Sunday, January 11, 2009

Project Semakau Training on 10 Jan 2009

We were out on Pulau Semakau again to conduct the transect training for our volunteers, and I have to say that we seem to be finding new things every trip ever since the launch of the project! First, we found a new sea star during the launch. Then during our first field training, we found yet another new sea star. During our second field trip, we found a new sea cucumber. And now, the third field trip, we found a heart urchin!

Heart Urchin
And yes! This is the very first heart urchin we saw at Semakau, and my second time seeing a living one, the last time being at Changi. Looks like either a Lovenia sp. or Maretia sp. to me.

Red maiden's fan sponge (Oceanapia sagittaria)
There were lots of red maiden's fan sponge (Oceanapia sagittaria) among the seagrasses. They looked little little flowers among the seagrasses.

Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
I only saw 4 knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) today. Not sure where they were hiding among the tall seagrasses.

Dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens)
Under the arm of one of the sea stars, I found a little dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens).

Synaptid sea cucumber
Several synaptid sea cucumbers were found among the seagrasses, but this one looks different from the ones we usually find, both the colour and patterns on its body.

Sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)
As usual, there were lots of sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra), many of them half buried in the sand.

Ocellated sea cucumber (Stichopus ocellatus)
It's been a while seen I last saw an ocellated sea cucumber (Stichopus ocellatus), though I understand some of the volunteers saw one during our last trip here.

Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis)
This huge noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) was quietly laying eggs when we found it. I think we spot volutes laying eggs like on almost all every trip to Semakau, which is a good sign that the population here is very healthy!

Spider conch (Lambis lambis)
I also found 2 spider conches (Lambis lambis). They can be quite hard to spot sometimes, with algae and silt stuck to their shells, blending them well into the surrounding.

Reef squid (Sepioteuthis sp.)
JL found a reef squid (Sepioteuthis sp.), and later we found many more.

I spotted this huge octopus. Initially it was like brownish in colour just like the surround sand, and when I approach it, it seemed to realise that its camouflage did not seem to be working well, and started creeping away.

Nudibranch (Gymnodoris rubropapulosa)
We also found several nudibranchs, including the pretty Gymnodoris rubropapulosa which feeds on other slugs.

Flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.)
And flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.) were really every where!

Again, it was a very fulfilling trip. And seeing new things every trip is certainly a really auspicious start for Project Semakau!

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