18 September 2011

Wild facts updates for Sep: crabs, anemones, seaweeds

I haven't updated the fact sheets since May! But we sure saw a lot of special marine life during the 2011 morning low tides, which have just ended. So I tried to catch up with some updates: crabs, anemones and seaweeds!
Platypodia granulosa
I saw this cute crab for the first time on a trip to a submerged reef off Semakau.

Thanks to Dr Tan Swee Hee, we find out that this crab is Platypodia granulosa. Although the Curry Puff crab does remind me of our favourite local snack, or a chicken pie perhaps, it belongs to the Family Xanthidae which includes some of the most poisonous crabs on our shores. In fact, it's listed in Prof Leo Tan's guidebook with the warning that "These toxins cannot be destroyed by cooking, and are extremely potent." So don't eat the Curry Puff crab!

I also saw for the first time this special ghost crab. I've read about it but had not come across it until Marcus spotted it at Sentosa. Dr Tan has identified it as Ocypode cordimanus. Unlike the more commonly seen Long-eyed ghost crab (Ocypode certophthalmus), this crab doesn't have 'horns' on its eyes.
I'm taking a wild stab at identifying the tiny little crabs with spoon-tipped pincers that are found under stones as Pilodius sp.
Pilodius rock crab (Pilodius sp.)
I also realised that not all the red egg-shaped crabs on our shores are Red-egg crabs. Some of them are the Maroon stone crab (Menippe rumphii).

The highlight of this morning low spring tide period was of course the visit by Dr Daphne Fautin, world authority on sea anemones. I tried to learn as much as I could from her. For the first time, I finally saw the Pink-spotted bead anemone (Anthopleura buddemeieri) which lives on the high shore on natural rocky shore of St. John's Island. Later on, we also found it on Sentosa!
Anthopleura buddemeieri
We also took the opportunity to show Dr Daphne the big maroon anemones that Kok Sheng and Mei Lin had seen at Punggol. It's my first time seeing it! Dr Tan remarked that the colour is burgundy and Dr Daphne identified them as Bunodosoma goanense.
Burgundy anemone (Bunodosoma goanensis)
We also came across some other interesting sea anemones. I've done up fact sheets on them even though their identity have yet to be sorted out: The Very long sea anemone (which is indeed very long as we discovered when we tried to take a closer look at it), the Pimply mangrove sea anemone (which Dr Daphne pointed out has a pimply body column and is thus NOT the same as the Plain sea anemone) and the Branched-tentacle mangrove sea anemone (which I only noticed after Dr Daphne pointed them out to me!). Dr Daphne also corrected me about the Ball-tip anemone which is actually a corallimorph!

On our trips, we also noticed a different kind of corallimorph with stripes. And for the first time, I noticed on Pulau Semakau what seems to be Xenia soft corals.

Another happy event was the publication of A Checklist of the Algae of Singapore (pdf) by Pham, M. N., H. T. W. Tan, S. Mitrovic & H. H. T. Yeo in August. The awesome paper is available for free download at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research website.
A very useful list, it also has links to photos of the seaweeds on AlgaeBase so I could try to figure out some of our seaweeds. Many thanks to the authors for this useful resource! Among the new fact sheets I did up for seaweeds are for Pimply red seaweed (Acrocystis nana), Tiny red net seaweed (Portieria hornemannii) and I think Bracket brown seaweed is Lobophora variegata.

I also think I've misidentified some seaweeds as Mexican green seaweed when they ought to be Scalpel green seaweed (Caulerpa scalpelliformis). [Update Feb 2013: I changed my mind and I think this is Mexican seaweed (Caulerpa mexicana)]
Caulerpa scalpelliformis
I think this is Mexican seaweed (Caulerpa mexicana).[I think these are Caulerpa taxifolia].
Caulerpa mexicana
Mexican seaweed does look similar to Caulerpa taxifolia.
Narrow feathery green seaweed (Caulerpa taxifolia)
More about how to tell apart some common feathery green seaweeds.

Please do let me know if I got any of the identifications wrong!

There were also lots of other interesting sightings. Some are first entries to the wild fact sheets for the location. Others are interesting behaviours observed for the first time. There are also lots of interesting video clips! These photos and video clips have been updated on the wild fact sheets. Thanks to all the team members who shared their findings online. Visit their sites for more stories and photos!

Those who went diving in Singapore waters had spectacular sightings too! Check out these blogs for more:

    I'd gladly include your sightings in the wild fact sheets. Just email me, Ria at hello@wildsingapore.com

    As usual, I'm way behind on updating the wild fact sheets. It's tough keeping up with all the new sightings, so I do apologise to the team if I haven't done any fact sheets for some of their finds. I'll try to do more during the less 'siong' period of evening low tides.

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