25 May 2012

Bringing a glimpse of Cyrene to the Festival of Biodiversity

We're back out on the shores to gather specimens for a very special Marine Exhibition at the Festival of Biodiversity this weekend. As Ley Kun is setting up the tank, passers-by are already curious about what is going on.
"Come and see us tomorrow!" Ley Kun says to them. Over the last two days, a small team have been gathering some live specimens so everyone can get a glimpse of our two best shores: Chek Jawa and Cyrene Reef!

Our day started well before dawn once again. Between recent our trips to the two shores, we will have ALL the major Singapore seagrass species displayed at the Festival!
Cyrene also has awesome natural sandy shores even though it lies in the middle of the industrial triangle!. It's full of all kinds of marine life! Like sea urchins, sand dollars and Common sea stars which sadly are no longer common, even on Chek Jawa.
Ooo, a lovely BIG snail. It's the Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum) that is quite common on Cyrene but less commonly seen on our other shores. It eats sand dollars, which are abundant on the natural sandy shores of Cyrene.
Siti spotted the Bonnet snail! Thanks to Siti for organising both trips thus allowing  us to get fresh specimens for the Festival.
Collin and I came across several burrows with suspicious piles of dead sea urchins. Did the occupant of the burrow eat these sea urchins? Hmm...so much more to learn about our shores!
It's Ley Kun's first time on Cyrene and she's wowed by the huge numbers of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) that can be found here!
Hurray, Jocelyne found the special Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)! We have a look at it but leave it on the shore as it's not very commonly seen.
Today, I saw many special sea anemones on Cyrene! Collin spotted this Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.)! It's our first record of this sea anemone on Cyrene. Amazing that we've been coming to Cyrene so often and we keep seeing new stuff here!
The Fire anemone looks very similar to the harmless and common purplish Asparagus flowery soft coral (Family Nephtheidae)! Perhaps we overlooked the anemone, dismissing it for a soft coral? Need to be more attentive and careful on the shores!
I also came across two Swimming anemones (Boloceroides sp.?) with stripes instead of bands on their many arms. We saw this also on Pulau Sekudu in the north, last year. Cyrene indeed has many special animals that are more commonly seen on Chek Jawa than on our southern shores. This why in some ways, Cyrene is the Chek Jawa of the South.
I also saw some other strangely patterned and coloured Swimming anemones. This one was pinkish!
Nestled among the seagrasses was a retracted Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis)!
This is not a sea anemone but a pretty little fan worm.
I also saw several Ornate leaf slugs (Elysia ornata). These slugs suck the sap of seaweeds and ostensibly turns green to match their food. The pale slug I saw probably hasn't eaten enough yet.
Sadly, we show Collin his favourite pool that used to be full of very long Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides). It's now bare as the Tape seagrasses here have mostly been cropped short. Collin also had a little wade around the pool and confirmed my suspicion that the pool has become more shallow.
The Tape seagrasses here are badly cropped and the tips burned. Collin had to work very hard to find some nice Tape seagrass specimens to collect for the Festival tank. Other special seagrasses found on Cyrene include Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium), Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata). We carefully take small samples for the Festival tank.
There's also lots of other critters on Cyrene: several Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) with anemone shrimps, cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia) and Garlic sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra)!
We can't bring everything back with us for the Festival tank! Most marine life are delicate and will die if we do so. So we are careful to choose a very small number of a tiny selection of hardy, common animals. Come to the Festival tomorrow to have a glimpse of Cyrene!
Sabrina (left) has worked very hard to make the tank possible. Preparing the equipment and getting all the stuff ready. Ley Kun (Mama Crab of the Naked Hermit Crabs) joins us after the long trip to help us set up the tank.
Jeffrey Low stops by to help us get started. Collin helped drive the equipment and people around. We all 'plant' the tank, before Ley Kun carefully pours water into the tank.
Mei Lin (aka Giant Clam girl) stops by to help put in the more delicate tiny seagrasses! Jocelyne is busy taking photos of us at work. Thanks everyone!
There's lots more going on at the Festival. Already, colourful exhibits and stations are coming even though it's only the early afternoon.
I'll be very busy over the weekend and may not survive to blog at the end of the day. Get the latest Festival updates from me on facebook. As I try to deal with my smart phone, which is much smarter than me!

Come visit us this weekend to meet passionate volunteers who will share our marine life and the work being done for them, check out this amazing marine colouring sheet for kids and the young-at-heart, try out games like Seashore CSI and more!

There's lots more going on at the Festival of Biodiversity too!
Be bedazzled by butterflies and birds, awed by trees and seagrasses, tickle your curiosity with crabs and colugos. Singapore is wilder that you might imagine. Find out more about our biodiversity and what you can do to make a difference!

Visit the Festival of Biodiversity blog for the latest updates!

Dates: 26 May (Sat) and 27 May (Sun)
Time:
9am-6pm
Venue: Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens location map
Website and contact: http://festivalofbiodiversitysingapore.wordpress.com/

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