Saturday, December 26, 2015

Slugs explosion at Cyrene Reef

Happy Boxing Day! We are back at one of our most favourite shores, Cyrene Reef.

Thank God for the lovely and windy weather with no threat of rain. Cyrene Reef remains beautiful as usual with lots of sea stars and other critters.

One of our first sights after we set foot on this reef would be to see so many of these maroon "blobs" on the seagrass meadow.

Apparently, there's an explosion of the Forskal's sidegill slug (Pleurobranchus forskalii) as they are in season again! Not the first time in Cyrene. One can find them in various sizes and shades of orange to red. These slugs can become quite slimy as a form of defense mechanism, so do not touch them as it can be quite annoying to both yourself and the slug. 

Here's an underwater shot of the bright red Forskal's sidegill slug beside a long black blob. What's that?

It's actually a tailed slug, probably Chelidonura sp. They are usually found clustered around the same area among the seagrass. Tailed slugs have a long, cylindrical body with a pair of 'wings' (called parapodia) which fold over the centre of the body as well as a pair of 'tails, one longer than the other.

Chay Hoon found another type of tailed slug, likely the Reticulated tailed slug (Philinopsis reticulata).

And Ria showed me her find of yet another tailed slug with lots of white dots on its body. Think it's my first time seeing it. I'm not sure of its identity though.

Without fail, Chay Hoon found new slugs! They do not look colourful so I salute her for being able to find these small and cryptic-looking slugs.

Here's another new slug find, a little more flurry that the previous one. Will share their identities after our nudi expert shed some light.

As for me, my eyes are only good at spotting larger slugs such as this Spotted foot nudibranch (Tayuva lilacina).

When I first found this Extraordinary sea hare (Aplysia extraordinaria), it was almost burrowed into the sand. This sea hare releases purple ink when disturbed. It can swim by flapping its parapodia.

Today we saw lesser number of ther larger Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) while the juveniles are still doing well among the seagrass. These sea stars have been seen to migrate from an area to another over time.

I only managed to find one Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus). Unfortunately, this sea star has lost an arm and is slowly regenerating a new one.

This Asparagus flowery soft coral (Nephthea sp.) is home to several Tiny colourful brittle stars (Ophiothela danae). The bright orange ones are a lot more easier to spot.

There were two of these Long spined black sea urchins (Diadema sp.) among the seagrass.

Marcus found a cute juvenile Mosaic reef crab (Lophozozymus pictor) which is not too red yet! This crab is actually the most poisonous crab in Singapore. There are several documented deaths caused by eating this crab as cooking does not destroy the toxins. The crab is believed to obtain the toxins from the food it eats.

This goby speckled with purple and red spots on its body was found stranded. I am not sure of what it is exactly.

All too soon, the sun set and it was about time to leave! We will be back early next year for another survey.

That's all for our intertidal trips for 2015. Here's wishing all a joyous 2016 ahead!

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