24 June 2012

Cyrene again with lots of sea anemones

We're heading to Cyrene again, my third trip here this week! This time, with a small team to help Siti clear up the seagrass experiment site there.
We enjoyed a starry sunrise as we headed out for Cyrene with the trusty dinghy towed behind the boat.


As usual, Alex and his crew at Summit Marine gets us all safely and quickly onto the submerged reef.
Today, Siti takes the Seashore Jenga challenge! We usually try to pile the life vests to minimise the number that get sandy. Can Siti put one more without toppling over the pile?
Looking good!
Yes!
But just before Nor Aishah could put hers on the pile, it falls over! Ah well. We tried.
As we head out to the work site, we spot a Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum) probably on its way to burrow into the sand for the day. These snails seem common on Cyrene, but are only seen in numbers at night.
As the sun rises over the horizon, the team gets to work removing the last of Siti's seagrass experiment on Cyrene. Most of the work was already done during their earlier trip on Friday. I missed helping out as I was guiding a team from MPA. But we met up with Siti and the team briefly then.
Very soon, we were all done and carrying off all the remaining equipment for removal from Cyrene. We spent the rest of the time getting other work done on Cyrene.
Siti and some of the team were doing a survey of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), while I went to gather some samples of seagrasses for Siti's upcoming Seagrass Workshop. I noticed some of the Serrated ribbon seagrasses (Cymodocea serrulata) had reddish bands on the leaf blades. I wonder what that means?
Today I had a good close look at the seagrass meadows and the amazing variety of marine creatures that live here, in particular, all kinds of sea anemones. I saw a small Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis).
There are all kinds of tiny sea anemones among the seagrasses. Many large Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi) and tiny ones too stuck to seagrass blades. Tucked among the seagrasses, tiny Carpet anemones!
I noticed another kind of tiny sea anemone stuck on seagrasses that don't look like small Swimming anemones.
Here's a closer look at the strange seagrass anemone. Compared to a Swimming anemone, it has a longer body column that seems to be covered in tiny bumps. The tentacles are not banded and instead have lots of tiny dots, with only a white band near the tips.
Chay Hoon and I saw several of these strange sea anemones that look like those that Mei Lin found on our night trip to Cyrene a few days earlier.
Chay Hoon also found this strange anemone with large polka-dots on the body column that we've also seen at Changi.
There were also many cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia), also called Peacock anemones because of their colourful variety. Although they look like sea anemones, they are not true sea anemones.
There was also this strange snail with a spotted leopard-like body which Chay Hoon had seen on a previous trip.
And even a little octopus who stayed still enough for me to take a close up photo with clumsy Sneaky Swimming Camera!
It was great to have Sijie of the Star Trackers back on Cyrene after many years of absence. They are the Knobbly sea star experts! He had a look at the Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) situation here. He thinks it's time to do more studies on them, particularly on the population of baby Knobblies. Hurray!
I did see many baby Knobbly sea stars among the seagrasses.
Here's another baby Knobbly well hidden under the sand and bits of the seagrass meadows.
With the removal of her experiment, it's the last trip for Siti to Cyrene for her seagrass study. She bids Cyrene farewell, for now. I'm sure she will be back. Certainly we will be back for our usual surveys, and hopefully, Sijie can start up studies of the Knobblies here too!
Learn more about our seagrasses at Siti's upcoming Seagrass Workshop on 2 Jul (Mon). The workshop is FREE! Come and join us if you want to find out more about our seagrasses and how you can make a difference for them.

Posts by others on this trip
  • Sankar with a great post on how illogical Cyrene is.
  • Pei Yan is overwhelmed by the sea stars.

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