Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cyrene Reef with Team Seagrass, 11 March 2012

Once again Team Seagrass heads off for its regular monitoring of the seagrasses on Cyrene Reef, the ever so beautiful reef that exists amazingly amidst our busy ports. Cloudy morning as we set off on our little vessel! This time I was among a small group to help Siti with her research project on the growth/recovery of seagrasses.

That was the ferry that took the monitoring team..

Work started late but we managed to finish our task in time! Amongst my batches of harvested seagrasses were THREE sea toad spider crabs (Schizophrys sp., Family Majidae)! These became one of my most exciting finds of the day as we did not have much time for exploration after our work was done :(

Earlier along the way to our worksite we saw many Knobbly sea stars and sand dollars. Alas for I did not take any shots of them as I thought I would be able to do so later. Also amongst my batches of harvested seagrasses were two polychaete worms.

All too soon, we had to make our way back to the loading area where we waited for a small powerboat to take us to our vessels. The tide was coming in fast.

Along the way, I took the opportunity to capture the pictures of as many creatures as I could. There were many of the common acorn worms on the sand bed.

This was a white sea urchin amidst some rubble.. Yes, the sea urchins love to camouflage themselves with rubble and debris of all kinds :)

The sand bubbler crabs' signature sand bubble "designs". The sand bubbler crabs are very sensitive to movement and impact and would very quickly "disappear" into their burrows once they sense threat.

The sea was choppy as it began to drizzle. Thankfully everyone got back to land safely! I'm definitely looking forward to future Cyrene trips!

More on the trip for the seagrass monitoring team on Ria's blogpost!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Team Seagrass @ Pulau Semakau, 26 Nov 2011

Once again Team Seagrass heads out to monitor our seagrasses, and this time we spent an afternoon at Pulau Semakau where there is a very healthy population of Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides)!

With us today were many "newbies", which was really heartwarming to see! Warmest welcome to Yuan Chun, Jacyln, and Man Nga, friends of mine who were here for their very first Team Seagrass monitoring session! It was nice to see Yi Shyuan and Jocelyn again, and Andy, whom I haven't seen for sometime.

To get to the monitoring sites, we had to walk through a muddy stretch in the forest (where ferocious blood-hungry mosquitoes lurk). Ria had herself almost totally covered up - literally - but really, those mosquitoes are not to be meddled with!

Lo and behold! The sight that greets us when we're out in the open! :D

Ria led the way to our monitoring sites. She took the many "newbies" under her wing today, while I was allocated Site #2 together with Yen Ling, Regina, Gaytri, Jerome, and Yi Shyuan. As Site #2 has the highest water depth compared to the other Sites #1 and #3, we waited for the tide to turn out, meanwhile checking out the living communities right below us.

On the sandy bed were lots of these yellow stuff which could possibly be a kind of algae..

Yen Ling found this crab which could be the Arrow-head spider crab (Menatheius sp.). This little creature had collected debris (including what looks like some seagrass) as camouflage for itself!

We couldn't find the marking stick for our transect, so Yen Ling and I spent quite sometime determining the best possible spot for it. This also means we started our monitoring the latest! Nonetheless we worked as efficiently as we could in the hope that we could free up sometime to explore the shores later.

Over here, the last ever shot I got from this trip before we started surveying.. and before it rained :(

Unfortunately for us it started to pour when Yen Ling and I were at our last survey quadrant! We had to quickly finish up our monitoring and leave the shore :( I must say it was really quite a bummer that we didn't get the chance to check out the wildlife, but thankfully the rest of the Team Seagrass members managed to get some cool sightings! Among their finds were a seahorse, cuttlefish, flatworms, the Common seastars, anemones, etc. Yi Shyuan managed to capture a really cool video of an octopus swimming away and changing colour in flashes each time it rested at a new spot! Yuan Chun even caught the rare sight of a noble volute together with her egg case which looked like a beautiful chandelier!

So we had our last Team Seagrass monitoring session for the year.. I can't wait for more of such trips next year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cyrene Reef right here in Singapore!

