Saturday, April 9, 2016

St John's Island's underwater garden

It's our first predawn trip of the year and I'm trying to adjust to having to wake up at wee hours again! We are back at St John's Island this time.

The best part of today's trip would be to survey the rich reef edge of the island. This is something that requires both good low tide and daylight to happen. In addition, there must be any boat movement around to stir the sediments and good visibility also helps!

The previous time I did such a "half-snorkeling" attempt at St John's was 6 years ago!

Today I survey a further stretch of reef edge and found stunning growths of hard corals such as this bed of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).

There's even some of these uncommon Ringed plate coral (Pachyseris sp.)!

Underneath the jetty are some of the large and intimidating-looking Long-spined black sea urchins (Diadema setosum).

This photo was also taken underneath the jetty of St John's Island. Doesn't it look like I was diving? :)

And this shot shows the Barrel sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria) together with the surrounding corals.

This bed of Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) is really huge! And there's also the Lettuce hard coral (Pavona sp.).

Just like the Turbinaria Corals (Turbinaria sp.) shown in this photo, the hard corals are doing ok and are not bleaching.

What a lovely surprise to find the Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) in the
Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica). They are really cute.

And here's a video of the two lively anemonefishes frolicking among the tentacles of the anemone.

I also came across the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) on the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).

With the outgoing tide, many different types of fish were trapped in the tide pool. And you can see that they are quite active as it was still dark before sunrise.

I managed to catch a glimpse of this huge Carpet eel blenny (Congrogadus subducens) snacking on a fish! It was a quick act.

Like the fishes, the Reef octopus was quite active in the dark.

I crossed over to the rocky shore to check out the reef at the lowest tide. Representatives of hard and soft corals are still around but my general sensing is that the reef is not as rich as before.

Chay Hoon found this pretty pair of the Red-tipped flatworm (Pseudoceros bifurcus) among the rubble. 

Literally, the star find of today's trip would be 4 of these adorable-looking Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)! Great to know they are still thriving here.

It was a quiet yet rejuvenating predawn trip out at St John's while everyone's still asleep. The shore is just a 15-20 min boat ride away from city centre, yet it's so quiet and charming.

More photos of the trip here:

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