04 April 2010

Special sea stars breeding at Cyrene Reef?

Sean shared on his new blog a tiny Pentaceraster sea star that he and Jocelyne found at Cyrene Reef during a TeamSeagrass monitoring session. From his description, it seems to be about 5cm wide. That's really small!
Wow, this is our first sighting of a baby Pentaceraster! Does this mean that there is a breeding population of these sea stars at Cyrene Reef?!

Why is this exciting?

Pentaceraster mammilatus was first recorded in Singapore from Cyrene Reef in 2008. Adults are about 15cm wide from arm tip to arm tip. So far, Cyrene is the only place we know of where there are several of these sea stars. One has also been seen on Pulau Semakau.

Here's a typical adult sized Pentaceraster star taken in Jan 09. Note that we should try NOT to handle sea stars. When we do so, we should support the entire animal from below and not dangle them by one arm. This is because sea stars can purposely drop off an arm if they feel stressed.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
Here's some different Pentaceraster sea stars seen on Cyrene Reef with a more abundant Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) for comparison. Photo shared by Kok Sheng and taken in Dec 08

How many different Pentaceraster sea stars have we seen at Cyrene Reef?

Here's some photos shared of Pentaceraster sea stars that look different from one another. Though we don't know whether and how these sea stars change colours. So this is just a very unscientific grouping of photos of the animals by look.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
The one collected on 2008 that gave up its life for science. It is now permanently at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

The rest are living sea stars that we have seen on Cyrene and as far as I know, as still out there.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
Adult seen in Jan 09.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
Adult seen in Jul 09. Also seen by Chee Kong in Mar o9.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
Adult seen in Jan 09. By Kok Sheng in Dec 08 and by James in Nov 09.
Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)
Adult seen in Jan 09. Also seen by Kok Sheng in Dec 08.
Seen by James in Jul 09.
Shared by Chay Hoon on Apr 08. And by James in Nov 09.

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