Saturday, June 02, 2007

Beautiful St John's

The last time I went to St John's Island was more than a year ago, and thus I had really been looking forward to this trip.

St John's Island has always been one of my favourite shore, as the corals here were really spectacular, and we can usually also find some cute and less common slugs here.

As the boat approached the island, Ria immediately commented that she could smell the fragrance of the tembusu blossom. Indeed, like Sisters Island, the tembusu trees on St John's were also flowering like nobody's business! Hopefully Ria will put up some of the photos she took of the trees. I was too tired by the time there was enough daylight, that I forgot to take photos of the blossom-filled tembusu trees.

Anyway, back to the story, after getting off the boat, we proceeded to the shore area that we usually visit. And the first animal which greeted us was this little land hermit crab. Can you see that even the shell it used was a land snail shell?

Down at the lagoon, Dr Chua and Evelyn found a pufferfish, which some how didn't seem to like me. It got all bloated up when I was moving around it trying to grab some good shots. Heh heh, pai seh, pufferfish. You were just so cute that I couldn't resist the urge to take a few more shots of you.

We saw several filefishes too, and they were somewhat larger than the ones we usually see else where.

There were also a few brown egg crab in the lagoon. These crabs are poisonous, so remember if one unlucky day you got stranded on some island somewhere, don't ever catch and eat them! Or else, for all you know, that may jolly well be your last meal!

I also spotted a stonefish sea cucumber. When you touch it, it felt smooth and a little hard, just like a stone!

Apparently, leaf slugs were in season! We saw many of them on the hairy seaweeds that they feed on. I found this lonely leaf slug on the sand though, probably brought here by the waves?

It was also a sexy night, as I witness two black phyllid nudibranchs mating! Nudibranchs are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning each slug has both male and female reproductive organs. Thus, they often fertilise each other when they mate.

Chay Hoon, who has a talent for spotting small things, found this juvenile blue dragon nudibranch. It was probably also swept to the sandy area by the waves. Poor thing. Will it be able to find its way to the hydroids that it feeds on?

I found a little bubble-tipped anemone among the corals, but couldn't find any tomato anemonefish which sometimes lives with it though.

Like I said earlier, St John's was a wonderful place to see corals. And indeed, I saw corals every where. Many of the hard corals had their tentacles out feeding, like the one below.

Apart from the hard corals, there were plenty of blue corals too. While they are brown in colour outside, they have blue skeletons, which give them their common name.

There were lots of leathery soft corals, and many of them were huge! This colony was just next to a patch of fern seaweed. Pink corals against green seaweeds, nice right?

I also found a few flowery soft corals. They are not very big though.

Sometimes, we can find other little animals living with the corals. And below is a little shrimp living among the "fingers" of this finger soft coral.

We also saw a featherstar! Tiong Chin found it hiding among some rocks and corals. Understand that some of the others saw one in their previous trip to St John's too.

And as we called it a day, I have to declare again that St John's is still one of my favourite shores. So far, it has never fail to amaze me with all kinds of interesting things on every of my trip!

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