14 July 2011

Colourful Changi

This psychedelic sea cucumber is sometimes seen on Changi! Like many other colourful marine creatures, bright clashing patterns warn of its toxic nature. It's not a good idea to keep the Sea apple sea cucumber (Pseudocolochirus violaceus) in an aquarium as it might kill everything in it.
We also saw Baler snails! And other colourful creatures.

Changi is particularly rich in echinoderms. Today seems to be Sea Cucumber Day! There were lots and lots of Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis) as usual. I came across this odd situation with pairs of Thorny and the less common Warty pink sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps).
Other sea cucumbers seen included a few Beige sea cucumbers and many Purple sea cucumbers. Also many Orange sea cucumbers. All still awaiting identification. I also saw many buried ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.).
I only saw a few Black sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.). This one seems to have been recently eaten. I could still see the tube feet on the skeleton. Even a live, a sea urchin is mostly just a hollow sphere.
The tide wasn't very low but we still managed to see a nice large Blue feather star!
Today, I saw lots of Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.), many small and large Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) and some small Cake sea stars (Anthenea aspera). But no special stars.
I saw several Spearer mantis shrimps (Harpiosquilla sp.) but only managed a reasonable photo of this one. They are very busy creatures!
A closer look always reveals a bustling shore. Here's a tiny Coastal horseshoe crab (Tachypleus gigas) (I could just barely see its triangular cross-sectioned tail) nosing towards a pair of hermit crabs. All these animals are scavengers so perhaps there is some tasty rotting stuff to eat over there?
This much smaller male Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus) seems to be trying hard to grab onto a much larger female. He failed and she was left flailing on the bottom, upside down. Until a wave helped turn her over.
Yumm. This Tiger sea anemone seems to be feeding on a crab pincer. There were many Tiger anemones on the shore today. I also saw a few small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), many Big hermit crab hitching anemones, one Swimming anemone (Boloceroides mcmurrichi), many striped sand anemones and a few Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.).
I almost missed this Seagrass octopus squeezed into one of the little pots often seen on the shore. The pots are probably those used in religious rituals where ashes of the dead are released into the sea.
Finally, I get a nice shot of the body of the Calf moon snail (Natica vitellus). I only recently started to regularly see this snail on our shores. Although I did see many Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella) today, I didn't see any cowries as I used to in the past. Is our snail population on Changi changing?
There are lots of cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia) on this shore. Many different animals might be seen near them, like the tiny black Phoronid worms (Phoronis australis). I recall Dr Daphne told us these worms are only associated with certain species of cerianthids so their presence helps us to identify the cerianthid. Crabs are sometimes also seen under the cerianthid tentacles.
There were lots of these Slender sea pens (Virgularia sp.) . They come in various colours and I noticed that some had tiny shrimps on them. I also saw some tiny flowery sea pens (Family Veretillidae).
There were many of Spiky sea pens (Scytalium sp.) on the shore too. Some had tiny Painted porcelain crabs (Porcellanella picta) living between the 'leaves'.
In deeper water, there was a nice healthy looking Candelabra sea fan! I couldn't find any small animals living on it though.
James found two Baler snails (Melo melo)! My first time seeing them on this part of Changi. They were about 15cm long. Unfortunately, this one was entangled in an abandoned fishing line! I had to turn the snail around several times to get its body released from the line. Oh dear. I imagine it might have died a slow death if it wasn't released.
Although we did see many marvellous creatures, we didn't see any seahorses today. I hope they are alright and hiding in deeper water. I also didn't see any Ball soft corals although many were seen on our trip here in May. And no slugs or nudibranchs either.

This is the last morning trip for the year to this stretch of Changi. I hope it keeps well until the morning tides returns next year!

The moonlit trips continue. Tomorrow another crazy early trip, this time to Cyrene!

James also blogged with more photos of Baler snails and an octopus in a jar!

1 comment:

  1. I think that you're quite right James regarding changes in this zone, cowries used to appear in abundance but are in serious decline now. This may be due to their habits, covering the outside of their shells with their very sensitive and delicate mantles would directly expose them to water-borne toxins. A sad reality that we are hard-pressed to reverse.

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