04 May 2010

An underwater garden at Pulau Ubin

Chek Jawa is not the only living shore on Pulau Ubin!
This morning, we returned to the shore which we visited last year at Kok Sheng's suggestion. It was quite nice today!

The water got somewhat clearer during the minimum tide, which wasn't very low today. So the garden of marine life there was still submerged!
There were many Candy hydroids in various bright colours.
Here's a big bunch of candy hydroids and some smaller fern-like hydroids (Sertularella sp.) growing on a rock pink with the egg capsules of Drill snails.
How delightful to see several clumps of flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae). There were several clumps of pink flowery soft corals.
And several ball flowery soft corals.
There were also few small sea fans! This one is shaped like a candelabra.
And this one is rather gnarled.
Growing on a submerged rock, a thicket of knobbly gorgonians.
Alas, one sea fan was ripped off its base. Possibly by the lines of fishermen?
There were also yellow conical sponges (Speciospongia sp.) growing on the sea bottom.
Other animals included a submerged peacock anemone on the sandy bottom, and some tiny cave corals (Tubastrea sp.) growing in the dark areas on the rocks.
Other submerged marine life seen included some synaptid sea cucumbers on sponges, and a Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis).
In the water today there were lots and lots of tiny tiny little shrimps! As well as many little fishies of all kinds. And the most awesome surprise: three razorfishes (Family Centriscidae) swimming head down! I didn't bring the Big Cam today and relied on little Sneaky Underwater cam and she was too feeble to take photos of these fast moving creatures in the rather murky water.

We were here today to have a closer look at the marvellous ascidians on Pulau Ubin. And the rocks are full of life! Here, we see a dark blob hanging down which is an ascidian, and near the water line, a Thumbs up ascidian (Polycarpa sp.) - Serina told me the species name but I've forgotten it, alas. While the rock is covered with colourful sponges.
Another look at the thicket of branching sponges and other marine life on the rock near the water line.
Some colourful sponges include the yellow prickly ball sponge (Tethya robusta) and many bright pink lumpy sponges (Haliclona cf baeri). As well as elegant branching sponges (Haliclona sp.) in shades of green and bright blue.
But we are particularly interested in ascidians. Here's some white and some orange ascidians with a Thumbs up ascidian underwater.
We are particularly intrigued by these blue ascidians.
While I'm not sure what these regularly arranged little blobs are.
Not every blob is an ascidian! While the orange on the left is an ascidian, the brown one on the sand is an anemone that has tucked its tentacles into its body. Today I saw lots of blue-spotted flatworms (cf Pseudoceros indicus)!
As elsewhere, I often see this flatworm suspiciously wrapped around the Yellow clustered ascidians (Eudistoma sp.). Do they eat these ascidians? And today, I saw three flatworms together.
There were also many cowries on the rocks. Several of the beautiful and rare black-and-gold Onyx cowries (Cypraea onyx) and also some Ovum cowries (Cypraea ovum).
The rocks are alive with lots of other creatures too! Some kinds of Banded bead anemones (Anthopleura sp.) are large and found alone. While others are found in large numbers, sometimes growing in cracks in the rocks. There were many clusters of little Rock periwinkles (Family Littorinidae) and large busy onch slugs (Family Onchididae).
Huge numbers of Drills (Family Muricidae) were gathered together, especially in shady spots.
While I saw the hairy legs of a crab hiding under a big rock. I'm not sure if it is a Sally-lightfoot crab (Grapsus albolineatus).
Elsewhere on the shore, there were several Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). Those near the water line looked happy in bright colours of purple, green or pale blue-grey. A few seen further up the high shore didn't look too good, appearing bleached.
There were small patches of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) here and there, and in some places, many zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea). Serina found an uprooted Ball sea cucumber (Phyllophorus sp.) in a pool of water in the seagrass meadows.
The high shores were also littered with washed up Ribbon jellyfishes (Chrysaora sp.).

On the way to Ubin in the morning, I saw three tugboats pulling three empty barges away from the mainland towards the sea.
As we were heading home, I saw one tugboat pulling a barge full of what looked like granite chips towards the mainland.
Looks like there is a relentless traffic of sand and other materials to feed Singapore's constant growth.

Well, that's the end of a series of very hot but interesting trips! Now to catch up on some sleep...

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