Thursday, June 4, 2015

Delightful echinoderms at Changi

It's always a delight to find lots of echinoderms ranging from sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, brittle stars etc on the shores of Changi.

The seagrass meadows of Changi shore are excellent nursery ground for marine life to thrive!

We occasionally find juvenile Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) on this shore and I was excited to see 5 of them today.

Here's a collage of 4 of the 5 knobbly sea stars that Chay Hoon and I came across this morning. We seldom see the adult versions on Changi though. They may have moved down to deeper waters as they grow older.

The 5th knobbly sea star is actually my most favourite! It is pretty in bright green and has pominent brownish knobs on its surface. Unfortunately, one of the arms has been chomped off before and now is in the process of regeneration.

There are many small Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) littered on the seagrass meadows and this special individual has pretty maroon edges in between arms.

This bright orange sea star is the juvenile version of the Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera).

There are also many of the Plain sand stars (Astropecten indicus) and Painted sand stars (Astropecten sp.) roaming on the sandy and seagrass habitats of the shore. They are generally a lot more active at night and would burrow into the sand during day time.

Though we feel that the shore has changed to become higher with more seagrasses covering over pre-existing sand bars, what is still familiar of this shore would be the numerous White sea urchins (Salmacis sp.).

Another familiar feature of this stretch of Changi would be the presence of sea cucumbers such as the Pink warty sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps).

There were quite a number of this unidentified Beige sea cucumbers.

As of this Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra), I only came across 2 on this trip.

Other than sea cucumbers, there was a profusion of Brittle stars dotting the shore today! This is not something we often witness on our surveys here.

Also abundant among the seagrasses would be the Elbow crabs (Family Parthenopidae).

There was one mama elbow crab of a different species that was carrying eggs! The surface of this type of elbow crab is encrusted with different stuffs and that helps the crab to be more camouflaged.

At the water's edge during the low spring tide, there are some large Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). 

Though the Hairy sea hares (Bursatella leachii) that we came across on the shore are usually solitary, I stumbled upon this group of them congregating.

A special snail found on the shore would be this bullet-shaped Mitre snail (Family Mitridae). I only saw one though.

This Miliaris cowrie (Cypraea miliaris) is usually found on hard surfaces such as rocks or jetty legs. It is uncommon to find them on sandy and seagrassy surfaces.

Ria found this special yet tiny slug among the seagrass! It is known as Antonietta cf. janthina. Many thanks to Chay Hoon for the id. This is my first time seeing this nudibranch.

Marcus saw this yet also tiny crab, which is likely to be a different kind of pebble crab.

Today's sunrise was beautiful with two UFO-looking cloud formation over the horizon.

We are kind of used to the planes flying above us when surveying this lovely shore. That's all for today and we will be heading to a southern island tomorrow for yet another adventure!

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