Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cyrene Reef 2010

The last time I visited Cyrene Reef was more than a year ago, and hence I was really excited to be back here again on 15 July 2010. Cyrene Reef lies in the middle of a very busy shipping channel, and we had to seek clearance from MPA before we could land on the reef.

We hired a yacht with a dinghy attached to it. When the boat was near the reef, we had to transfer to the dinghy as the water was too shallow. Here's some of us getting off the dinghy when we finally reached the reef.

One of the reasons why I liked Cyrene Reef so much was the abundant Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus)!

And as the water was usually rather clear here, we could usually take clear wide-angle shots of many sea stars.

Here's a quick look at some of the various colours and patterns that the knobbly sea stars exhibited.

And some of them may have 4 or 6 arms, instead of the usual 5.

We saw many juvenile knobblies too! Here's a quick comparison of the sizes :P

We also saw several juvenile Pentaceraster mammillatus, and here's one of them.

They appeared to come in different colours.

Found this small brownish coloured one with missing arms. Not sure if this is a Pentaceraster or some kind of hybrid or whatever.

There was also this one which looked like a hybrid between a knobbly and a Pentaceraster.

Yet another one which looked like a Pentaeraster, but the knobs were not of a lighter colour like the rest.

I also saw a juvenile Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae).

And there were lots of Sand-sifting Sea Stars (Archaster typicus) on the sandy beach.

Related to the sea stars are the sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta). Both of them exhibit a penta-radial symmetry.

The white Salmacis Sea Urchins (Salmacis sp.) were in season, and we saw quite a number of them.

The Black Sea Cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) was one of the more commonly seen sea cucumbers on our shores.

We also saw several Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra), yet another often seen sea cucumber. This sea cucumber is the one usually served in the restaurant. They must be properly processed to remove the toxins before they can be eaten though.

Synaptid Sea Cucumbers were quite easily seen on Cyrene Reef too.

I was rather happy to see a juvenile Batfish (Platax sp.)! I had seen them many times on our shores, but this was the first time I managed to get a decent photo.

The others had better luck with slugs, while I only saw a pair of mating Bohol's Nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis).

I saw the trails of a huge burrowing animals, and on uncovering the sand, I found a rather big Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis) that was about as long as my palm!

There were lots of unidentified Tube Anemones.

I saw 2 Long Tentacle Anemones (Macrodactyla doreensis) in the seagrass meadow.

There were several Haddon's Carpet Anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), and some of them had Anemone Shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) on them.

Here's a closer look at the shrimp, but this time round, on a Giant Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).

We saw many Acorn Worms' casts on the sand, and this one we could still see part of the worm! This worm feeds on tiny decaying matter in the sand by swallowing the sand and digesting the edible bits.

Soon, tide was rising, and the dinghy picked us up to be transfered to the yacht.

It was a really fun and exciting trip. But quoting a friend who came on the trip with us, visiting these various intertidal areas really made us appreciate Pulau Semakau more. And why is that so? While most of the shores we had visited were beautiful in their own ways, none was as diverse as Pulau Semakau. There were just so many different habitats with their respective interesting flora and fauna at Semakau, and so far, I certainly had not come across any shore area in Singapore that could match it.

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