Saturday, November 06, 2010

Last Project Semakau Survey of the Year

It's the last Project Semakau survey of the year, and I was really glad that the weather was great - cloudy but no rain!

Juvenile Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
And one of the exciting finds of this trip must be the many juvenile Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus)! They were about 10cm wide each. Semakau is one of the few places Singapore where we can find juvenile Knobbly Sea Stars - a good sign that these charismatic sea stars are reproducing here!

Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)
The mature Knobbly Sea Stars, such as this one above, can grow to more than 30cm wide.

Juvenile Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae)
Apart from juvenile Knobblies, we can usually find juvenile Cushion Stars (Culcita novaeguineae) too. This one is probably slightly more than 10cm wide.

Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra)
Apart from the stars, we can also find sea cucumbers among the seagrass, such as the Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra). It can burrow into the sandy substrate to hide from predators and also to feed on tiny organic matter among the sand.

Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis)
The Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis) was also spotted today, and some of them were laying eggs! This huge snail feeds on other smaller molluscs, such as clams and snails.

Aeolid nudibranch
Another highlight of the day would be this Aeolid nudibranch, which I have no idea what species it is. It was quite small, about 1cm long.

Fan Seaweed Slug (Costasiella paweli)
Found a few Fan Seaweed Slugs (Costasiella paweli) on one of the Fan Seaweeds (Avrainvillea sp.). And these slugs are definitely among the smallest slugs that I can spot with naked eyes - each was about 1-2mm long!

Porites Coral
While walking around to check on the various seagrass monitoring teams, I came across this huge colony of Porites Coral (Porites sp.). It was humongous - between 2-3 metres wide! This is definitely the biggest coral colony that I have seen in an intertidal area. Know that Porites Corals usually only grow a few cm every year, I really wonder how old this colony is to have grown to such a huge size.

Magnificent Anemones (Heteractis magnifica)
I also found several Magnificent Anemones (Heteractis magnifica) in the seagrass meadow.

Indeed, there are lots of hidden gems in the extensive seagrass meadow on Semakau.

Right next to the seagrass meadow was a sandy area with lots of sponges.

Pink Haliclona Sponge
Among them, I spotted a pretty Pink Haliclona Sponge (Haliclona sp.).

LK led another team doing a fish survey, but unfortunately I didn't get to take any photos of them doing their work. It was still a very satisfying trip nonetheless, with a number great finds.

Would also like to thank all the volunteers who have helped in one way or another over the past one year! Looking forward to more Semakau trips next year :)

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