24 May 2013

Anemone hunt on Day 4.5 at the Southern Expedition

The super early low tides have started. Prof Daphne leads a predawn anemone hunt. Thanks to Yen-ling we had a comfy ride to Seringat-Kias on the buggy!
Predawn trips are confusing. The work for the day ends at sunrise. So Day 5 of the Expedition barely started when we already finished our field trip for the day!

Seringat-Kias was created by reclaiming the submerged reefs of Seringat and Kias. One of the touted features on this island is the C-shaped 1km long artificial lagoon. Here's more about what was done to create Seringat-Kias. Marine life has settled in this artificial lagoon!
Prof Daphne wanted to sort out some puzzling sea anemones on this trip. And fortunately, we managed to see those difficult anemones as well as many other kinds of anemones. We saw 'Bob the blob' (Paracondylactis sinensis), and many Peachia sea anemones (Peachia sp.)., a large Mini carpet anemone (Stichodactyla tapetum), a small Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea), a small Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) with an anemone shrimp. Also the Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.) I saw on Feb 2012.
There were lots of other little fishes which I couldn't sample because I forgot to bring a handnet. But this young Batfish (Platax sp.) was pretending to be a leaf and I simply picked it up.
Here's another strange fish that we saw. It was half buried in the wet sand near the water and very much alive. When I tried to dig it out, it proceeded to bury itself deeper into the sand! Was it trying to lay eggs in the sand and got caught by the low tide? So much more to learn about our marinelife.
I saw a very large grouper hiding near the artificial rock wall, it was about 40cm long! I also saw a small Blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma). There were lots of Spotted moon crabs (Asthoret lunaris) and many Ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus).
At the artificial seawall, tiny corals are starting to grow!
I came across a living Strawberry cockle (Fragum unedo)!
The seagrasses growing at the ends of the C-shaped lagoon have expanded since I last visited here. I saw lots of tiny Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) as well as tiny Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.). And this little Olive flatworm among them. There were also many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).
At moonset and sunrise, Prof Daphne and I rejoin the ladies who are still very busy collecting all kinds of animals including 'hoppers' for Dr Jim who is studying amphipods. Yesterday, we were disappointed that what we thought were 'hoppers' turned out to be 'scudders'. Hmm...so much more to learn about these critters.
Yen-ling brought us for a little tour around the island. My first time seeing the entire Seringat-Kias. It overlooks the business district on mainland Singapore.
As well as Pulau Tekukor and the Sisters Islands. All places that we will soon survey in the coming days.
We also  stopped by the pontoon on Seringat-Kias to admire the amazing marine life that have settled here. Perhaps we should find some time to survey this later in the Expedition.
When we started at 3am, I popped by the labs and Iffah was still cheerfully hard at work at the Preservation Station.
Rene is still hard at work taking photos!
Rene is very happy with the little tanks for shooting little critters. Thanks to Clarence Chua for getting these tanks made for me.
Dr Arthur is still at work too! To have a closer look at the lovely photo on his laptop, check out his facebook post here!
I got back just in time to see Dr Zeehan busy churning out delicious fried eggs for breakfast for everyone. Alas, I couldn't stay as I rushed for the morning boat back to the mainland.
I rushed to catch the 8.30am boat back to the mainland and saw ominous weather building on the mainland while it was still sunny on St. John's Island.
Wah, there is a big angry cloud heading towards the Southern Islands as we head back to Singapore. Dr Joelle is making a valiant journey alone to get special hawker food lunch for the rest of the team. Fortunately, we met a volunteer who missed the boat and could give her a hand to bring the lunch back. The patience, sacrifices and personal effort of many people make this Expedition possible.
Earlier on, at Day 4.5, many of us are already feeling a little stressed. Yen-ling recommends the Relaxation Cupboard. It's a dark place where specimens are placed to allow them to unfurl and expand. But it seems like a good place for stressed humans too!
Soon, I'll be heading back to Base Camp to find out what happened during the rest of Day 5. It seems the rain had hit the dive and dredge teams. Hope everyone is ok and all went well.

During the Expedition, I will try to post live updates on twitter as well as to facebook and the Mega Marine Survey facebook page. These will get less frequent as I start to do field work. I'm not very good at the smart phone in the field, and also, phone connections are not always strong enough to post regularly. So also check out tweets by participants using the hashtag for the Survey  #MegaMarine. These are consolidated on the Mega Marine Survey blog.

Volunteer sign up for the Southern Expedition are already closed due to limited places and early logistical arrangements needed for participation.

But no worries, you CAN still join the Survey! Lots of surveys will continue after the Expedition, just at a less frenzied rate. There will be lots of other opportunities for volunteers to participate in dredging, field surveys as well as laboratory sessions. To join the Mega Marine Survey, register your interest in this form and you'll be invited to join the mailing list to receive updates on the Survey and sign up for Survey activities. Also check out the FAQs for more about the Survey.

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