26 April 2009

Fishy day at Pulau Sekudu

I sure saw a lot of fishes at Pulau Sekudu today!Zipping about the bloom of Sea lettuce and many other creatures in the lagoon, were all kinds of fishes.
The White-spotted rabbitfish (Siganus canaliculatus) is particularly plentiful. This fish is highly sought after for eating during Chinese Lunar New Year. Called 'Pei Tor', the Chinese believe it brings good luck. As were the Fan-bellied filefishes (Monocanthus chinensis). These fishes have a single long stiff dorsal spine, usually with downward pointing barbs on the edges. This feature gives them their scientific name: 'mono' means 'one' and 'canthus' means 'thorn'.I came across this stranded Eel-tail catfish (Plotosus sp.) that didn't seem to be doing well. These fishes lack scales and have a smooth slimy skin. They make up for this 'nakedness' with venomous spines on the dorsal fin and on each of the pectoral fins. These tough spines can be locked upright, thus making an eeltail catfish unpleasant for bigger fish to swallow. Catfishes use their venomous spines to protect themselves against predators, and not to catch prey.

These are all edible fishes and were in the past affected by the driftnets and fish traps that were relentlessly laid on Pulau Sekudu. The decision to restrict access to Pulau Sekudu has been restricted in Mar 08 seems to have had positive effect. Today, we didn't come across any drifnets or traps on the islet.

Other common fishes included the tiny Chequered cardinalfish (Apogon margaritophorus), photo on the left.
And the surface-scanning stick-like Halfbeaks (Family Hemiramphidae), photo on the right.
Other fishes seen include the Carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens).And this strange fish that I've seen before on Sekudu and other shores. I'm not sure what it is, and my guess is that it is the Yellow cuskeel (Dinematichthys iluocoeteoides).And here's a fish that I have no idea about.

While this fish I've quite intimate experience with. I actully got stung by a stingray on a visit to Pulau Sekudu many years ago. Since then I've been very careful when wading in the lagoon on the islet.This fish looks like a Mangrove whipray (Himantura walga). But it's tail is awfully short. Was its tail broken? Poor fish.

While we didn't find abandoned or laid driftnets in the lagoon ...
We did find one driftnet washed up among the boulders. It was half buried in the sand, and we saw it as the tide was coming in. So we will need to come back another time to dig it out. Animals can get trapped in such abandoned nets, as we found out when we rescued a small monitor lizard during our last clean up of Pulau Sekudu in Dec 07.

About the trip to Pulau Sekudu in general: echinoderms, sea anemones, snails and more. With links to other blog posts about the trip.

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