Friday, June 5, 2015

Kusu Island: Marine garden in the city

Our second trip of this series of low tide was dedicated to Kusu Island, which is only 15-20 mins boat ride away from Marina South Pier.

It's amazing that we have spectacular natural reefs situated very close to the city centre as shown in this photo of hard corals and the skyscrapers in the background. Indeed, the shores of Kusu Island is like a marine garden in the city.

We began the trip at 5 plus am where most people are likely to be still asleep or about to wake up. The lights from the city centre are very prominent.

What's special about Kusu Island would be the abundance of the Magnificent sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica) on the reef.

Once in a while, you would notice that the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) plays peek-a-boo with you among the anemone tentacles.

There still remains a good variety and abundance of hard corals at the edge of the reef. They range from Montipora corals (Montipora sp.), Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.), Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), Acropora corals (Acropora sp.), Circular mushroom corals (Fungia sp.), Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora) and Euphyllid coral (Family Euphyllidae).

At certain parts, one can find thick growths of the Plate montipora corals (Montipora sp.) and Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea).

This is how the reef looks like with the Plate montipora corals and Blue corals with the city landscape in the background.

There are also a good number of the branching Acropora corals (Acropora sp.) interspersed along the entire reef flat.

In addition to the hard corals mentioned earlier, there are also good representations of Lettuce hard corals (Pavona sp.) on the shore.

As it was still dark, the Reef octopuses were active and I came across one that was changing colour from black to white and so on and so forth!

I was excited to find the Arabian cowrie (Cypraea arabica) holding tenaciously onto the rock surface. It is a huge and pretty cowrie that we don't often see on our reefs.

And thereafter, I realised there is an explosion of these cowries! I saw a total of 10 on one trip! This is record-breaking.

Also abundant on the reefs would be these Ornate leaf slugs (Elysia ornata). I believe it's a seasonal thing.

Marcus found the Saron shrimp (Family Hippolytidae)! It's been a while since we last saw this cryptic-looking shrimp.

The other trippers found a large and smaller version of the Slender seamoth (Pegasus volitans). So cute!!

On the reef edge, there were some of the Bulb-tentacled sea anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) and this one is occupied by the Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus).

Today's tide was longer and lower than expected! Thus, for the first time, I decided to properly check out the reefs along the side where the jetty is located.

Right at the reef edge are some large coral colonies ans also Barrel sponges (Xestospongia testudinaria). There are also Feather stars (Order Comatulida) perched onto either corals or barrel sponges. 

On the jetty legs are several of these Cave corals (Tubastrea sp.). The polyps of the cave corals lack symbiotic algae (zooxanthallae) and usually only expand at night to feed on plankton.

Beneath the water surface is a whole new world! This is a shot showing what's found at the jetty leg. There are several corals and sponges and plenty of Red feather stars (Class Crinoidea)! Though the visibility at Kusu is not as clear, one can still make out that the reefs are awesome.

At certain stretches of the shore, there are lots of corals and occasionally decorated with the graceful-looking feather stars.

I also came across some colonies of the Carnation corals (Pectinia sp.) which I didn't see on the side nearer the lagoon.

Looking at these photos of feather stars and hard corals in the blue waters of Kusu makes me feel proud that these are not shots taken from snorkeling trips overseas but they are from our own waters. In fact, I didn't have to snorkel to take these photos today.

This shot of a large and small Barrel sponge looks like a castle in an underwater city.

The Stinging hydroids in the murky waters somehow creates a snow-like effect!

This underwater photo of the Cerianthid (Order Ceriantharia) also looks good despite it not being in clear waters.

I came across the Blue dragon nudibranch (Pteraeolidia ianthina) on this reef.

Before leaving the island, Marcus and I checked out the turtles in the lagoon beside the temple. The Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are still doing well. 

Just before the boat arrived, we saw this huge orange jellyfish floating with the incoming tide! It's probably our first time seeing it and we wonder what exactly this fellow is.

More underwater shots taken today can be viewed from my facebook album:

1 comment:

GSE said...

sweet pictures, love seeing the acros

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