06 June 2011

Anemone hunt at Cyrene!

The hunt resumes on Cyrene as we join TeamSeagrass today! Dr Daphne is accompanied by Chay Hoon, as the rest of us get busy with seagrass monitoring.
Dr Daphne spots all kinds of sea anemones that we have been oblivious to. Including tiny ones right at our usual landing spot!

Here's some of the tiny anemones that Dr Daphne spotted! I have never observed them in all our trips there! I am always learning HOW to look for marine life!
After we finished seagrass monitoring, we helped to try to find anemones. I saw this anemone that so far I've only seen at Changi before!
We have been seeing this strange anemone several times at Cyrene before. But alas, I failed to get a closer look at the sea anemone. In fact, Kok Sheng had to rescue me as I got stuck with both arms deep in sand. Sea anemones are very determined animals!
Kok Sheng found this sea anemone that none of us have seen before. Wow!
Common on Cyrene are Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) of all colours. This small purple one had two Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)!
Cyrene also has many Snaky sea anemones (Macrodactyla doreensis).
Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) are also common Cyrene.
Also common on Cyrene are the Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp) of various colours and patterns. Dr Daphne needs to study them further to be sure whether they are the same or different species.
As usual, it's hard to hunt for anemones when there are so many anemone look-alikes on the shores. NOT sea anemones are the many zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea) found here. Some of them are brightly coloured!
Another difficulty is the distraction of other marine life. Cyrene is full of echinoderms! I saw many White sea urchins (Salmacis sp.) all well camouflaged under a blanket of all kinds of debris that they carry. Chay Hoon spotted a tiny heart urchin (Lovenia elongata)!
Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) are abundant on Cyrene! What is special about Cyrene is that they are found in various sizes. See the tiny one in this photo on the right top corner? According to the Star Trackers, "the presence of juveniles, subadults and adults indicated that there is a healthy level of recruitment at Cyrene Reef. This habitat may be the only sustainable population of knobbly seastars left in Singapore today".
Another abundant sea star on Cyrene are the Common seastars (Archaster typicus). Many of them were in 'mating' position today.
Kok Sheng spotted this Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum). And Chay Hoon found a very tiny one! We seem to regularly see this snail on Cyrene recently.
I also came across this snail which seems to the Powisianus moon snail (Polinices powisianus), which so far I have only encountered on Cyrene.
Today, many of us saw this Sidegill slug (Pleurobranchus forskalii). We have been seeing this slug on our trips to Cyrene over the last few months. I had no idea why they are so common recently. Although it is not known what this species eats, other species of Pleurobranchus are reported to feed on ascidians. And there sure are a lot of ascidians on the seagrasses of Cyrene!
Kok Sheng also found a beautiful flatworm that we've never seen before!

After the field trip, we head back to the lab where Dr Daphne can have a really close look at the anemones.
The anemones we saw at Terumbu Semakau have been at the lab overnight, where they are allowed to 'relax' so that we can see all their body parts. The sign placed at these anemones seems to demand the addition of a little amusing drawing. Sorry Nicholas!
Tomorrow, the hunt resumes on Pulau Hantu! Who knows what we might find there?!

Posts by others on this trip
  • Kok Sheng with lots of anemones, Dr Daphne's comments about Haddon's carpet anemone, and many distracting finds from slugs to special snails and an awesome flatworm.
  • Jason who enjoyed doing his line alone (hurray!) and lots of sightings from a first-timer's point of view.

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