13 July 2010

Cyrene in the dark again

Cyrene is a great destination for a night trip, and so many people want to go there that we are making many trips to Cyrene this week!
On my third night trip to Cyrene, I update more records for this gorgeous reef.

Fishes are usually much easier to shoot at night as they are out and about and less shy. But on Cyrene, the fishes seem very nervous. They zoom about in the shallow pools, from one rock to the next. Absolutely impossible to shoot. Perhaps it's because of the fish traps and driftnets that are placed on the shore? Sigh.

But I could still sneak up on fishes that don't move much. Like this very quiet Goatfish (Upeneus tragula) with a banded tail. But he didn't show me his 'whiskers' under his chin, which he uses to feel for edible bits hidden in the sand. This is my first Goatfish for Cyrene.
I'm not too sure what fish this is, but it was quietly pretending to be nothing among the seagrasses.
One active fish that I managed to shoot was this Weedy wrasse (Pteragogus sp.) that I've seen before on Cyrene before in daylight.
Quite common on this shore are the False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis) which is actually a grouper, and the Seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus). And I saw this colourful fish hiding under a rock. It zoomed away before I could take a better look at it.
In the cool dark, many animals that are commonly seen on other shores are more obvious on Cyrene. So I got to update my sightings with these not rare, but first additions for Cyrene.

My first time seeing this pretty peacock anemone with a black mouth on Cyrene. It is also seen on our other shores, but it is not as plentiful as the Common peacock anemone.
My first sighting of this pretty tiny hermit crab with banded legs. It is commonly seen on our Northern shores, and I've seen it at Labrador and Sentosa, but not on our other Southern shores.
The Spoon pincer crab (Leptodius sp.) is commonly seen on our Southern shores, but rather shy during daylight on Cyrene.
This is a very commonly seen snapping shrimp with orange pincers (Alpheus lobidens) but the first time I'm seeing it on Cyrene. At night, these little creatures are less shy. In fact, the entire shore was popping and snapping with the sounds of these busy beasts.
Octopuses are common on most of our reefy shores, so it's not a surprise to encounter them during a night trip. The octopus can change its colours instantly. The photos below are of the same animal. I notice that when it moves over the sand, it holds its arms together so it resembles a stone.
The tiny Pygmy squid (Idiosepius sp.) doesn't get any bigger than about 1-2cm. It has a 'glue gun' on its butt which it uses to stick to the underside of seagrasses and such. Like other squids, it has a pair of long tentacles which it uses to snatch prey into its eight shorter arms.
I saw two Snaky sea anemones (Macrodactyla doreensis) today. This one seemed a little pale and yellowish. Hopefully it's not bleaching.
Wow, this must be the blue Snaky sea anemone that Kok Sheng found on our first night trip to Cyrene.
As usual, I'm not too good with spotting little critters. But I did see the pretty Glossodoris atromarginata nudibranchs, which seem to be back in season. I saw this pair near one another, and the rest also saw them.
While tonight, we didn't come across driftnets on the reefs, we did encounter several large fish traps or 'bubu's. The ones I saw were empty, but the other saw traps with some fishes. They released the fishes.
It was a glorious sunrise, over the container terminals and city skyline.
It was just an hour after daybreak and the day was scorching! With hardly a cloud in the sky. In the bright light, it was obvious that bleaching was still extensive on Cyrene.
Most of the leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) are still bleached white or bright yellowish. In fact some seem to be 'breaking up' into smaller colonies. But there were many large colonies that were not bleached.
I saw several Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.) that were brownish! It might be misplaced optimism, but I'm hoping some of these are signs of 'unbleaching'. Bleached corals can regain the symbiotic algae and thus their colour. More about bleaching on the Bleach Watch Singapore blog.
Some of the flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) and leathery soft corals were no longer bright yellow and were instead, their more usual shades of boring brown.
I saw several common hard corals that had their normal colours: several Favid corals (Family Faviidae), Flowery disk corals (Turbinaria sp.), Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.) and one Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia talpina).
Mei Lin's Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) is still there! Nicely tagged.
It soon got very VERY hot. Another reason why night trips are so much better, it's cooler for the humans too! So even though the tides hadn't turned yet, we headed back. Thanks once again to Alex and Jumari for making this trip possible!
It was good to have these special guests on our trip today: Dr Hsu who runs the Horshoecrab Rescue programme at the Nature Society (Singapore), Oliver from the Scouts, Paul from NParks, Jane and Terry, and Alan from Pulau Ubin Chek Jawa volunteers, and Russel who took leave just to come to Cyrene!

They saw lots of other awesome stuff which I'm sure will get blogged about soon.

Tomorrow, ANOTHER trip to Cyrene to share this marvellous shore with JTC.

Read more about Cyrene on the Cyrene Reef Exposed blog and facebook page.

Other posts about this trip by:

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