Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Echinoderms of Pulau Sekudu

The last time I went to Pulau Sekudu was like almost a year ago, and thus I had really been looking forward to this trip :)

Being an echinoderm lover, I shall highlight the echinoderms we saw in this entry first, and talk about the other organisms in a later entry.

Biscuit Sea Star (Gonodiscaster scaber)
The first species of sea star that we spotted was a Biscuit Sea Star (Gonodiscaster scaber. Now, does this look like a star-shaped biscuit to you?

Biscuit Sea Star (Gonodiscaster scaber)
As we moved on, we saw many more of them, so many that I stopped taking photos of them after a while. they come in various tones of brown.

Biscuit Sea Star (Gonodiscaster scaber)
This Biscuit Sea Star was a little special though - it only had 4 arms, and it looked so symmetrical!

Orange-tipped Sea Star (Gymnanthenea laevis)
I soon found an Orange-tipped Sea Star (Gymnanthenea laevis), which we often see on our northern shores too.

Cake Sea Star (Anthenea aspera)
One of my favourite sea stars must be the Cake Sea Star (Anthenea aspera), as they come in various colours. This one has pretty pinkish tips.

Cake Sea Star (Anthenea aspera)
This one has dark red patches on it.

Cake Sea Star (Anthenea aspera)
We found 2 orange Cake Sea Stars, and they looked really pretty! Here's one of them.

Sand Star (Astropecten sp.)
A few Sand Stars (Astropecten sp.) were also spotted. This little sea star feeds on small shells.

Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)
One of the highlights of the day must be this huge Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus). I found it right at the edge of the exposed coral rubble area facing Chek Jawa. This is definitely the biggest knobbly I have seen so far. It is about 36 cm wide!

Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
Not far away, I spotted 3 more.

Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)
And yet another one slightly further away. I am sure that in the murky deeper water, there must be more of them.

Sea Stars, Starfishes
We found several juvenile sea stars too, and they looked really cute! The two similar-looking ones are Biscuit Sea Stars.

Crown Sea Star (Asterina coronata)
This orange Crown Sea Star (Asterina coronata) is probably only about 1cm wide.

Eight-armed Luidia Sea Star (Luidia maculata)
This Eight-armed Luidia Sea Star (Luidia maculata) was about twice as wide as the Crown Sea Star.

Eight-armed Luidia Sea Star (Luidia maculata)
Here's an underwater shot of it sliding over the sand.

Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus)
We also found this juvenile Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus) - my first time seeing it here!

Brittle Star (Ophiothrix sp.)
Closely related to the sea stars are the Brittle Stars. The one above is probably an Ophiothrix sp.

Feather Star
While searching for more sea stars, I came across this Feather Star. Have seen this a few times at Chek Jawa too.

Ball Sea Cucumber (Phyllophorus sp.)
One of the most abundant echinoderm on Sekudu should be the Ball Sea Cucumber (Phyllophorus sp.). Many of them were stranded on the the seaweeds, and even more were partially buried in the sand.

Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra)
Another sea cucumber we saw was the Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra). Saw quite a number of them actually. These are the ones that you can usually find in Chinese restaurants. They must be properly processed to remove their toxins before they can be consumed though.

Cucumarid Sea Cucumber (Cucumarid sp.)
Saw several species of Cucumarid Sea Cucumbers (Cucumarid spp.), including the brown one above.

Black Sea Cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota)
The Black Sea Cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) is very common on some of our southern shores, but it's somehow less often encountered in the north.

Sea Urchin (Temnopleurus sp.)
We found a lonely little sea urchin (Temnopleurus sp.) among the seaweed.

Salmacis Sea Urchin (Salmacis sp.)
The Salmacis Sea Urchin (Salmacis sp.) was rather abundant though.

Salmacis Sea Urchin (Salmacis sp.)
The spines can come in purple or pink sometimes.

Heart Urchin Test
We saw the tests of 2 dead heart urchins.

Pink Sand Dollar (Peronella lesueuri)
And saving the best for the last - the top find of the day must be this Pink Sand Dollar (Peronella lesueuri)! I found one in the middle of the stingray lagoon, and subsequently, another one at the edge of the lagoon.

Pink Sand Dollar (Peronella lesueuri)
This is the second one I found, sliding over some seagrass.

Pink Sand Dollars (Peronella lesueuri)
Then Hen and KS soon found two more. Here's 3 of them together.

This is definitely one of my best Sekudu trip so far :)

1 comment:

CH said...

Just a note to the readers that access to this island is restricted and a permit is needed from Nparks. :o)