Saturday, July 2, 2016

Back at Pulau Tekukor with turtle find

After 6 years, I finally set foot at Pulau Tekukor again! My last survey here was in 2010.

The natural rocky coastline is a prominent feature of this untouched island that sits right across Sentosa and St John's Island.

Though there are not many hard corals at Pulau Tekukor, some of the ones we find there are huge boulder-shaped. And about 60% of all corals we came across were bleaching.

My first sighting of the Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) on this shore. They are named snakey anemones because of their snake-like tentacles that tend to curl. This particular anemone is unfortunately bleached completely.

I later came across more of the same species of anemone and some are still not bleached.

I saw the Leathery anemone (Heteractis crispa) again on this shore, alas this fellow has been bleached too. The leathery anemones have purple tips on their snakey-like tentacles. In addition, they have bumpy prominent verrucae on their whitish body column.

Here's a nice shot of an unbleached Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) underwater with the cliffs on the background!

Other than corals and anemones, we also saw quite a number of interesting critters on the shores of Tekukor. The first to greet me after landing would be the stunning Red feather stars (Himerometra robustipinna).

I don't think I have seen this slender goby-like fish before. It has pretty white dots and bands on its body. Not too sure of its identity.

This peek-a-boo crab is one that we took notice on Cyrene. It hides inside a hole and carries the rock along as the ultimate camouflage. Looks like this fellow is really the king of crab camouflage as compared to the Velcro crab counterpart.

Though it was bright daylight, we were fortunate to see a couple of the Reef octopuses on the shore. They tend to be more nocturnal in nature.

There were a few surprises on this trip such as the find of this pair of Platydoris nudibranch (Platydoris scabra) which we do not commonly see on our shores.

This field trip took place on my birthday and Jianlin gave me a lovely present by finding three Tiger cowries (Cypraea tigris)! This was unexpected! And it's not the first time we see them in a cluster of 3. I wonder why it is 3, not 2 or 4.

According to the Singapore Red Data book, although this cowrie was considered one of the commonest cowries of the Indo-Pacific, and present on Singapore reefs in the past, the tiger cowrie is now exceedingly rare.


Here's a video recorded underwater showing how the cowrie moves. They are really pretty!

Another surprise would be the find of this adult Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)! It's amazing no one spotted it before given that it is not near the reef edge and that it is quite large.

The final surprise would be to stumble upon this Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) that seemed to have died not long ago. I was shocked to find it on the shore with the incoming tide.

The common name of Green turtle arose from the colour of the cartilage and fat deposits around their internal organs. Adults eat mainly or only seagrasses and thus found near coastal areas with seagrass meadows. Juveniles are omnivorous and eat seaweeds, crabs and squid.

We wondered why it died as there were no signs of being strangled or hit. One possibility could be due to consumption of plastic and other materials.

In all, we had a fruitful trip surveying the shore and checking for bleaching. Hope to be able to come back some time soon.

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