22 January 2010

Wildfacts updates: January sightings - special snails galore!

The year began with a slew of special snail sightings!
Liana saw a live Fig snail (Family Ficidae) at the East Coast! While the team saw several Clear sundial snails (Architectonica perspectiva) at Sisters Island.

But the most special snail sightings must be Kok Sheng's discovery of the Bean cowrie (Family Triviidae) at Sentosa. According to the Singapore Red Book "it was commonly found prior to the 1970s but has not been seen since." Bravo for the find! I also learnt that it is believed to be a carnivore, and comes out at night to hunt.
Another unexpected find by Kok Sheng was this live Tun shell snail (Family Tonnidae) at Changi! On a daytime, not-so-low-tide trip too! I learnt from the book that Robert Lasley gave me (thanks Robert!), that this snail eats sea cucumbers. Robert also told me he actually did see such a snail eat a sea cucumber. It ate the entire sea cucumber! Awesome.
I finally made a fact sheet for this conch snail that Chee Kong, Mei Lin and Kok Sheng sorted out much earlier in a paper (sorry for the long delay!). The Margined conch (Strombus marginatus sowerbyorum) sure is pretty and has a somewhat wavy lip on the shell. We must now keep a look out for it and update the fact sheets with sighting locations.
I also updated the page on the Big brown clam (Mactra mera, Family Mactridae) that we often see on our Northern shores. Thanks to Wong Hoong Wei's fabulous paper on the Family.
The team also had encounters with various flatworms that we've not seen before. So I've put up new fact sheets for them. While these two flatworms look very similar, the one on the left is probably the Feline flatworm (Pseudobiceros felis) and the other is the Damawan flatworm (Pseudobiceros damawan). This is based on the awesome book by Leslie Newman and Lester Cannon. "Marine Flatworms: The World of Polyclads".
While the ones below have no names even in Leslie Newman's book. So I've christened them with very unimaginative common names, the white flatworm and orange-and-white black flatworm (to distinguish from the white-and orange black flatworm which is Pseudobiceros uniarborensis). If you can think of a better common name, please do let me know!
There were also regular updates on common animals but not photographed before, for the various shores. From Pasir Ris, James shared these photos of a bubble snail (Family Haminoeidea) and a short ribbon worm, as well as a Razor clam (Family Solenidae).
And at Sisters Island, Kok Sheng and James paid special attention to the feather stars (Class Crinoidea) there. Giving us our first photos of the black and brown feather stars.
And some strange creatures that live on these feather stars! These tiny animals match their host in colour and pattern so they are really hard to spot.
We made the first visit to Pulau Tekukor, so of course, lots of photos are added to the fact sheets as records for this shore. Here's some shared by James (from left): the pretty Fan slug (Costasiella sp.), Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), Very hairy hermit crab and fierce Red-eyed reef crab (Eriphia ferox).
And this flatfish, which I think is a Large-toothed flounder (Family Paralichthyidae).
We even have new observations on a shore like Chek Jawa which we have visited many times. This photo shared by James was taken from the boardwalk at a not-so-low tide. It's a mudskipper spitting mud missiles to chase off an intruding fish. So there's always something to see and learn on all our shores regardless of the tide.
Andy also shared fabulous video clips of the mudskipper and many other encounters in January. See Andy's blog for all the clips.

spitting mudskipper from BeachBum on Vimeo.

The recent bonanza of marine papers on the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology helped me figure out some of the strange seaweeds I've been seeing. From left: the pretty pink Cat's tail red seaweed (Asparagopsis sp.), odd Bumpy finger brown seaweed (Chondrophychus papillosus), Bracket seaweed (Peyssonnelia sp.) and Fringed ribbon red seaweed (Gracilaria corticata). No photo, the even odder Scale seaweed (Lobophora sp.).
And these papers together with Lim Swee Cheng's new guidebook on sponges helped me figure out these truly bizarre 'seaweed-sponges'. This organism is actually a symbiotic combination of a red algae (Ceratodictyon spongiosum) and a sponge (Halichlona cymaeformis)! The algae makes up the bulk of the organism while the sponge appears to give the organism its shape and form, contributing to the formation of the tiny holes. I could only come up with the lame common name of Holey sponge seaweed.
This is another similar organism but without holes. This smooth sponge seaweed is a symbiotic combination of a green algae (Cladophoropsis vaucheriaeformis) and a sponge (Halichondria cartilaginea)! The sponge cells and spicules are intertwined with the algae.
WOW, this is very strange indeed.

But the all time heart-palpitation encounter (for me) was to see finally see the Mentigi (Pemphis acidula)!
A rare mangrove plant, I came across one at Changi! There are also lots of old gnarly trees at Pulau Biola!
This month we also spent time checking out the shores on Dead Fish Patrol and went to many new shores. Others have also been busy on the shores, such as the Hantu Bloggers with many marvellous sightings. There's just simply too many shores in Singapore and not enough time and tides to get them all done!

February promises to be less hectic as there are fewer low tides. But no doubt, we will still have some adventures and special encounters.

Thanks to those who found the critters, and who took photos and video clips and shared about them. See all the photos in full glory and read about the recent adventures on these blogs:
I'd gladly include your sightings in the wild fact sheets. Just email me, Ria at hello@wildsingapore.com.


  1. Hi! You can see the video of the Tonnidae eating the sea cucumber here: http://spinelessscience.blogspot.com/2009/12/tonna-perdix-eating-stichopus-sp.html

  2. Wow that's awesome Francois! Thanks for sharing that. Yes, we've see our Stichopus shedding parts of their body. Now we may know one reason why. Amazing!



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