24 July 2009

Nem Hunt Day 5: Cyrene Reef

The Big Day arrives for us to show Dr Daphne our favourite shore: Cyrene Reef. And it rains!
Nevertheless, the intrepid Anemone Army pushes on and lands on the reef in a mizzle (miserable drizzle). During such times, the photographers look pregnant as big cams are tucked under ponchos.

I woke up at 3am to a downpour! Panic. Quick online check. The NEA weather map looks promising. Just a little spot of rain, we hope.
After an hour on the shore, it indeed lightens up.
Meanwhile, Marcus has found a Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)! And Frilly anemones (Phymanthus sp.) are also examined, as well as other suspicious blobs. I head out into the seagrass meadows to search for Alicia anemone (Alicia sp.) which we had found previously on Cyrene.

On the sand bars are Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.). Dr Daphne explains these are identified by the bumps in the middle of the mouth. Also, they don't have very many tentacles.
Also plentiful among the seagrasses are Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). They come in shades of grey, purple and bright green. Many of them, like this one, have a pair of anemone shrimps (Perclimenes brevicarpalis).
There were also a few intriguing small carpet anemones which might be Stichodactyla tapetum.
Although this one looks more like a small Haddon's carpet anemone.
We also find a few Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea). But alas, this one did not have an anemonefish. There is one in another location with one False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) but we didn't have time to go there today.
Someone found this blob on a rock. It sure looks like a nem, but Dr Daphne says it's a corallimorph (Order Corallimorphoria) which is not a true sea anemone (Order Actiniaria).
There are also lots of tricky animals that look like sea anemones. This one is actually a flowery soft coral (Family Nephtheidea). There are lots of these on Cyrene Reef in various colours.
And this one is also another kind of feathery soft coral, which can be common among the seagrasses.
Other tricky animals include the colonial anemones or zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea). Dr Daphne shares that where there are lots of zoanthids, there tends to be fewer anemones. So we steer clear of such areas.

Other anemones previously seen on Cyrene include the Snaky anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), wriggly star anemone, Swimming anemone (Boloceroides mcmurrichii), plain sea anemone. But alas, we didn't see those today. Perhaps the rain made them hide away.

As usual, we can't help but notice other marine life. The one thing we can't miss on Cyrene are the sea stars. There are lots of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) on the sandy areas. While the large Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) are everywhere.
I was fixated on the six-armed Knobbly sea star that I almost missed the big fish just next to it.
It is a large Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus)!
A really special star of Cyrene is the Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster sp.). And we saw two today! James has great photos of them on his blog.
Cyrene is teeming with echinoderms. Today I saw a wide variety of Synaptid sea cucumbers (Family Synaptidae). There were the usual big long ones with bobbles on their bodies.
As well as smaller, shorter ones in all kinds of colours and patterns. Here's one with tiger stripes.
A white one.
A dark one with white spots.
And all maroon one that is almost black.
I saw one White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) which tends to 'carry' bits of debris. Sijie also saw a Black long-spined sea urchin (Diadema sp.).Besides this very active Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.), I didn't see any special flatworms.
Cyrene Reef is also a good place to spot slugs. Even half-blind me managed to spot these nudibranchs without even trying.
Clockwise from left: Phyllidiella nigra, Glossodoris atromarginata, Discodoris boholiensis, Dendrodoris denisoni.

The sun finally shines weakly as we prepare to leave Cyrene Reef. Alas, we didn't manage to find Alicia or any of the weird nems we have been seeing there.
But here's a bonus find! This super long animal was caught on the boat anchor and Swee Hee rescues it for the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research collection!
It looks like a hydroid so we are careful not to touch it with bare hands.

Despite the wet cold weather, it was a fun trip with great company. And as always, Alex and his team from Summit Marine makes it possible for us to get there and back alive!

Tomorrow, yet more Hunting! Hope we have better weather!

Other posts about this trip

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