06 May 2012

Little critters at Little Sisters

My first time spotting this pretty striped snapping shrimp! Little Sisters is small and it's full of life. Today I focused on exploring the rocky rubbly parts while the rest of the team did the usual spots where more exotic stuff is often seen.
Indeed, they saw sea snakes (two of them), lots of feather stars and many other creatures. Here's some of the more humble creatures that I came across.

Today there is a bloom of Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) on the rubbly area. The seaweeds were positively teaming with Bryopsis slugs (Placida daguilarensis)! These slugs suck the sap of the seaweeds and belong the group of Sap-sucking slugs (Order Sacoglossa). Those that are darker have probably sucked a lot of sap, while paler ones may be younger?
I also saw many of these slugs floating upside down on the water surface. I'm not sure if they do this on purpose or were simply dislodged.
Among the seaweeds were also countless teeny tiny 'pods'. Amphipods (Order Amphipoda) are flattened sideways, and Isopods (Order Isopoda) are flattened like pancakes. There are so many different kinds of 'pods'!
The seaweeds are also home to tiny brittle stars, tiny snapping shrimps, tiny crabs and tiny shrimps.
A super tiny Carpet eel blenny (Congrogadus subducens) was lurking among the seaweeds! This is the tiniest carpet eel-blenny I've seen. They can grow up to 30cm long!
For the first time, I saw really tiny octopuses among the seaweeds! I saw several, possibly just hatched?
Large octopus are indeed quite common on our reefs. Nearby, I saw a large octopus pretending to be a rock.
A busy little Marine spider (Desis martensi) scrambles past me. This is a true spider that lives on the intertidal! During high tide it hides in air pockets among the rubble. It comes out at low tide to hunt.
I was on the look out for sea anemones and saw this little one tucked into a crevice. It looks like a Bubble tip sea anemone (Entacmea quadricolor) but with tentacles that are not inflated into bubbles. I didn't know that this sea anemone could have a purple body column!
Hmm...a mystery sea anemone! It retracted into the crevice as I was taking the photos. Of course, I also saw some Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).
There were lots of fishes among the rubble! There were Freckled goatfishes (Upeneus tragula), Common mojara (Gerres oyena), Tropical silversides (Atherinomorus duodecimalis), Chequered cardinalfish (Apogon margaritophorus), Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis).
A pretty Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta)! A little pink around the face, perhaps in an attempt to blend in with the pink Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) that it is resting on?
A colourful fish! I think it's a Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
I took a closer look at the holes made in some Pore coral (Porites sp.). And finally got a glimpse of what lives in them. They seem to be some kind of worm!
There were also some more colourful flatworms: like the gianormous (for a flatworm) Acanthozoon sp., a pretty black Pseudobiceros uniarborensis, and a tiny blue and white cf Pseudoceros indicus.
Today the moon was huge! It seems this is a 'Super Moon' weekend, because the moon is supposed to be "14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2012". The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon", when the moon is closer to the Earth than it usually is. Somehow, the moon doesn't look as big in photos as it does in real life. This, apparently, is because the 'bigness' is all in our minds!
As the tide turned, we started exploring the sandy shores. I saw many patches of tiny Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis), and two Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni), one with a pair of anemone shrimps. But I didn't see any Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). On the higher shore there were many Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.) and a few large Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). Of course, Chay Hoon and the rest of the team found lots of slugs here. This amazing shore is surrounded by large ships and is near some of our busy shipping lanes and industrial islands.
We enjoyed a glorious sunrise today! Which marked the end of our trip. The rest of the team saw two Yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina), and lots of other exciting encounters which they will blog about later.
A short 15-minute boat ride and we are back in the heart of the city!
No need to swim, no need to dive. No need to go some exotic place. Our home is an exotic island paradise! Our amazing reefs and shores are very accessible! All you have to do is wake up a little early to see some stunning marine life and natural events.

Tomorrow, we hope to explore a very special part of Sentosa!

Posts by others on this trip
  • Kok Sheng with sea snakes, feather stars and more! 
  • Pei Yan with 'Nemo's and sea snake and big moon and more! 
  • James with awesome close ups! Skeleton shrimp, critters in sea fans, glow-in-the-dark creatures and more! 

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