17 September 2012

Wild facts updates: snails, clams and other critters

We suddenly saw many of these strange snails at Changi recently. Thanks to Tan Siong Kiat and Neo Mei Lin, I learnt that these are Mitre snails (Family Mitridae).
Unidentified snail Pterygia undulosa? (Family Mitridae)
From Siong Kiat, I learnt a lot more about some snails and clams. I also sorted out some other curious critters on the wildsingapore wild fact sheets.


Siong Kiat patiently showed me the difference between these two kinds of file clams we saw recently. The active one with long red tentacles is Limaria sp., its shell is thin and can't close completely. There's a big gap on one side.
Swimming file clam (Limaria sp.)
The other one that I found stuck under a rock is Lima vulgaris. Its shell is thicker and can close completely. It's also not as active as Limaria sp.
Common file clam (Lima vulgaris)
Another strange snail that we've started to observe lately are these egg-shaped ones with fuzzy shells and a handsome leopard spotted body. I think they are some kind of Triton snail (Family Ranellidae).
Leopard triton snail (Cymatium sp.)
Thanks to Siong Kiat, I also gathered up all the scallops that I think are Volachlamys singaporina or the Singapore scallop as it's named after Singapore!
Singapore scallop (Volachlamys singaporina)
I hurt my brain in the process, but I think I've figured out what this pretty creeper snail is. We see it often, usually alone, burrowing in clean sand near reefs. I think it's the Obelisk creeper snail (Rhinoclavis sinensis).
Obelisk creeper snail (Rhinoclavis sinensis)
I finally got around to sorting out these tiny black mussels that we sometimes see on rocky shores. At first I thought they were strange versions of the Nest mussel, but now I think they are Xenostrobus mussels.
Tiny black mussels (Xenostrobus sp.)
Dr Dale R. Calder of the Department of Natural History Royal Ontario Museum kindly wrote to me to tell me this fluffy branching creature is NOT a hydroid. He says it's a kind of bryozoan! Wow!
Glassy branching bryozoans
I've finally done a fact sheet on these curious ctenaphores. Thanks to Nicholas Yap for finding out and sharing more about them. Those seen so far were on large Omelette leathery soft corals (Sacrophyton sp.), often with many of them on one soft coral. The tiny animal produces two fringe tentacles than can be many times longer than the animal. It is used to gather food. The tentacles are stored in two large swellings on the animal.
Ctenophore on Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae)
I'm not too sure what these little creatures are, but I agree with Marcus Ng's suspicions that these are corallimorphs rather than sea anemones. Hopefully, when we next see Dr Daphne we can sort this out.
Unidentified cnidarian: Corallimorph?
We've been seeing these clusters of bubble-like ascidians more frequently, so I've done a little fact sheet, although I have no idea what they are exactly.
Unidentified Bubble ascidians under a stone
I think this feathery red seaweed is Spyridia filamentosa.
Feathery red seaweed (Spyridia filamentosa)
I've also worked very hard to update all the bivalve and gastropod pages so they now have a slide show of big photos and a nice map widget showing the locations of the photos. Still a lot more to do!
I've decided to take a break from field trips in September, my first break I think in years! Mainly because the tides are not low at all this month. I've since been working hard on photo processing, backing up photos (now at 10 terabytes!),  info figuring out, updating stuff. And of course, still attempting to write the new guidebook of all our shores. Progress has been glacial.

See the wild fact sheets.

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