Sunday, June 05, 2011

Little Sister Island on 20 May 2011

Yet another rather late post. I have not visited the Little Sister Island for several years, and hence was really glad that we managed to organise a trip there this time round. Although it's quite a bit smaller than the Big Sister Island, there are still quite a number of things to see on the island.

The heart urchin, likely to be Lovenia elongata, appeared to be in season, and we saw quite a number of them! This one was walking over a rock using the spines on its underside. Looks really cute!

Here's another heart urchin burrowing into the sand.

Flipping over the rocks, I saw this little sea star, probably an asterinid among the encrusting bryozoan and red algae. This was only my third time seeing this sea star - the other times at Raffles Lighthouse and Big Sister Island.

Under the jetty were several red feather stars.

I also saw this black and white feather star in a shallow pool.

A stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora) was trapped high and dry during the low tide.

Not too far away from the sea cucumber was the resident fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa).

Another "giant" we saw was the giant top shell (Trochus niloticus), hiding among the rocks.

The creeper shell, Cerithium trailli, is supposed to be an endangered species in Singapore. I have been seeing a number of them on our southern shores though.

Another shell I saw was the dolphin shell (Angaria delphinus). Been seeing many of them these days too.

Only a few slugs were spotted though, including the pustulose phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa).

A few leaf slugs, Elysia ornata, were also spotted. These slugs feed on algae, and are able to retain the chloroplast for photosynthesis!

The hairy leaf slug, Placida daguilarensis, was also in season, but since they were so small, it was rather hard to spot them unless you look closely.

This octopus moved around so gracefully, and almost looked like it was gliding over the corals and rocks.

The brown egg crab (Atergatis floridus) is commonly seen among corals and algae on our reefs.

The sponge, Rhabdastrella globostellata, was rather common here.

There are good populations of hard corals on the island too. The above is a small colony of turban coral (Turbinaria sp.).

At the sides of rocks and areas shaded from the sun, a few patches of cave corals were seen.

There are soft corals too, including several huge colonies of the Cladiella corals.

Some parts of the reef were covered with zoanthids, such as the two species of Palythoa above.

Corallimorphs of various colours were seen. Unfortunately, the species we have in Singapore remains a mystery.

Branching sea anemones (Phymanthus spp.) were very common on our shores. Recent studies shown that although they may exhibit various colours and appear different, most of them are probably of the same species.

Several giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) were seen, though I did not really spend time to check if there were any anemonefish inside.

And before I left the reef, I took one last look at the densely covered coral reef - a sight most Singaporeans do not know exist in Singapore...

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