Monday, February 8, 2016

CNY Day 1: Southern Semakau

Happy Chinese New Year! Annually without miss, we will also be visiting the shores since the low tide and the Lunar New Year are both influenced or predetermined by the moon.

This time, we decide to visit Southern Semakau, a stretch that is not so reefy but has seagrasses and the associated animals that are found on them. We were blessed with good weather as we only had a short sprinkle of rain despite the pessimistic weather forecast.

One of the first few finds on the shore would be this uncommon Strawberry cockle (Fragum unedo). The strawberry cockle has red lines or beads on its shell. you can see its mantle protruding out when relaxed.

We came across quite a number of the Extraordinary sea hares (Aplysia extraordinaria). This sea hare is believed to feed on seagrass. 

Ria later found two of the Black-tailed sea hares (Aplysia dactylomela). The inner side of the parapodia is black with striking white blobs. You can also see its black "tail" in this photo. It is said that when disturbed, this sea hare releases purple ink.

We saw quite a number of Dog-faced water snakes (Cerberus rynchops), commonly found near mangroves. It is not surprising to find this snake here as the shore is right beside the regenerated mangroves.

This snake is quite docile and shy and thus we were able to take close up shots of its "dog-face".

We saw this rare Brown sea cucumber (Bohadschia vitiensis)! This sea cucumber has only been recorded intertidally from Cyrene Reef and Semakau.

Russel found this large Astropecten sea star! It has been sighted before at Changi East, Cyrene Reef and Southern Semakau.

The underside is stunning as this sea star has bright orange tube feet that lines up the entire underside of its arms.

I checked out the rocky shores at the mangroves to look for the Cryptic sea stars (Cryptasterina sp.) and after a short while, I found 4 by flipping a big rock! 

Here's a closer look at each of them with different pattern on its surface. According to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", the cryptic stars live amongst rocks and stones on the upper to mid-shore level. They have a mottled, but variable, colouration which is actually for camouflage to be inconspicuous to predators. That's how their name come from.

I was looking high and low for the Galloping sea star but to no avail. A consolation would be my first sighting of a green juvenile Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) on this shore!

More photos of the trip here:

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