23 November 2011

Wild facts updates in Nov: corals, clams and more

Hard corals are hard -- to figure out! But thanks to Danwei's awesome coral paper, which I struggled over for a long time, I think I've sorted some of our hard corals a little better.
Lithophyllon mushroom coral (Lithophyllon undulatum)
I saw this pretty coral many years ago at Cyrene Reef, and I think it's Lithophyllon undulatum, a mushroom coral!

The invaluable paper that I poured over is: Danwei Huang, Karenne P. P. Tun, L. M Chou and Peter A. Todd. 30 Dec 2009. An inventory of zooxanthellate sclerectinian corals in Singapore including 33 new records (pdf). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 22: 69-80.

I also laboured over Veron's amazing coral bible: Corals of the World (Thanks to Siti for the hardcopy), which is now also available online!

From all this squinty-eyed study I think this pretty hard coral might be Pachyseris rugosa. The common name is Castle coral, which is quite appropriate as the colony does look like a fantastical castle! We saw quite a few on Terumbu Bemban and it seems I've seen them on some of our other shores too. Previously, I lumped them all together with Ringed plate corals, which I now think are Pachyseris speciosa.
Castle coral (Pachyseris rugosa)
I think these beautiful oval mushroom corals may be Ctenactis species. The common name is Feather mushroom coral which is also appropriate as the neat parallel lines on the oval coral does make it resemble a feather.
Feathery mushroom coral (Ctenactis sp.
I also think the Bracket mushroom corals are Podabacia sp., and also that some Fungia species are Circular mushroom corals while others, like the one below are Oval mushroom corals.
Oval mushroom coral (Fungia sp.)
After much pondering, I have a strong feeling these small green corals that we see a lot of on our Northern shores are not Favid corals from the Family Faviidae but Pseudosiderastrea tayami which belongs to Family Siderastreidae
Neat hexa coral (Pseudosiderastrea tayami)
Other animals also got sorted out. Recently, André Sartori from eBivalvia on EOL's Life Desk kindly stopped by the fact sheets and helped identify some of the Venus clams that I've been seeing. Thanks to his very useful tips, I've sorted them out a little better (I hope). These more rounded ones that are often seen on our Northern shores are probably Gafrarium divaricatum.
Common venus clam (Gafrarium divaricatum)
While these flatter ones with bolder patterns that are seen quite often on our Southern shores too are probably Circe scripta.
Script venus clam (Circe scripta)
These fat ones with prominent ribs of beads are often seen on our Southern shores and are probably Gafrarium tumidum.
Ribbed venus clam (Gafrarium tumidum)
Of course, the highlight of the period was Wong Hoong Wei's paper on Ovulids of Singapore, which allowed me to sort out the Ovulid pages.
Red spindle cowrie (Ovulidae)
These tiny spindle cowries are easily seen at low spring tide
on shores like East Coast Park!
I was very excited to see a cute juvenile Harlequin sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) at Pulau Sekudu so I started a page on it. This fish is of course regularly sighted by others, especially divers.
Juvenile Harlequin sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)
Among the amazing new sightings made was Andy Dinesh's experiment with shining ultraviolet (or black light) on common marine creatures. This literally sheds new light on some humble creatures, like the white spiral fanworm!

white spiral fan worm @ sekudu - Oct2011 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

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

As usual, I'm way behind on the fact sheets. There were 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

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