Sunday, July 20, 2008

Exploring Pulau Sekudu

I've not been to Pulau Sekudu for quite a while, and thus was really looking forward to this trip, even though I had to wake up around 3am in the morning :P

We had to get a permit from Nparks to land on this little island, as it is part of Chek Jawa Wetlands, a protected area. A really good thing for the organisms in this area :)

We took a boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, and reached the island about 4.50am. Tide was already rather low and we started exploring the intertidal area immediately. Here are some of the things we saw during the trip :)

carpet anemone, Stichodactyla haddoni
Pulau Sekudu has lots and lots of beautiful carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), and we had to walk really carefully around them so as not to step on them.

carpet anemone, Stichodactyla haddoni
While many of the carpet anemones had green tentacles, some of them had purple ones instead.

sand star, Astropecten sp.
The first sea star we saw was the sand star (Astropecten sp.). There must be hundreds of them in one of the lagoons! We saw a few every one or two steps!

sand star, Astropecten sp.
Here's another type of sand star (Astropecten sp.), which we thought could be another species.

orange rock star, Asterina coronata
We also found an orange rock star (Asterina coronata).

biscuit starfish, Goniodiscaster scaber
A few medium size biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) were spotted as well.

cake starfish, Anthenea aspera
Some how, we only managed to find one juvenile cake sea star (Anthenea aspera), and we didn't managed to find any knobbly sea star.

Not sure why, but there are some trips where we saw lots of seastars on Pulau Sekudu, and yet there were trips where I could hardly find any sea stars (even before the mass death which happened in January 2007). While we know that some marine life are "seasonal", we're not really sure what are the factors contributing to this, especially when many of the sea stars we saw are adult size, meaning they have to come from some where.

Pink thorny sea cucumber, Colochirus quadrangularis
Anyway, there were quite a number sea cucumbers too, and of different species. The above is one of them, a pink thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis).

White salmacis sea urchin, Salmacis sp.
There were plenty of white salmacis sea urchins (Salmacis sp.) among the seaweeds too.

tube or peacock anemones, Ceriantharia
Pulau Sekudu is probably one of the best place in Singapore to see peacock anemones (Ceriantharia), and they come in all kinds of colours!

On the sides of several rocks, I found quite a few flatworms slithering around.

Found this little squid (probably Sepioteuthis sp.).

Noble volute, Cymbiola nobilis
Somehow the noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis) I've seen on our northern shores appear to be much bigger the ones I've seen on our southern shores. Not sure why.

Allied cowrie, Ovulidae
I found this pretty little allied cowrie (Ovulidae) on a flowery soft coral.

Nudibranch, Atagema intecta
Didn't really find many nudibranchs today, probably because I wasn't really looking for slugs today as I was searching for sea stars. Found the above nudibranch (probably Atagema intecta) near a rock while doing my star search :P

Nudibranch, Discodoris lilacina
Some of the others found this nudibranch, probably a Discodoris lilacina.

Oriental Pied-hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris
When we're back on mainland at Changi, AP and I were waiting for our bus when I heard the calls of hornbills. Doing a quick scan around, I saw a pair of oriental pied-hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris). Unfortunately, I only managed to take a few photos of the male hornbill.

Hornbills are frequently spotted at Changi and Pulau Ubin. In fact, I saw them on most of my trips to Pulau Ubin! :)

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