Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pulau Tioman with Nature Explorers - Day 2

Day 2's focus was on marine ecology, and we went for a snorkelling trip in the morning, and an intertidal walk in the afternoon.

School of fish
While we were waiting for the boat at the jetty to go snorkelling, we saw a huge school of fish just below the jetty.

Our first snorkelling site was Renggis Island. These were the Nature Explorers following me. They had to try to identify certain invertebrate groups and fishes based on an ID chart provided.

Hard corals
The coral reef at Pulau Tioman was very pristine, and the seabed was densely covered with corals.

Mushroom corals (Fungia sp.)
The Staghorn Corals (Acropora sp.) were the most numerous, and among them we saw many Black Long-spined Sea Urchins (Diadema setosum). Apart from the hard corals, we saw a few Mushroom Corals (Fungia sp.) too!

Swimming around the corals were lots of colourful fishes.

Vermiculated Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus)
Several species of angelfish were spotted, and the most common one we saw was the Vermiculated Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus). They looked really graceful swimming among the corals!

Greensnout Parrotfish (Scarus spinus)
There were a few parrotfish munching off the corals. The above is a Greensnout Parrotfish (Scarus spinus).

Pinkfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria edulis)
At one of the less densely covered area, I found a Pinkfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria edulis). There were quite a few other sea cucumbers nearby. These brainless animals feed on tiny organic particles among the sand.

Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea)
In the deeper area, I found a Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea). Giant clams have symbiotic algae living in them, which require clear water so as to get enough sunlight for photosynthesis. The algae will pass some food the produced to the clam, while the clams provide the algae with shelter.

Crown-of-Thorns Seastar (Acanthaster planci)
JL found this Crown-of-Thorns Seastar (Acanthaster planci) among the staghorn corals. This sea star has venomous spines, and feeds on corals.

Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
There were a few Magnificent Anemones (Heteractis magnifica) just below our boat, and it harboured a few anemonefish too!

We snorkelled for about an hour at Renggis before we went to our next snorkelling site - the Marine Park.

Over here, they had a few artificial reef structures, but the corals obviously were not growing too well. There were still a lot of fishes though.

Goldspotted Rabbitfish (Siganus guttatus)
This is a Goldspotted Rabbitfish (Siganus guttatus). This fish has venomous spines that can painful stings.

Silver Moony (Monodactylus argenteus)
There were a few Silver Moony (Monodactylus argenteus) too.

Scissortail Sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus)
As I was swimming around, this fish decided to stare at me straight at my face.

Scissortail Sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus)
It's a Scissortail Sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus), a type of damselfish.

The Sergeants were probably the most numerous fish here.

Trevallies (Family Carangidae)
Next in line were the Trevallies (Family Carangidae).

We stayed at the Marine Park until around noon before heading back to the resort for lunch.

In the late afternoon, it was low tide and the students were brought to the intertidal area for a walk.

Black Sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota)
We started with the rocky shore habitat, and there were many sea cucumber among the rocks. The above is a Black Sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota), one of the most common sea cucumbers here.

Cryptic Rock Star (Cryptasterina sp.)
The Cryptic Rock Star (Cryptasterina sp.) was also quite abundant here, though it tend to be more active at night. I was busy turning over rocks to find it, when I suddenly saw one nearby sliding over the sand.

File Clam (Lima sp.)
But as we were turning over rocks, we had another surprise find - a pretty File Clam (Lima sp.)!

After examining these animals under the rock, we made sure that we returned the rocks their original position though, so that the organisms stuck to the rock's underside will not be baked to death under the hot sun.

Spider Conch (Lambis lambis)
A few Spider Conches (Lambis lambis) were spotted too! This sea snail was sometimes over-collected in some places due to its pretty shell.

Juvenile Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae)
We soon reached the coral rubble habitat. Under a piece of dead coral was this juvenile Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae), While it was only about 5cm wide, it could eventually grow up to more than 25cm wide!

Platydoris scabra Nudibranch
This Platydoris scabra nudibranch was also found under a dead coral, by a student. The term "nudibranch" means "naked gills", referring to the flower-like gills on its back.

Brittle Star
A few Brittle Stars were also spotted. These animals could break their arms if attacked by predators, and could eventually regenerate the missing arms!

Smasher Mantis Shrimp (Order Stomatopoda)
There were many Smasher Mantis Shrimps (Order Stomatopoda) in the area too, but they were really fast-moving, and it took us quite a while before we finally managed to catch one to examine it closely. And of course, we released it after we had examined it.

Red Maiden's Fan (Oceanapia sagittaria)
There were many sponges in the area, but the one that really caught my eye was this pretty Red Maiden's Fan (Oceanapia sagittaria). Sponges are very simple organisms which feeds on tiny organic particles.

Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea)
We found lots of Burrowing Giant Clams (Tridacna crocea) here too.

The students who did not go snorkelling earlier were really glad that they could see all these marine animals, and were surprised when I told them that the above could be found on Singapore shores too!

It was a hot and long day, and everyone was very tired when we finally ended our programme for the day.

But the day's excitement did not end here.

Termites (Order Isoptera)
As we were heading back to our rooms, we found lots and lots of Termites (Order Isoptera) on the boardwalk leading to the rooms!

Termites (Order Isoptera)
Many of them were carrying stuff, probably either food or building materials for their nest.

Indeed, this was nature at our doorstep! But knowing that most termite species feed on wood... Hmmm.... well, guess having termites in the resort was certainly no good news for the resort management. Some of the students let their imagination ran wild and started asking if they would wake up the next day finding the boardwalk to be gone.

Well, I can only say that when we left the resort 2 days later, the boardwalk was still there. Haha...

Related Links:
- Pulau Tioman with Nature Explorers - Day 1
- Pulau Tioman with Nature Explorers - Day 3


mindy said...

Ron! Those termites you saw are from the subfamily Nasutitermes (: A large number of species in this subfamily (one of the biggest subfamilies) are migrators, and they're often seen carrying wood debris with them. Nasute soldiers, as they're often called, spray sticky fluid out from their 'snout'.

Ron Yeo said...

Thanks for the info, Mindy :)