cicindelidae). She told me that it is much easier to take photos of them in the night time.

An unexpected find on land would be this recently dead Barn Owl (Tyto alba). The head looks like it was smashed and we wondered if it flew and hit a tree.

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