Saturday, May 22, 2010

Highlights of the TMSI Touch Pool

I went to the Tropical Marine Science Institute on St John's Island last Monday and Tuesday for the ascidian workshop conducted by Dr Gretchen Lambert. There's a touch pool in the compound, and I always like to check it out for any new organism that they added to the pool.

Bornella stellifer
The newest addition was this little nudibranch - a Bornella stellifer. It was in fact only added when I was there on Tuesday! This nudibranch was unfortunately collected with some of the ascidians used for the workshop, and I noticed it only when some of the participants were about to preserve the ascidians back in the lab.

There were a few little Fluted Giant Clams (Tridacna squamosa) in the pool - results of the research programme under TMSI.

The hard corals appear to be doing rather well. The above is a Hydnophora sp. You can tell from the little bumps (hydnophores) on the surface.

Order Corallimorpharia
There were at least 2 types of corallimorphs (Order Corallimorpharia) in the pool. This group of animals is very under-studied in Singapore, and we have no idea what species we have here at all.

Here's another type of corallimorph.

There were a few colonies of zoanthids (Order Zoantharia) as well. The ones above are probably Zoanthus sp. They resemble lots of little sea anemones living together, but they are not, though they are somewhat closely related from the same class.

This is probably a Zoanthus sp. too.

Palythoa mutuki
At one corner was a colony of zoanthids with larger oral disc. These should be Palythoa mutuki.

Sea anemone
There were many of this tiny translucent unidentified sea anemones in the pool too.

Sea anemone
Yet another unidentified sea anemone...

Sea anemone
There were so many of them at some places, that they appeared like a furry carpet.

Holothuria leucospilota
There were a few black sea cucumbers, Holothuria leucospilota, too.

Paddle Weed (Halophila ovalis)
There were patches of Paddle Weed (Halophila ovalis) in the pool. These are seagrasses - the only flowering plants that live fully sudmerged in sea water!

There were a few species of seaweed too. The above is a Halimeda sp.

Ocypode ceratophthalmus
This Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus), obviously, was not found in the touch pool. We spotted it among the grass near the jetty, harassed by a cat. We chased away the cat eventually. It was really cute, and I just decided to add it into this blog. Haha... :P

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