Saturday, June 30, 2007

Basket! And mind u, we are NOT swearing...

Today, we went to Sisters Island again, and yet again, we had quite a few nice encounters!

Some of us started with the smaller lagoon to give it a proper scan - was hoping to find some common seastars here, which unfortunately, we didn't find any. But while the smaller lagoon was less lively than the big one, it still had a number of interesting things.

At the edge of the waters, I found this ghost crab running away from me at top speed. Ghost crabs are fast runners, and can move about 100 bodylengths per second, and they also have excellent eyesight so as to see where they going. When it finally got exhausted, it decided to just burrow into the sand. I managed to grab a shot just before it vanished.

We also found these cute pair of anemone shrimps on a carpet anemone. Some how, there seemed to be less carpet anemones these days. Were some of them stolen by poachers?

We always have this dilemma when we want to post things onto the web - while we want to let other people know how rich our shores are, we are also worried that poachers may start going to these places to collect stuff.

It was really sad that these people often do not care about conserving our wonderful natural heritage for our future generations. To think that just a few years ago, I didn't even know we can find all these wonderful things on our shores, and now I have to worry about losing them before other fellow Singaporeans even know their existence!

I found 2 other anemone shrimps on a merten's carpet anemone. Aren't they cute? Isn't it better to experience them in their natural habitat, where you will get the whole package - sun, sand, clouds, and getting your feet wet as you step into sea water?

At the coral rubble area, I found this little black-coloured fish. Not sure what fish this is, though I thought the shape looked somewhat similar to that of a sicklefish.

There were also quite a few halfbeaks swimming around on the surface of the water. They are so-named because the lower jaw is elongated and extends beyond the much shorter upper jaw.

I also saw a few juvenile mushroom corals! Unlike the adult mushroom corals which we often found lying around freely on the substrate, these juvenile ones were still attached to the rocks with a stalk - making them looked just like little mushrooms! It's always nice to know that our corals are reproducing - an indication that our shores are very much alive!

There were also lots of octopuses, most of them hardly bigger than my palm! Some of them, like the one above, were actually creeping on the coral rubble out of the water!

And here's an eel-blenny resting between an omelette leathery soft coral (top), a hard coral (bottom), and coralline algae (reddish thing on the right).

Helen spotted this pretty flatworm.

And just nearby, I found this cute little cowrie sliding over a rock. Do you know that cowrie shells were used as the currency in some places last time? They used to be very common in our waters, but these days we are seeing less of them. So please don't collect these beautiful shells from our shores if you see them, or they may be driven to extinction!

There were also a number of sea cucumbers. Helen and Kok Sheng found the sea cucumber above hiding under some coral rubble. Not quite sure what's the species though.

This is another unidentified sea cucumber I found among the coral rubble.

While I'm been finding quite a number of nemos these days, I still got into the photo-taking mode immediately when we found the false clownfish above. Isn't it cute? However, I didn't see any males with her though. Why was she alone? Or maybe they will return when the tide rises?

But the find of the day must be this.

When I vaguely heard Chay Hoon shouting "basket", I was wondering, who or what could have irritated her so much that she started swearing.

But when she shouted again, I realised I've heard wrongly. She's not irritated, but excited!

This is something that has not been seen in our waters since 1896! It's a basket star! Probably still a juvenile though, since it was quite small, maybe about 10cm wide with its arms full extended.

Here's a better view of its flowery branch-like arms!

Really, this is something that I never expect to see on an intertidal trip!

Just show how amazing our shores are! We've been to Sisters Island many times, but we still see new things every now and then!

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