15 May 2010

Fishy morning at St. John's

St. John's Island is like an outdoor aquarium! With clear waters (at low tide) and lots of of colourful fishies.
In reefy pools at low tide, all kinds of little fishes find shelter!

In just one small area, here we can see a Chequered cardinalfish (Apogon margaritophorus), a pair of striped Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis) and a little goby! There were also several Three-spot damselfishes (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
Other fishes seen aplenty include: Some kind of tiny rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae), lots filefishes of all kinds (Family Monacanthidae), many whitings (Family Sillagenidae), several Copperband butterflyfishes of various sizes (Chelmon rostratus) and many tiny Longspined scorpionfishes (Pomacentropogon longispinis).
Here's a slightly larger but still small Longspined scorpionfish.
The Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta) is a lot larger, but very well camouflaged.
A really large and very scary fish is Mr Stonefish. Since there was an envenomation here some months ago, we were quite nervous about our trip today. And indeed, Geraldine spotted a large Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) today! But none of us stepped on it, thank goodness. James shares photos of it on his blog and Andy has a video clip of the fish!

Today the dominant seaweed is the Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.). Although not in a massive bloom, the clumps of these finely hairy seaweeds provide shelter for all kinds of fishes. Such as this tiny Carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens).
Here's a closer look at the eel-bleeny. It was so small, I almost mistook it for a pipefish!
And a colourful Diamond tuskfish (Halichoeres dussumieri).
The Bryopsis seaweeds are crawling with all kinds of tiny animals! From amphipods, to tiny fishes and shrimps.
Crawling on the seaweed was a lively little Marine spider (Desis martensi), while other creatures seen included tiny shrimps and also coils of eggs masses.
Massively abundant today were these hairy little Bryopsis slugs (Placida daguilarensis).
Also particularly abundant today were these elegant black flatworms with frilly orange and white edges (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis). Chay Hoon also spotted a Very long ribbon worm (Baseodiscus delineatus)
Of course, the highlight of a night trip to our reefs are octopuses. And we were not disappointed, with sightings of many of these elegant molluscs large and small.
This reef is also full of colourful crabs! I saw one large Mosaic crab (Lophozozymus pictor) on the high shore. This is the most poisonous crab in Singapore! Also abundant on the shore are the poisonous Floral egg crabs (Atergatic floridus). I saw one Red-eyed reef crab (Eriphia ferox) clinging onto the rock, and there were many colourful swimming crabs (Thalamita sp.).
And on the rocks, for the first time, I spotted what seems to be a pair of mating Purple climber crabs (Metopograpsus sp.).
Another nice find for me was a Giant top shell snail (Trochus niloticus).
Although we have been going out to our shores every low spring tide for years, we still keep seeing things we have not seen before. Today, our first time sighting of this nudibranch found by Kok Sheng and which Chay Hoon suggested could be either Discodoris mauritiana or Peltodoris murrea.
Of course with Chay Hoon and Kok Sheng around, we find lots of other slugs and marvellous things. See their blogs for more photos and stories.

And I saw this strange small white sea cucumber under a stone. Next to it is the little black African sea cucumber (Afrocucumis africana) which had recently been identified by Siyang.
There were two more of these white sea cucumbers buried in the sand under the stone, a large one and a much tinier one. I put the sea cucumber in a pool of water and it had tiny tube feet and some dark markings remind me of the Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis). I wonder what kind of sea cucumber it is.
I had a quick look at the very rare Nyireh (Xylocarpus rumphii) trees around the corner of this shore. I wanted to see if they were fruiting. They didn't seem to be. Alas, the leaves on the mother tree seem to be affected by something that is making the leaves curl up. Similar to what I had seen on the same kind trees on Sentosa.
The leaves on the younger smaller trees next to it were not as badly affected, but there were signs of curling leaves in one of them.
There are always signs of litter on all our recreational shores. But today, the trash load is light, and rubbish is no longer stashed into the cliffside on the upper shores. We could see one fish trap on the reef outside the sea wall, but we didn't see any driftnets washed up on the shore.
These shores had some spectacular corals! Kok Sheng covered them extensively in his blog, including those seen in a half-snorkel off the seawalls. Most of the corals seem to be well. I only saw this one coral colony with a patch of bleaching.
Our trip started at 4am, which meant a 2am wake up call! And the tide ended at sunrise! This marvellous shore lies just off our business district on the mainland. The other dark masses on the horizon are Sentosa (with the tower) and Pulau Tekukor.
St. John's Island is also just off the Sisters Islands. The twinkling lights on the horizon are the massive industries of Jurong Island.
There are some patches of seagrasses on this shore too! And the sandy swimming lagoon is also full of life. The rest explored this as the sun rose. I just collapsed at the shelter.
Today we were delighted to be joined by Tang Ling and Wee Hock (third and second from right) as well as Huey from Kayakasia!
Another predawn trip in a few hours' time! Exciting but exhausting.

Other posts about this trip

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