13 December 2008

Sex in the Seagrasses on Cyrene

Just married! The newly wed Mr and Mrs Lam spend their honeymoon with TeamSeagrass on Cyrene as Team staff shortages didn't allow them to take time off for a holiday.
So the Team tries to make it up to them by having a special toast of sparkling fruit with special cake.
The adorable Mr and Mrs Lam with the special cake arranged by Andy and Nor Aishah!
The cake is divided up in an unscientific manner.A special slice given by the new bride to the most important person on the trip: Melvin!
Meanwhile, we've forgetten that Jerald is horribly late until he rushes up to the boat.
And here are the newly weds with some of the Team, off with Melvin in the wonderfully named boat, for a monitoring session on Cyrene Reef.

As if to celebrate this special moment, Cyrene Reef in decked out in white blossoms of the sea!
Together with the ubiquitous big red Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) that abound on the Reef, the flowering seagrasses make a priceless celebratory bouquet.
The freshly blooming female flowers of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) float on the water on long stalks in large numbers. While the entire shore is dusted in a sprinkling of tiny white male flowers like wedding confetti! The three long white petals of the female flowers generally drop off after a day, so they seem to be blooming just for the newly weds!Shufen, with her still be-glittered nails, shows how the three petals of the unpollinated female flowers 'zip up' together when submerged, and spread apart on the water surface.The petals are water repellent and only the centre of the flower is not water repellent.
The little white male flowers emerge from bracts that lie close to the ground. These male flowers have one end that is water repellent and another end that is not. That's why they appear to 'stand up' on the water surface (or even wet fingers) and also tend to cluster together in rafts.
The combined features of the male and female flowers allow the male flowers to zoom into the correct spot on the female flower! Here's a whole bunch of male flowers almost forming a queue to pollinate the female. Shufen and I also discovered that once the female flower is pollinated, the petals no long 'zip up' underwater.

Today I saw a lot of fishes but couldn't photograph them as they are very quick.
But this long snake-eel wasn't in such a hurry. It's probably the Burrowing snake-eel (Pisodonophis crancrivorous) which we've seen regularly at the reefs of Sisters Islands.
Unlike a true eel (of Family Muraenidae) the snake eel has pectoral fins and lacks tubular nostrils. Here's more on how to tell apart long snake-like fishes.I also came across two large Fringe-eyed flatheads (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus). This one seems to think just because it can't see me, that I can't see it. There were also lots of little gobies in the pools of water.Meanwhile, Melvin has caught with his line several fishes while waiting for us. So it seems Cyrene Reef does support a good population of fishes!
We also came across several humungous jellyfishes. Seems to be jellyfish season again.

Cyrene Reef also has reefs, with many large soft corals of various kinds.Chay Hoon found one soft coral bristling with tiny orange brittle stars.The rest of the Team had other exciting finds after they finished their monitoring. Including a special sea star! More about this on Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog.

Although Cryne Reef is surrounded by our port and industrial installations!
In the distance is a large cruise ship passing next to the Reef.As well as large ocean-going container ships.Cyrene Reef is indeed a special living shore.

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