Thursday, March 24, 2011

Soft Coral Spawning at St John's Island!

The soft corals are spawning at St John's Island!!!

Soft Coral Spawning
Well, not all of them, but at least this species above. I have no idea what soft coral this is though. When I took the photo, I was actually rather doubtful if those were egg/sperm packages. It was only after I did a search online just now that I confirmed my suspicion. Seriously, this was something that I never expect to witness on an intertidal trip! I have heard from other friends who went diving to see the hard corals spawning, but today, I actually got to see a soft coral spawning without having to dive! This really made my day!

Today, we were actually on a recce trip to check out the shores for a field camp in Jun, and apart from the spawning soft corals, we saw a number of other interesting stuff.

Costasiella sp.
As usual, I managed to find a few tiny Fan Seaweed Slugs (Costasiella spp.) on the Fan Seaweeds.

There were a few really tiny Land Hermit Crabs (Coenobita sp.) too, and each was just a few mm wide. They were bright red in colour. I suspect they were juvenile hermit crabs.

And here's a huge Land Hermit Crab nearby, using an African Land Snail's shell to protect its soft abdomen.

Trochus niloticus
Talking about shells, we saw interesting living shells too, including this Giant Top Shell (Trochus niloticus).

Angaria delphinus
I found a Dolphin Shell (Angaria delphinus) too! It got its common name from the shape of the shell, which resembles a jumping dolphin (with some imagination).

Jorunna funebris
The Funeral Nudibranch (Jorunna funebris) appears to rather abundant on most of our shores these few weeks.

Phyllidiella pustulosa
There was this little Pustulose Phyllid Nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa) on a small rock. This nudibranch is said to be able to excrete toxic chemicals to deter predators.

Elysia ornata
There were lots of Bryopsis seaweed, and hence I wasn't surprised to find a few Leaf Slugs (Elysia ornata) which feed on the seaweed. Leaf Slugs are able to retain the chloroplast of the algae and use them for photosynthesis to make food, making them effective solar-powered!

Acanthopleura gemmata
I found the same Giant Chiton (Acanthopleura gemmata) that I had been seeing during my past few trips on the same rock! This time round it was busy trying to squeeze into a small crack though.

Eunice aphroditois
Another giant was this long and slim Giant Reef Worm (Eunice aphroditois), which appeared to be somewhat common on this shore

Another somewhat long and slim animal would be this pipefish. Not sure what species this is though.

Tiger Beetle
There were quite a few Tiger Beetles (Subfamily Cicindelinae) near the coastal forest.

Tiger Shrike
And what looks like a juvenile Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). Not sure if it's the same one, but I had saw one last November around the same area as well, and JH who's working in TMSI had told me that she regularly saw this bird in the same area.

Frankly speaking, the diversity on St John's Island's intertidal areas appeared to be decreasing every time I went. Many of the corals have died ever since they joined St John's Island with Lazarus Island with a rock bund, probably due to the changes in the currents. Will things start coming back when the situation stabilises, I wonder? Hmm...

1 comment:

Patricia Lichen said...

WOW! These are fabulous photos--thanks so much for sharing them! I have a soft spot for nudibranchs--but the soft coral shot was amazing.

--Patricia at