15 August 2011

Squid catches shrimp at Changi

This tiny Pygmy squid has caught a little shrimp!
It's one of the many little interesting encounters I had on Changi this morning.

The Pygmy squid (Idiosepius sp.) is a common but tiny predator in seagrass meadows. Here's a closer look at the squid clutching its prize tightly in its arms before it slowly drifted away into murky water.
Today the tide wasn't very low, but the water was quite clear. So I got a brief glimpse of the many little creatures busy on the shore. Many swimming crabs and little gobies.
In a colourful purple branching sponge (Callyspongia sp.), I saw a Fan-bellied filefish (Monacanthus chinensis) and a Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus). Nearby, an orange fan worm, and a small patch of Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata). Mei Lin also saw some octopuses! Amazing what we might see on a mainland shore!
My first time seeing Phoronid worms near a cerianthid that is NOT white. Next to it, a swimming crab is staying very still and I nearly missed seeing it.
A sea pen in a colony of two kinds of polyps! Submerged in water, these Slender sea pens (Virgularia sp.) have their lovely 'leafy' parts expanded with tiny polyps on the edges. The 'leaves' are held up by a central polyp. When exposed out of water, the 'leaves' collapse leaving the central polyp standing upright so that it looks like a satay stick!
There were also many Flowery sea pens (Family Veretillidae).
A closer look at a submerged Crown sea star (Asterina coronata) shows that it has star-shaped structures on its upperside, with lots of little stubby tubefeet sticking out all over. I only saw one tiny Biscuit star (Goniodiscaster scaber).
It was nice to come across this Luidia sand star (Luidia sp.), which I don't often come across.
Among the abundant animals here were colourful sea cucumbers of various kinds: Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis), Orange sea cucumber and Purple sea cucumber. There were also many buried Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.).
The seagrass meadows here seemed fine with thick growths of Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) with large leaf blades. The ground is nice and soft and silty in many parts. There were a few deep furrows in the seagrass meadows. Dugong feeding trails? Alas, we didn't come across any seahorses today.
Today, Nicholas is looking for some special anemones to continue his study of them. We were last here in June 2011. We found lots of Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.) with white body columns, and one with a brown body column. There were also some Tiger anemones, many small carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.) and some swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi).
The tide window was narrow. All too soon, the full moon set, the tide turned and we enjoyed a gentle sunrise as the bumboats began their daily service to Pulau Ubin from Changi.

Mei Lin also posted about the trip with lots more sea stars, a strange sea cucumber, octopus and and nudibranch and mantis shrimp and more!

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