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!