22 July 2011

Pentaceraster sea star featured in poster

A lovely poster of "A Decade of Amazing Discoveries" by the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research features our awesome Pentaceraster sea star!
Click on image for a larger view
Thanks to Kai-xin for using my photo and giving me the soft copy of the gorgeous poster! For more about the celebration of "Decade of biodiversity discoveries and conservation in Singapore".


The Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus) is a new record for Singapore and was first discovered on Cyrene Reef in 2008! Kok Sheng blogged about how Chay Hoon first spotted it in April 2008. Two weeks later, we returned to Cyrene with Dr David Lane, an echinoderm expert who wrote the Guide to Sea Stars and other Echinoderms of Singapore.
Vyna, the rose among the thorns,
found the sea star during Dr Lane's visit in April 2008.
After the trip, Sijie shares an update on his blog that Dr Lane has tentatively identified it as Pentaceraster mammillatus. Sijie added that "Its distribution is that of Indian Ocean, but apparently with its appearance in Singapore, it has expanded its range. It is usually found in lower eulittoral and deeper region, on sand and seagrasses. However, the taxonomy of this group has some uncertainties, with gradations between species, possible hybrids and a closely related form living in the Philippines region." Sijie added that "it's an important find, indicating the cleanliness of our marine environment despite Singapore being one of the busiest port in the world. The new find is the reason why Cyrene is so amazing." Indeed!

In March 2009, Kok Sheng noticed that some of them didn't look very well. But in 2010, we started to see baby Pentaceraster sea stars!
Photo by Sean on his blog.
Sean saw a tiny one (about 5cm in diameter) in April 2010, I saw a small one (about 9cm) in May 2010 and Kok Sheng and Chay Hoon saw a slightly larger one in June and July 2010.

We continued to see this delightful sea star over the years since then. They come in a variety of patterns and colours. I did a post about whether the Pentaceraster sea stars are breeding on Cyrene and some of the past sightings of these amazing sea stars there.
Top row red one by Mei Lin,
Bottom row left most by Kok Sheng, middle also by Kok Sheng.
During our Cyrene trip last week, James and Geraldine found these two large ones which look somewhat different but have all the features of the Pentaceraster sea star.
In June 2010, I launched the new "Been to Cyrene" button during our trip to bring URA to see Cyrene. It features the Pentaceraster sea star and the new Cyrene Reef Exposed blog.
This sea star has also been seen on Pulau Semakau. We have yet to see it in our other reefs. So much more to discover about our shores!

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