Sunday, September 20, 2009

Project Semakau September Transect

Today, we were back at Pulau Semakau for a transect survey for Project Semakau. As usual, I was running around doing the coordination work :P

Fortunately, most of the volunteers were already quite skilled with doing the survey work, and thus I did not have to spend a lot of time helping with the survey. Here are some of the things I saw.

Red Maiden's Fan (Oceanapia sagittaria)
While bringing the groups to the transect, I cam across this very pretty Red Maiden's Fan (Oceanapia sagittaria). It is a sponge, and I would say its my favourite too as it looked really pretty under water.

Spider Conch (Lambis lambis)
Not too faraway, I spotted this Spider Conch (Lambis lambis), certainly very well-camouflaged among the seaweed.

Tape Seagrass (Enhalus acoroides)
The Tape Seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) was still blooming, and I found these bracts here still filled with male flowers!

Micippa philyra
One of the students found this little crab, Micippa philyra, which has a sponge growing on its back.

Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis)
We could usually find a few Noble Volutes (Cymbiola nobilis) on our Semakau trips, and this time round was no exception.

Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus)
Not sure if it's my imagination, but the Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus) population around the usual route we took for our guided walks seemed to have grown a lot bigger than we first found them.

Dragonfish Sea Cucumber (Stichopus horrens)
Right next to the transect of some students was this Dragonfish Sea Cucumber (Stichopus horrens).

Strawberry Cockle (Fragum unedo)
Some students found this rather pretty Strawberry Cockle (Fragum unedo). According to SK, this cockle is rather rare in Singapore. This was our first time seeing it on Semakau!

Strawberry Cockle (Fragum unedo)
Turning it sideways revealed a nice heart shape.

Hairy Crab (Pilumnus vespertilio)
This was probably my best shot of a Hairy Crab (Pilumnus vespertilio) so far, even though they were so abundant on Semakau, and I had taken many shots of them. Somehow the background, lighting etc all turned out quite well :)

As it got darker, we started seeing octopuses here and there.

Sea Cucumber
I also found this pinkish sea cucumber which we have yet to identify.

Pseudobiceros uniarborensis Flatworm
A few flatworms were also spotted, including this Pseudobiceros uniarborensis.

Gymnodoris rubropapulosa Nudibranch
In a tidal pool, I found 2 Gymnodoris rubropapulosa nudibranchs, and the above was one of them. Nudibranch means "naked gills", referring to the flower-like gills on the back of most species.

Gymnodoris rubropapulosa Nudibranch
The other one actually swimming upside-down! Or perhaps, gliding just beneath the water surface describes the action better. Obviously, both slugs had just eaten something recently, as I could clearly see something inside their stomachs.

Black Margined Glossodoris Nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata)
In the same tidal pool was a lonely Black Margined Glossodoris Nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata), which got me wondering if the Gymnodoris had eaten its friends.

Sunflower Mushroom Coral (Heliofungia actiniformis)
Tide was still receding even after we completed the survey, as I could see that the tentacles of the Sunflower Mushroom Coral (Heliofungia actiniformis) flowing in the direction of the outgoing tide.

Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus)
One of the groups found a number of Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus) in the same area, and decided to gather them to do a posed shot. The 2 biggest ones on top are the 2 usual knobblies that we having been seeing during our Semakau walks for the first 3 years of our Semakau walks! Seemed like they had move more to the south these days, and that's why we had not seen them for quite a while. It really felt good to see these "old faces" again!

Blue-striped Hermit Crab (Clibanarius longitarsus)
On my way back to the forest trail, I cam across this Blue-striped Hermit Crab (Clibanarius longitarsus). We regularly found them on our trips, for I never managed to get a good photo of one. They were usually very shy, and I usually did not had the time to wait for them to emerge from the shell. This time round, I had to rush back to do the coordination work, and thus did not had the time again! Well, at least I managed to capture some blue legs in the photo above...

Anyway, this was the last transect of the year, as the only other Project Semakau trip this year will be a biodiversity survey. Glad that the weather held and we managed to complete everything in time :)

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