Sunday, November 16, 2008

Many Knobblies and Another New Sea Star at Semakau

After the great trip yesterday during the Project Semakau launch, with a new sea star spotted, I had thought that it will be a long time before we spot another new sea star. But alas, I was wrong!

Pentaceraster starfish, sea star
This was what we saw today while doing our field training for our volunteers - yet another new sea star that we have never seen on Semakau before! It looked like a Pentaceraster sp. to me.

For a sea star lover like me, it's simply exhilarating to see 2 new sea stars in two days on my favourite shore - Pulau Semakau!!!

Pentaceraster starfish, sea star
Here's the underside. Looks very much like the underside of the knobbly sea star.

And talking about the knobbly sea star, we saw many juvenile knobbly sea stars today too! And mind you, we were not even actively searching for them! I was like walking in a straight line from the sandy shore, cutting across the seagrass meadow to the coral rubble area, and I saw 7 of them! If I bothered to search for them, I'm sure I would have found more of them, especially since they were among the long tape seagrass which hid most of them!

Starfish, Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)
Here the first knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) we saw - my first time seeing a black one!

Starfish, Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)
The second one we spotted was this orange one.

Starfish, Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)
We also found several brown ones, including the one above which had one arm shorter than the other arms.

Starfish, Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
These are the other knobbly sea stars I spotted today. Understand that LK spotted another 3 adult sea stars, and the other volunteers also spotted several others.

And again, today I had to do quite a bit of coordination work and training the volunteers, and thus didn't have much time to take many photos. Here are some of the other animals we spotted.

Stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora)
The stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora)...

Sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)
The sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)...

Dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens)
The dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens)...

Acanthozoon flatworm
And this flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.).

Anyway, we were really off for a good start for Project Semakau! Not just the new sightings, but even the weather too! It was all dark clouds when we reached the shore, but there was only a little drizzle for a short while, and our training wasn't disrupted at all!

I'm really looking forward to more exciting finds for this project!

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