Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sisters Island with the Sea Anemone Team

Finally got to go with Dr Daphne and the sea anemone team today!

It was certainly a very fun and enriching experience. The island we visited today was Sisters Island.

Dr Daphne was here in Singapore to help study and identify the various species of sea anemones we have here.

Our job today was basically to seek for anemones and collect those that we have not gotten enough specimens for the study.

Here's Dr Daphne and gang trying to remove one of the anemones using this long equipment that I couldn't remember the name :P (Update: Found out from Ria that it's called a Yabby Pump! Cool name right?)

It was quite a good day, and we found several species of sea anemones. The one below is a Phymanthus sp. which we collected a few specimens at the coral rubble area.

In a more sandy area of the coral rubble, I found this pretty star-like anemone. We tried to remove it but wasn't successful, as it was very quick and retracted into the sand before we could get it.

On the sandy upper shore, we found many of these anemones that had a long column. Wonder if they were of the same species as the ones we found at Changi?

Apart from these smaller anemones, we found the much bigger (in fact, bigger than your face) merten's carpet anemone too. And what a pleasant surprise we had!

There were anemonefishes on all 3 merten's carpet anemones I found today!

Besides the bigger female, there were several smaller males as well! There are two of them in the above picture, can you find them? One of them was very well-hidden among the tentacles.

While the main focus was sea anemones, we also encountered many other interesting animals along the way, and here are some of them.

While anemonefishes were cute, we had the more dangerous fishes too, such as the blue-spotted fantail ray above. There were many of them in the lagoon, and some of them were half buried under the sand, and so we had to really watch where we stepped.

Now, is that a rock or a living thing? It is actually a living shell called the spider conch! This master of camouflage even had little soft corals growing on its shell. Isn't this amazing? But sadly, this huge snail is becoming rather rare in our waters as they were collected for the cooking pot, and the were also suffering from the lost of habitat. Hopefully things will improve when Singaporeans are more educated about the richness and the fragility of our natural heritage.

This snail that has a smooth and pretty shell is called a moon snail. They usually hunt just beneath the sand for little shells.

Several snapping shrimps were out hunting too! These shrimps have one huge pincer which can produce explosive sounds to stun its preys like little fishes and other animals. If you hear any popping sound along a beach, especially when it's dark, it's probably them!

The were many pretty gobies too.

Chay Hoon found a synaptid sea cucumber among some rocks. Understand that "synaptid" actually means sticky, as these sea cucumbers has a sticky outer surface.

I also saw this little brittle star sliding over the sand surface by wriggling its arms. Like their relatives the sea stars, brittle stars are able to regenerate lost arms too!

And at the water's edge, there were several moon crabs gliding over the sand effortlessly with its paddle-shaped legs. As I approached one of them, it immediately burrowed into the sand in a split second!

Eventually, the tide was getting high and we had to make a move.

Hopefully after Dr Daphne's study, we will have a better understanding of the various sea anemone species in our waters.

There are just so many things about our living shores which we still don't know. Certainly hope more experts will come to Singapore to study the various wildlife we have.

But more importantly, I certainly hope our nature places will be properly preserved so that such studies can be conducted in future, and also, our future generations will get to experience the wonderful natural heritage of Singapore!

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