Cyrene Reef is a jem unknown to many, even our own Singaporeans. Yes it is found right here in Singapore! The most amazing fact of Cyrene Reef is that it houses an abundant wildlife including vast seagrass meadows, and is home to a healthy population of adorable Knobby seastars (Protoreaster nodosus), despite being surrounded by petrochemical plants on Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.

Yi Shyuan exploring the reef

We were blessed with good weather throughout our stay on Cyrene Reef indeed, when dark clouds loomed in the distance. Jason spotted our first find of the day - a juvenile Geographic sea hare (Syphonota geographica)! It was frantically swimming away.

Then we saw a lone Knobbly seastar! We couldn't wait to see more of them.

Yi Shyuan found what looked like a Bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis)!

Cyrene Reef is probably the only place in Singapore where you can get an un-obstructed 360 degree view of the skies!

Another Knobbly amongst the seagrasses..

Jason spotted what looked like an Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata).

Crabs can be commonly spotted on Cyrene Reef as well..

The Hairy crabs (family Pilumnidae) are fairly common; nonetheless they are really cute! I call them Teddybear crabs!

A living fan shell..

The sky continues to threaten but as there were no lightning, we continue exploring Cyrene Reef for what it beholds..

The Common seastars are really pretty common; over here a mating pair..

The white sea urchins were pretty common too! They love to cover themselves with debris.

Lying amongst other white sea urchins was this beautiful Thorny sea urchin (Prionocidaris sp.)!

Soon it was time to leave and as we headed back to the boat we found the population of Knobblies! Alas the tide was also turning in so we couldn't get very good shots of these lovely creatures.

As we left Cyrene Reef and got onto the boat safe, it began to drizzle. We were really lucky indeed!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Changi CP1, 4 June 2011

It has been sometime since I last visited Changi Beach (near Carpark 1). We were blessed with good weather on the morning of 4 June '11 when we seized the low tide and checked out this beautiful shore!

Amongst the first creatures we sighted was the leaf porter crab. These hide themselves underneath fallen leaves and you can only detect their presence via "moving" leaves! We upturned this leaf to get a good look of this fascinating crab.

NOTE: Always remember to return the creatures to its original location or orientation after checking them out!

Yuan Chun found this tiny cute little cuttlefish and we all scrambled to take good shots of this shy creature! It actually changed colour from dark brown to orangey-yellow. Alas these were the best I could manage.

This part of Changi beach houses many species of anemones.

The peacock anemones are always a delight to see! They come in many shades of colours. I especially like the pink ones..

and the lovely luminescent ones like this one, that gives a slight greenish glow.

This looks like a juvenile carpet anemone.

There were a few striped bead anemones too.

There were quite a number of species of sea pens on the shore! Early on in the trip, we sighted the flowery sea pens.

The thumbs-up sea squirt stands solitary.

Crabs were everywhere. Though common, these are important scavengers on our shores!

Strangely, we saw quite a number of octopuses that morning. They were all squirting water from the sides of their heads, an amusing sight indeed!

Ball sea cucumbers could be seen as well. This one released some water from its anus!

The thorny sea cucumbers are such beautiful creatures.

Hermit crabs are common too. They are usually very shy.

Soon the sun rose above the horizon!

Yuan Chun has really sharp eyes. One of the many things he spotted during this shore visit was the biscuit sea star!

We saw a couple of these around and initially thought they were a kind of sea cucumber. But no, these are sea pens too! They are the spiky sea pens.

Later on in the trip I found this really tiny anemone. I wonder if it is the juvenile of the swimming anemone!

Then I found this one that looks like a swimming anemone, but it had a distinct bright yellow mouth!

Peacock anemone are really pretty.

Another striped bead anemone.

I have no idea what species this anemone belongs to.

Egg capsules of drills turned purple, so it seems the free-swimming larvae have hatched from them.

Our most exciting find of the day was this Geographic sea hare! It is such a magnificent creature.

Before we left, we found this reef bristleworm stranded up the shore. So we got it back to the waters.

Somebody left this on the shore :)

Good trip, wonderful companions! Here is Jaclyn and Yuan Chun :)