25 July 2009

Anemone Army Manoeuvres in the Mud

Another sunrise, another shore.
The Anemone Army is back out on a very soft and silty search.

Today we are joined by very enthusiastic students of Dr Tan Swee Hee of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. They are running! While the rest of the Army is on the horizon trudging through soft mud.
And the mud is very soft indeed! As Dr Tan and Dr Daphne find out at the end of our trip today.

These seasoned mud explorers demonstrate the two ways to get out of a sticky situation. One: walk on your knees. Two: Use a bucket. Both approaches spread out your body weight so you stop sinking and can start moving out to firmer ground.
And these two methods are proven effective. In getting you out of the mud. Not in avoiding a mud bath!No one will come to save you if you are stuck in the mud, as the rescuers will only just get stuck as well. As poor Andrea finds out. She too has nice mud stockings after getting very stuck in the mud.
Intrepid Anemone Army troopers know how to clean up after a muddy escapade, even in little rivulets of water streaming down the shore.
At least to get clean enough to sit in the back of the pick up.
Siong Kiat takes us to the high-pressure hose where we can get clean enough to face civilisation.
All cleaned up, we enjoy some cold drinks and snacks. A picnic is laid out on the car. Sijie and his sister have baked cup cakes! Wow, they are colourful and delicious!
And they remind us of retracted anemones! In cross section, they even have a marshmallow which resembles the internal cavity of an anemone! Thanks to Siong Kiat for restraining himself from taking another bite as I fiddle with sneaky cam's macro settings.
Then it's time to drive back to the Museum to process the anemones. From this bunch of icky muddy stuff. . .
. . . Into proper tanks where they can be observed and studied properly. This involves lots of sorting, washing, fixing up 'ocean water' to hold the specimens, more washing, and MORE washing. Here is Swee Hee sharing about the nice and clean tanked sea anemones with his students.
In a tank, we can take a much closer look at them. Here's some smaller ones.A bigger one.
And some anemones stuck to a shell occupied by a hermit crab.
Some may look different, but may actually be the same species. While similar looking anemones may be totally different species.
The only way to be sure about what they are is to look at their insides. It is the insides that count - for both people and anemones! James earlier shared lots of details that he learnt about how to process anemones for proper identification.

I noticed some diagrams and notes in the preparation room. These show the cut away sections of an anemone that must be done to be absolutely certain of their identity.
The highlight of the trip to the Museum was the Anemone Tank where many anemones are kept for further observation. In the tank were a bunch of colourful anemones that I found. Turns out they are considered pests in the aquarium trade. Sigh. But they do look pretty.
Then there are an assortment of all kinds of little anemones, among colonial anemones (with green central disks).
Swee Hee shared that this anemone with the red spots on the body (yet to be identified) moved several times in the tank. From one corner of the tank to another. It seems to be happy with this current location. This shows that anemones are not as immobile as we might think!
Wow, there sure is a lot involved in finding out the identities of our marine life! It's not easy or quick to do taxonomic work.

So it's good to know that more youths are showing interest in learning and doing this vital work that will help us know and protect our shores.

YET another anemone hunt tomorrow!

2 comments:

  1. Are those majano anemones (Anemonia manjano)? Like Aiptasia, they have a tendency to do a bit too well in aquaria, and can quickly overrun a reef setup.

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  2. We think that they are probably Telactinia citrina, but we need to work on their histology before we can confirm the identity.

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