04 June 2013

Curious Critters from the Deep on Day 16 of the Southern Expedition

This cutie came up from the Deep Dredge today! It's not a sea anemone. It may be an ascidian. We are still not sure!
Today, the Dredge hit nearly 200m! We also had day and night dives, and the usual frenzied hunting on St. John's and nearby islands.


There were many other firsts today: Debby Ng tweets photos of this new record for Singapore. A strange bivalve called Jouanettia with a delicate globular shell that has a 'spout'. It is found burrowed into rock or hardened clay.
Photos by Debby Ng.
More of these amazing bivalves came up with the Deep Dredge today. Tan Siong Kiat will be carefully removing these delicate animals without breaking them. Eeks.
Debby tweets a new record goby found during the day dive at Pulau Jong! Found by Dr Zeehan Jaafar.
Photo by Debby Ng.
Earlier in the morning, Heng Pei Yan and I went on a shrimp hunt. We decided to check out the mangroves at St. John's Island. We start with the ones near the jetty.
The tide is high and we root around the roots. And don't find any shrimps or fishes. Although there are lots of snails and clams of various kinds stuck to the roots.
The island kitties that hang out in the area peer at us from the walkway.
We then slosh over to the little patch of mangroves further 'inland'. It's a pretty lagoon at high tide. And we find some fishies and a few shrimps here.
We went back to the same lagoon that Kate Pocklington and I did yesterday, and also found very few shrimps. We returned quite frustrated. Sigh.
The scientists are not very interested in the mysids that we caught (they look like mosquito larvae). But Yujie is glad to see the mysids as her baby cuttlefishes are hungry. Can you spot the cuttlefish? It's next to the egg case that it hatched out of.
Hurray, Dr Zeehan Jaafar tells me the tiny fish we caught is interesting! It's one of the world's smallest fishes. When the film crew heard this, they decide to interview her. She explained why it's important to study the fishes live and how knowing the species of fishes can help us measure and rank the richness of various seashore locations and thus support efforts to protect them.
As the Deep Dredge arrives, the volunteers and staff eagerly get to work to sort out the animals. We are curious to be among the first to see what lives at the bottom of the sea 200m deep! Dr Serena Teo ponders the best way to chip off the ascidians from a huge dead coral that came up with the dredge.
After much effort, and unsolicited advice from annoying by-standers, Kwan Siong manages to split a huge dead coral and found ... NOTHING! To the amusement of everyone else.
Kate Pocklington went for the Deep Dredge today and shares some sepia photos of the trip.
Meanwhile, I dragged Dr Kevin Tilbrook out to have a look at suspicious smudges on the mangrove saplings in the tiny patch of mangroves at St Johns. I am hoping they are the amphibious bryozoans that we found with Dr Dennis Gordon at the northern mangroves of Singapore.
A new record for me! Reading glasses over sunglasses!
Here's a photo to show the range of places the Expedition explores everyday. From muddy mangroves (me), to reefs -- resulting in itchy red scratches on Dr Zeehan's knees. Ouch.
There are signs of madness on the Expedition Whiteboard...
More crazy drawings inspired by Chay Hoon's message about the Horrible elbow crab.
We must savour these last days of the Expedition!

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