Sunday, February 20, 2011

Project Semakau Survey at Stonefish Bay on 19 Feb 2011

We did a Project Semakau survey at Stonefish Bay again, and once again, very fortunately, no one encountered any stonefish!

The top find of the day should be this Lovenia Heart Urchin (Lovenia elongata), which I personally have not seen before!

We also saw many Black Long-spined Sea Urchin (Diadema setosum). Quite scary to see so many of them. I counted at least 30 of them! This sea urchin has venomous spines, which easily breaks off and embeds in the skin of anyone who accidentally bumps into them.

And I found one with white patches! But apart from the white colour, the external morphology was the as the others, so I guess it should be the same species.

My main mission today was to collect soft coral specimens, and finally, I can identify these tree-like soft corals to the genus. The above is a Stereonephthya sp. with spiky polyps.

This should be Nephthya sp. with smoother polyps.

I also saw many other soft corals which I was already familiar with.

Like the Sarcophyton sp. above. While it may have folded edges, its top surface does not have additional outgrowths.

This is the similar-looking Lobophytum sp., which has vertical outgrowths on the top surface of the colony. Sometimes, these outgrowths may even be long and appear finger-like.

This is Sinularia sp., which has lots of finger-like structures. It has spiky spicules too.

This one also has spiky spicules, but has more branch-like structures rather than finger-like structures. Could it also be a Sinularia or something else. Can't remember if I have collected a specimen of it. Unfortunately, we did not encountered any Cladiella sp., which also has finger-like structures but not spiky spicules.

This is a xeniid species, my guess is possible a Sansibia sp. Will have to wait for the results of the spicule check to be out to be sure. Update: This is indeed a Sansibia so.

This soft coral with tiny little polyps really puzzled me. Not sure what it is, though morphology wise it could be a Briareum sp. Once again, will have to wait for the spicules results. Update: Checking through my older photos of similar-looking organisms, but clearer ones, and realised this should be a hydroid, not a soft coral.

I came across this pretty Tube Anemone in the shallow waters.

These whitish things may appear like the tube anemones, but they are probably hydroids. I found them growing on a Sarcophyton coral. Not sure what's the relationship between the two species.

I also found two sea cucumbers which I have not seen here before. Both are hidden within the rock wall, and impossible for me to take out to have a better photo. The above one is brown in colour with black bands.

This one has a spiky appearance. Have no idea what species this is too.

I only saw one sea star today, and it's a Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae). It's quite huge, at least 25cm wide.

Several nudibranchs were spotted, including this Funeral Nudibranch (Jorunna funebris).

Saw this lonely Bohol's Nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis) in the middle of a sandy area.

This Gymnodoris rubropapulosa is a fierce predator of other slugs.

Thought these slugs would be safe since they were usually up high and dry. These marine pulmonate slugs, Peronia verruculata, breathe air and only emerge from air pockets trapped among rocks and sand during low tide to feed on algae.

I also came across this slug which doesn't have the usual big bumps of the previous species. Not sure if it could be a different species?

The rocky areas harboured quite a few Giant Top Shells (Trochus niloticus).

It rained halfway during our survey, but we were rewarded with a nice rainbow too!

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