Monday, June 29, 2009

26 June Semakau walk

Time to update this backlog 4 days ago. Glad to finally guide after the past three days of exploratory intertidal trips. I find that guiding is x10 better than just walking around taking pictures.

The sun rose up like a huge egg yolk while we were on the boat and many participants went to take a picture of it.

Definitely one of my favourite groups, the spider conch, after guiding for so long.

Our longest cucumber in the sea, Synaptid Sea cucumber (Synaptidae) is normally found in the seagrasses filtering suspended nutrients in the water.

We also saw a Flower Crab, Portunus pelagicus but unfortunately, it was in caught in a trap.

This Anemone Shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) is commonly found on our Carpet Anemone. Due to its attractive appearance, they are rather popular in the aquarium trade. You can find out more information about this shrimp from my earlier post.

This unidentified brown flatworm is normally found slithering on rocks. Flatworms are all hermaphrodites, having both sexual organs. The term came from the son of the Greek god Hermes and goddess, Aphrodite, called Hermaphroditus. So why did this guy have both sexual organs? Apparently, he was raped by a nymph called Salmacis (thats how the Salmacis urchin genus came about) and they merged to form a single form with both organs.

The adorable Hairy Crab, Pilumnus vespertili is probably the most common crab in the intertidal region.

The Breasted Moon Snail, Polinices mammatus have a tough trapdoor covering over their only opening to prevent predation.

The hunter seekers have been finding these same few Knobbly Sea Stars, Protoreaster nodosus. One of our largest stars here, they can grow up to about 30cm wide.

The Ocellated Sea Cucumber, Stichopus ocellatus have eye spots that seem to me like a pimple with white pus. This is also an edible species.

Hard corals build an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. When out of water, the polyps and tentacles all retract back to their skeletal homes to prevent dessication. This coral is an Anemone Coral, Goniopora sp.

Finally, a tide low enough to see the Giant Clam, Tridacna squamosa. These big shellfishes have zooxanthellae living in their body and play a big part in making their huge shells.

It is quite a while since I last saw the Sandfish Sea Cucumber, Holothuria scabra in Semakau, even though they are relatively common here.

Meiyi managed to find a Noble Volute, Cymbiola nobilis at the reef edge.

Sponges come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. They belong to the Phylum Porifera, meaning "pores", and sea water contain nutrients flow through these holes to be filtered off by sticky threads in the body. This species is probably Haliclona baeri.

As we were walking back from the shore, we were awarded with some aerobatic displays by fighter jets, probably practising for the upcoming national day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beting Bronok

This is my first time going to Beting Bronok. Where exactly is this place? It is located north of our military island Pulau Tekong. In fact, the Malay word "Beting" means sandbar, but more of the submerged land was exposed during this period of very low tide.

Here is a image of the place from Google Earth.

The most distinctive animal that we saw upon arrival are the Pencil Urchins (Prionocidaris sp.) named due to their thick rod like spines.

There were lots of soft corals spreading sparsely about the sandbar. It looked like my most hated vegetables, cauliflower and broccoli except that it comes in pink.

Me and Remus found several little shrimps creeping over the Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). I wonder what species are these that can survive without getting stung by the anemone.

There were many Brown-Spotted Moray Eels (Gymnothorax reevesii) that were stranded on this little island. Some of them were really huge, about a metre long!

However, not all of them were that happy of us taking pictures of them.

Kite Butterflyfishes (Parachaetodon ocellatus) were also a common sight here. They have an eye spot on their tail to fool predators so that they can escape with little harm if their enemies bite on the tail thinking that it was instead a fatal wound to the head.

Samson found this Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber) that came in six arms.

This looks like a Corkscrew Anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) which seemed to be suffering from hair loss. The tentacles are supposed to be long and snakey resembling a corkscrew.

Probably the Lipstick Finger Sponge Crab (Lauridromia indica) due to its pink tipped pincers, these crabs are known to carry a bag of sponge or ascidian using their modified last pair of legs for concealment. However, I saw several bare-back ones that day.

Onyx Cowrie (Cypraea onyx) were also a common sight here and I saw about 20 or so on this trip. Some cowries, especially the money cowrie were used as a form of currency last time.

One of my favourite intertidal animals is the Gong Gong (Strombus turturella) due to their alien like eyes sticking out of the snell peeping at the surroundings shyly.

You can actually see the unique trail made by this edible conch. The little ridges along the trail were due to their pole-vaulting action of their sickle shaped operculum.

This flatworm Pseudoceros laingensis is known to feed on colonial ascidians in an interesting way. It can eviscerate out lines of feeding mouthparts to reach in the zooids of the ascidians to suck out the contents.

This little slug, Polybranchia orientalis feed by sucking the sap from plants or algae. The petal like cerata covering over their body drops off very easily and are sticky to distract any predators.

This pretty nudibranch, Cuthona sibogae seemed to be in season now. I actually found a few of them feeding off their faourite diet, the orange hydroids.

This soft and sandy habitat is an excellent place for many borrowing shells like this frog shell (Bufonaria rana),

and also the gigantic Bailer Shell (Melo melo) that RY found.

He also saw this Haeckeli's Sea Anemone (Actinostephanus haeckeli) known to give a nasty sting.

The sun was out in no time and I managed to take a picture of the neighbouring Bukit Belungkor Kechil in Malaysia.

Soon, the tide came and after saying goodbye to some TMSI staff who were there doing some surveys, we left by the bumboat.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Intertidals at Changi Beach

It is my first time visiting this part of Changi. Seems like no matter which part of this beach we are at, there are always interesting surprises in store for us. Thanks to KS for the invite.

The Thunder Crab (Myomenippe hardwickii) has such huge powerful crushing pincers that it is rumoured that only a clap of thunder can cause it to release its grip.

There were full of Hydroids (Order: Hydroida) in this place and apparently some squid had the foresight to plant her eggs on it. Hydroids sting pretty badly for your information.

There were also lots of Peacock Anemones (Order: Ceriantharia) in this place coming in many colours.

I love taking pictures of these Feather Duster Worms brushing off nutrients in the water.

Sea Pens (Order: Pennatulacea) were quite a common sight here and many feathery tentacles extended from each of them, filtering off tiny food particles in the murky water.

The highlight of the day were definitely the brillant Gorgonians (Order: Gorgonacea) that came in many beautiful colours.

We saw many little creatures like hermit crabs, spider crabs and this Elbow Crab (Parthenopidae) on the sea fans.

This pair of Flower Crabs (Portunus pelagicus) seemed getting ready to mate.

We also saw a few sea stars, like the Eight Armed Star shown here (Luidia maculata).

Another closely related star is this Luidia hardwicki.

The prettiest star to me have to be the Cake Sea Star (Anthenea aspera) with its varying but lustrous colours.

Last but not least, were the huge Biscuit Sea Stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) about 20 cm wide.

There were countless Gong Gong (Strombus turturella) in this sandy soft habitat and I never get tired of photographing them and their peculiar eye stalks.

Named because of its shell, the Tiger Moon Snails (Natica tigrina) were also out in the field looking for other molluscs to feed on.

What I thought as an anemone turned out to be a slug (Polybranchia orientalis). They possessed leaf like cerata that can be dropped off like this "botak" one here.

Feather Stars (Class: Crinoidea) just like Feather duster worms cast their feathery arms about to filter feed.

We found this huge Octopus that has a head about the size of my fist!

This place has lots of big Spider Crabs (Majidae) and we found this about 15cm wide.

I even found a group of them hiding under a huge boulder. They were making strange guggling sounds which I thought came from them trying to restore oxygen circulation to their gills through this bubbling action.
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