Sunday, March 15, 2009

First Project Semakau Transect on 14 Mar 2009

Finally, after half a year of training and preparation, we had our very first Project Semakau transect!

Was really glad that everything turned out well - even the weather was super and the tide somehow lower than predicted in the tide table!

Will have more photos of the actual transect in the Project Semakau website soon, but here are some of the interesting organisms we encountered.

Sea hare
This is one sea hare which I'm not exactly sure what species it is. Have seen this several times at Semakau, and the colour somewhat varies, though the patterns on their body are similar. The body shape and features looked somewhat like Aplysia extraordinaria, but the patterns were kind of different from the ones featured in the Sea Slug Forum, so I also can't really say for sure.

Juvenile knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)
Many juvenile knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) were encountered during this trip. In fact, this is probably the trip with the most number of knobblies spotted on Semakau so far! I saw a total of 13 of them just within the column which I was doing my transect.

Juvenile knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
Here are the rest of them!

Sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)
Semakau has always been a great place to look for sea cucumbers, especially the sandfish sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra), which is possibly the most commonly seen one.

Synaptid sea cucumber
Huge synaptid sea cucumbers were often seen too, and the one above was about 1.5m long.

Dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens)
The dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens) is another one commonly found among the seagrasses.

Actinopyga sp.
Once again, we spotted this little sea cucumber which has been identified as an Actinopyga sp. I have seen this in various shades of red or dark orange. There were times when I really suspect this to be a juvenile stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora). I have previously seen one in a mixture of reddish and light brown patches, and it had lighter coloured patch around its anus, distinctive of the stonefish sea cucumber.

Pseudobiceros uniarborensis
It was a rather hot day, but we still saw a few flatworms, which largely prefer darkness to light. The one above is probably a Pseudobiceros uniarborensis.

Heart cockle (Corculum cardissa)
Found this heart cockle (Corculum cardissa) at the coral rubble area.

Acropora sp.
We saw many hard corals, but I was particular happy to see this branching coral (Acropora sp.). While it is rather common in our neighbouring countries, this coral requires clear water to do well, and so is less commonly seen in Singapore. I do see them every now and then on Semakau though.

We did not really have much time to explore further, since we still had to rush back to clean and sort out the data sheet and equipment for the transect. But still, I was glad that we managed to see so many interesting stuff with the little time we had :)

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