03 July 2011

Final anemone hunt at Chek Jawa

It's Dr Daphne's last day in Singapore! Although she leaves early tomorrow, she still made time to make a final field trip with the Anemone Army!
We join the TeamSeagrass predawn monitoring trip at Chek Jawa to learn more about the sea anemones there from Dr Daphne.

We start the search at the coral rubble area near the beacon, well before the first light of dawn.
We learn more from Dr Daphne even about the common sea anemones here. She points out how to tell a Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). The most unmistakable characteristic is the series of long-short tentacles on the edge of the oral disk.
There are many carpet anemones on Chek Jawa, and some are bright purple or green. Not all of them are Haddon's carpet anemones, Dr Daphne points out.
This sea anemone at first glance appears to be a Haddon's carpet anemone. But see how its tentacles seem a little longer, and when submerged, the tentacles are often in constant motion? Also, we can't find the long-short tentacle arrangement at the edge of the oral disk. Dr Daphne says this is a Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)!
Dr Daphne points out this Haddon's carpet anemone which she thinks is not well. She highlights how it lacks tentacles in the center and instead has white stripes on the oral disk. Oh dear.
Hurray! We find this Ball tip animal which Dr Daphne confirms is NOT a sea anemone. Oops. It is instead a corallimorph (Order Corallimorpharia). Corallimorphs she explains are more closely related to hard corals than sea anemones but lack a skeleton. Many of them have balls on their tentacle tips. Time to update the fact sheet, but after the field trips!
Wow, we find this sea anemone which we call 'Bob the blob'. The recent Sea Anemone Workshop conducted by Dr Daphne has identified this as Paracondylactis sinensis. Dr Daphne has kindly pointed out that some of the anemones I have included in my fact sheet as the Plain anemone are NOT Bob. I'll need to sort out those as well, after the field trips.
There were many Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi) among the seagrasses today. Many large ones and even more tiny ones.
We see many of these anemones which I call the Posy anemone. Dr Daphne says they are likely to be Telactinia citrina.
Chay Hoon found this pretty orange sea anemone. The team also came across several of these burrowing anemones with striped tentacles. We still don't know what they are!
We then head out across the soft mud towards the mangroves at Chek Jawa.
Along the way, we came across quite a large area covered with these tiny blobs. We had a closer look at a tiny pinch of them under the microscope back at the laboratory. Dr Daphne says they are not sea anemone and are not even animals! Are they some kind of algae? So much more to find out!
We also come across 'Bill the anemone' which we had encountered in large numbers at Lim Chu Kang a few weeks earlier. Since we have lots of examples of Bill, we leave this one on Chek Jawa.
In the soft mud, we also find many of these tiny anemones with striped bodies clinging onto snails. These are Paraiptasia radiata which we have seen on several shores. So we also leave them alone on Chek Jawa.
Most people think sea anemones are not likely to be found in mangroves, but if we look, we can find some interesting ones!
After looking hard, the team finally find a few of the tiny anemones with spots in mangrove wood that Dr Daphne is intrigued by. So far, we have seen this anemone along Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Buloh, Kranji and Mandai. Now we find it on Chek Jawa too. More work needs to be done to determine what it is exactly.
We looked hard for the Lined bead anemone (Diadumene lineata) on Chek Jawa and were puzzled not to find it on the higher shore. But Ivan later showed us photos of these anemones which had settled on the poles of the TeamSeagrass transects! Hurray!

After the field trip, Nicholas and I spent our last lab day with Dr Daphne over a makeshift lunch of local favourites which she so enjoys. We had a last look at the sea anemones we found and finally sadly had to say goodbye to Dr Daphne. I've learnt so much from her not just about sea anemones, but also about science in general and about life. She is a great inspiration and I and the Anemone Army are already missing her and looking forward to her return to Singapore!

More about Dr Daphne and our anemone hunts present and past.

I also took the opportunity during this trip to have a quick look at the coral rubble area at Chek Jawa. We also saw otters and signs of dugongs!

Posts by others on this trip
  • James with more anemones and otters too.

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