Friday, October 26, 2007

Back to Cyrene

Today, I finally got to visit Cyrene Reef with Team Seagrass again!

But this time round, our transportation there was a little different. Previously, we took a boat that went all the way to the reef. But today, the boat brought us to some where near the reef, and we then had to transfer to a smaller boat to get nearer to the shore, which made the landing easier.

This was the first time we tried this method, and here were the brave ones (Ria, Andy, Robin and Jo) on the first boat.

And YES! They made a successful landing!

Here goes the second batch - Siti, Marcus, Wei Ling and Wei Lian. I went with Chay Hoon, Kok Sheng and Gaytri on the third batch.

When we reached the reef, we noticed that the tape seagrasses were flowering! The small whitish bits (that look that styrofoam) floating around are the male flower, while the bigger one in the middle is the female flower.

Marcus was my buddy for the seagrass transect, and we managed to complete it in about 45 minutes.

And after that, we got to explore the reef to see the rich marine life!

There were lots of knobbly sea stars among the seagrasses, and they came in different shades of brown, red and orange.

There were lots and lots of sand-sifting sea stars on the sand bar too!

Also on the sand bar were the sand dollars.

We also saw a diadema sea urchin trapped in a tidal pool, and a salmacis sea urchin hidden among the seagrasses.

There were several sandfish sea cucumberss as well, and lots of synaptid sea cucumber. Do you know that sea cucumbers breathe through their anuses?

Cyrene Reef also has lots of corals, such as the soft corals on above-top, and the hard corals on above-bottom.

Several Denison's nudibranchs were also spotted among the seagrasses, and one of them just next to Chay Hoon and Gaytri's transect line at 23m!

But the highlight of the day must be this! I had initially thought that it's a nudibranch, but after examining my photos carefully, I realised that its two rhinophores in front were kind of cylindrical in shape, typical of a side-gilled slug. And of course, I also couldn't find any gills on its back nor any opening for the gills. Checking at the Sea Slug Forum under Pleurobranchidae, I found that it resembles the darker variation of Pleurobranchus forskalii. This side-gilled slug can be differentiated from other similar species by the white rings or semi-rings on its back. Will send it to Sea Slug Forum later to seek some advice on the exact ID.

Too bad I didn't have the time to properly take some better photos as tide was rising and we had to leave soon.

Here's the first boat making for our bigger boat further away from the shore.

Really, can't wait to come back to this fabulous shore again!

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