20 February 2012

Sharing Sisters Islands with Asia Pacific Breweries

Today I had the pleasure of sharing Sisters Island with a very lively team from Asia Pacific Breweries hosted by NParks.
Of course, we celebrate the trip with BEER! Immediately!

Our first teeny tiny encounter is with a Strawberry slug that is often seen in Solitary fan seaweeds.
I couldn't take a good closeup of it with Swimming Camera, so here is an old photo of some of these slugs taken at Tanah Merah.
Strawberry slugs (Costasiella sp.)
Jocelyne then shares about the 'Teddy bear crab', our nickname for the cute Hairy crab that is often seen on our rocky shores. It is not the same Hairy crab that we eat. She later found a Swimming crab, and we also had a closer look at a crab moult.
Mr Wong has found the Carpet anemone! And it had a pair of anemone shrimps in it. The female is larger with more obvious white spots while the male tends to be smaller and more transparent. Later on, we saw a Giant carpet anemone among the rocks, but it didn't have any 'Nemos'.
Jonathan found a ribbon worm! It is so long that we wonder if we are seeing two worms. Yet this one is rather small for its species. These can reach more than 1m in length! They are fierce predators on the reefs.
Sam found a little Variable fang blenny in a bottle! What great spotting! It's actually my first sighting of this fish at Sisters Island! Bravo! Too bad I didn't take a good photo of it.
These fishes often hide and lay eggs in crevices. Here's a better photo of a blenny in an empty Fan shell clam that I saw at Tanah Merah. Earlier on, Jocelyne also showed us a living Fan shell clam. Animals have a role on shore, dead or alive! Another interesting fish spotted by the APB team was a lively worm eel.
Variable fang-blenny (Petroscirtes variabilis)
We tried to take a closer look at the corals that have grown on the seawalls. There are lots of more delicate corals here, like this Carnation coral. We also saw some Pore corals, and many kinds of Favid corals. But the water was rather high, and murky and there was lots of seaweed, so it was a little difficult to see them.
On the way back to the high shore, Jocelyne showed us how we can take a better look at the corals underwater by using the plastic pot! Wow, it really does work!
Here's a better look with Swimming Camera. This is the Anemone coral, which is a hard coral that is often mistaken for a sea anemone because of the long polyps.
We also came across a bunch of egg capsules attached to seaweeds. These were laid by some kind of cuttlefish or squid!
We still had time so we dropped by the smaller lagoon. Where the APB team spotted lots and lots of very large Common sea stars! I usually only see a handful of these on a trip. But today, we must have seen about 20 of them! Jonathan and Linda also found a Long black sea cucumber which is related to the sea stars!
Jonathan has found a Giant top shell snail! This snail is getting rare as it is often overcollected. We had a look at its flexible 'door' used to seal the shell opening, and Sam found us a Turban snail which has a hard door!
The APB team is very hard working! Throughout the trip, sightings are recorded, and litter is picked up. Among the litter, a tennis ball and many bottles!
But the most amazing encounter was a bottle emblazoned with 'Malayan Breweries', the original name of the company before it was renamed Asia Pacific Breweries in 1990. Wow! That's just amazing.
At the end of the trip, time for more BEER! The APB team brought their special 'Crystal' beer, which I learnt can be kept in a clear bottle. The usual kind of beer needs to be kept in a brown bottle as sunlight causes the beer to deteriorate. Professionals know how to open beer bottles with bare hands!
All too soon, it's time to bid farewell to Big Sister Island and Little Sister Island which lies opposite. Thanks to the APB team for their great company and for bringing great beer!
Asia Pacific Breweries is a kind supporter of the Mega Marine Survey, and we hope this little trip helps to show our appreciation.

More about the Sisters Island on wildsingapore. And more about the Mega Marine Survey.

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