Sunday, August 31, 2008

Biggest Sea Star in Singapore?

All along, I had thought that the knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) was probably the biggest sea star in Singapore based on diameter. But that has changed after I saw this carcass this morning.


Went to Changi Beach again, and was about to head back when KS shouted to me. He had found a dead sea star, and it was HUGE!!! Just compare it with my foot. KS has a ruler with him, and we measured it to be about 60cm wide! Ok, I do understand that in other countries, they have sea stars more than a metre wide, but somehow I had never even hoped that with the little wild shores we have left, we can actually find such a huge sea star here!

In fact, we found a total of 4 such dead sea stars! Taking a closer look at them, we decided that they are probably the 8-armed Luidia sea stars (Luidia maculata), but we definitely have never seen such huge specimens during our shore trips before.

Luidia maculata
Here's how the sea star should look like when it's alive. The above photo was taken a few years ago at Beting Bronok, a reef near Pulau Tekong. It was mentioned in "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore" that specimens of this sea star often exceed 20cm in radius, so why haven't we seen one of the bigger ones alive?

Could it be that they are only found in the subtidal zone? Do they migrate to a different habitat when they mature? Whatever it is, I'm definitely going to visiting this same spot again more regularly in future.

Anyway, KS and I went to Changi to look for other Luidia species - L. hardwicki and L. penangensis. We didn't managed to find any of them though. However, we had plenty of other interesting finds to keep us occupied, apart from the huge 8-armed sea stars that got us really excited.

Cake sea star, Anthenea aspera
KS spotted this pretty pinkish cake sea star (Anthenea aspera). Cake sea stars are rather common at Changi, but this was the first time I saw a pink one!

Cake sea star, Anthenea aspera
Most of the time, the cake sea stars we saw had rather dull colours, like the one above, though we had occasionally seen bright orange or red ones before.

Four armed Gymnanthenea laevis starfish
I also found this four-armed Gymnanthenea laevis sea star.

Gymnanthenea laevis starfish
They normally come with 5 arms.

Biscuit sea star, Goniodiscaster scaber
Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) are also very common here, but this was the first time I saw such a pretty one in bright orange.

Biscuit sea star, Goniodiscaster scaber
They are usually brown in colour.

Warty sea cucumber, Cercodemas anceps
The warty sea cucumber (Cercodemas anceps) appeared to be in season, and we saw several of them.

White Salmacis sea urchin
The white Salmacis sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) seemed to be making a come back too.


This unfortunate stingray was caught and killed by a disused fishing line.

Spotted seahorse, Hippocampus kuda
I also found a spotted seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) that's orange in colour instead of the usual yellow or brown!

While I didn't managed to find the sea stars I was looking for, it was nonetheless still a really exciting and colourful trip! :)

1 comment:

Jennifer Erickson said...

Wow that must have really been quite an adventure! I especially love the warty sea cucumber, yellow and pink are m favorite colors! These are great pictures!