02 July 2011

Anemone hunt at Seringat-Kias

Another successful anemone hunt with Dr Daphne with a glorious sunrise!
We find intriguing sea anemones in the man-made lagoon of Seringat-Kias, while the rest of the team also explored the natural reefs that remain on the adjoining Lazarus Island.

Seringat-Kias was created by reclaiming the submerged reefs of Seringat and Kias. One of the touted features on this island is the C-shaped 1km long artificial lagoon. Here's more about what was done to create Seringat-Kias. Marine life has settled in this artificial lagoon, including lots of sea anemones!
We saw one of these and Dr Daphne confirms it's a Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). She mentioned that the two that we showed her from Changi a few weeks earlier were NOT Haddon's carpet anemones even though at first glance they seemed to be. This once again shows that it's important to take a closer look even at our common anemones.
Dr Daphne taught us how to tell apart this 'Peachia' anemone with a white body column from the similar looking one with a brown body column. From work done by the Workshop participants including Nicholas, the white one is actually Metapeachia and has 16 'segments' (mesenteries) which are clearly seen even with the tentacles tucked into the body. While the brown one has 19 or 20. Dr Daphne is keen to figure out the sea anemones so that we can tell them apart in the field without having to dig them out. But to do this, we first have to dig them them out and take a closer look, matching the close examinations with field photos.
So today, Dr Daphne puts a little label next to the anemone BEFORE we disturb it. And keeping the label with the collected anemone, she can match the laboratory examination with what the animal looks like in the field. Here's the two burrowing anemones with a dark body column that we saw. A closer look reveals it has sticky bumps at the top of the body column which are cup-shaped and allows the animal to cling to sand and other debris. Kok Sheng blogged more about how we did the field photography.
Here's another kind of burrowing sea anemone with a white body column. At first glance it does look like the sea anemone above. But a closer look reveals many subtle differences in the pattern on the oral disk, tentacles and texture of the body column. An even closer look at the internal structure and stingers under the microscope will be necessary to determine its identity more surely. Something that Dr Daphne has trained the workshop participants to do. So we can continue our work on sea anemones even after she leaves. Thank you Dr Daphne!
And a nice surprise, to find what Dr Daphne believes might be 'Bob the Blob' which the Workshop participants have figured out to likely be Paracondylactis sinensis. We found several of them. And they sure looked different when we first see them. Jerome found another which only looked like the rest after we brought it back to the lab. In the lab, they had a lovely reddish body column, and pale rather plain tentacles.
Geraldine and Andy found the Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.) and later Jerome showed it to us. James found another one nearby! Wow, we are quite surprised to see this anemone in this artificial shore. So far, we have only found them near good reefs in clean sand.
We carefully check all hermit crabs and snails for anemones that might be stuck on their shells. Alas, we didn't find any anemones.
On the natural reefs of Lazarus, Kok Sheng found the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) and lots of Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).

As usual, there are other distractions on the shores. Such as Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). Kok Sheng found the Cryptic sea star (Cryptasterina sp.), our first sighting outside of Pulau Semakau.
There were signs of other interesting echinoderms like the skeleton of a Oval heart urchin (Maretia ovata), and many skeletons of the rare Laganum sand dollar (Laganum depressum). I also saw some living Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta).
Another delightful surprise was this rather large Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum). I first saw it half buried. In a pool of water, we can see how this burrowing snail has a notch in its shell to keep its siphon upright like a snorkel! This snail is believed to eat sand dollars, so I guess it should be no surprise to see them on this shore. So far, we've only seen this snail on Changi and Cyrene Reef.
I came across the empty shell of a dead Strawberry cockle (Fragum unedo). So far, I've only seen a live one, once, on a submerged reef.
We also saw one cerianthid (Order Ceriantharia) which is not a true sea anemone.
This man-made lagoon is slowly but surely being taken over by seagrasses! As we did on our most recent trip here in Feb 2011, I saw lots of tiny Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis).
The seagrasses were full of tiny creatures. From snapping shrimps to elbow and other crabs. There were also lots of Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) and Dubious nerites (Clithon oulaneinsis).

During our trip in Feb 2011, we discovered amazing marine life had settled on the pontoon at Seringat-Kias. We can't resist a quick look. And it's still encrusted with all kinds of plants and animals.
Humungous pink sea fans have settled in the dark corners of the pontoon!
I personally believe it's not necessary to relocate marine life. If we provide a good environment, they seem to happily and very quickly settle on their own without having to remove marine life from somewhere else.

We also had a quick look at the natural rocky shore on Lazarus Island for sea anemones. Alas, we failed to find the pretty Anthopleura buddemeieri that we saw on St. John's Island during the Workshop a few weeks ago.
Hower, there were lots of small Anthopleura dixoniana nestled in little pockets of water left behind in crevices of large rocks. Dr Daphne taught us how they are easily identified by the 'chequerboard' pattern on the oral disk.
We learn so much from Dr Daphne and we are very sad that soon she will be leaving Singapore. But tomorrow, one more field trip with her to Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass!

More background on Seringat-Kias and Lazarus

Posts by others on this trip

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