26 June 2009

Fishy day at Cyrene Reef

Collin and Jeff were hard at work on a fish tagging programme, while the rest of us were wandering about on Cyrene Reef.
Despite the Reef's location near major installations like Pulau Bukom, there is an amazing variety of fishes on this seagrassy and reefy shore.

Collin is back to tag and monitor the Alligator pipefishes (Syngnathoides biaculeatus) that he started on our trip last month.
And in just one sweep, he and Jeff managed to collect many of these intriguing fishes. And included among them, was one that Collin had tagged on our earlier trip! You can see the tiny little orange marker on the fish.
Collin measures the fish and finds that it has grown since he last measured it! This kind of study will reveal a lot about our fishes as we monitor tagged individuals over time.
Like their relatives the seahorse, it is the papa pipefish that carries the eggs. These are not kept inside a pouch but stuck to the bottom of his long belly.
Here's a closer look at the little round eggs.
Like the seahorse, this pipefish also has a prehensile tail. That is, it can curl its tail to grasp things!
Jeff also noticed that some of them have little barbels under the chin!
After gently tagging and measuring the fishes, they are released back into the deep pool.

While not a fish, this little squid was found in the net during the survey! It might be a Pencil squid (Family Loliginidae) because it sure looks like the pack of pesky squids that bothered me at Tanah Merah.
Other fishes found in the net included razofishes (Family Centriscidae). Later on in the reefy part, I saw a pair swimming around head down as they are wont to do. In razorfishes of the genus Aoeliscus the dorsal spine is hinged, and thus moveable. When the spine is bent, it looks like the fish broke its tail. I notice that they keep the bent portion at the water surface. Is this a way for them to keep at the surface? Hmmm.
In another deep pool among the seagrasses, we came across this box fish (Family Ostraciidae) that I've never seen before.
From the Guide to Common Marine Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin Lim and Jeffrey Low, it seems to be a Shortnosed boxfish (Rhynchostracion nasus) whose distinguishing features are a small bump on the snout above the upper lip, and a ridge along the middle of the back.
Another special fish I encountered in the seagrass was this shrimp goby. It might be the Saddled prawn-goby (Cryptocentrus maudae). Alas, its companion snapping shrimp didn't show up. Perhaps it is having a well deserved rest in the burrow.
Wow, there sure is a lot of special fishes on Cyrene Reef!

I also saw other marine life and took lots of landscape photos of Cyrene today.

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