17 October 2008

Cyrene Quickly

Seems nothing can keep us from Cyrene Reef! Another visit, albeit a short one, with lots of work done and interesting sightings as usual.
Our first evening trip to Cyrene was held up by rain and boat problems. As usual, the team found ways to amuse themselves with marine finds even at the jetty.

We were also joined by a film crew from threesixzero who were there to feature Sijie and Chee Kong of the Star Trackers.Here is Sijie explaining the programme.
While the paparazzi were taking photos of the event.

After some patient waiting and lots of hope, we were finally heading out to this amazing reef in the midst of our port and petrochemical plants.
By that time, we only had about 45minutes left of daylight and we had to work fast.In no time at all, the Star Trackers and friends had already marked out in yellow flags, the locations of many Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus).

While Knobblies are found on many of our other reefs, Cyrene Reef is so far the only reef in Singapore where we've seen many juvenile Knobblies.These sea stars come in all kinds of colours and patterns. Chay Hoon even re-discovered the 'blonde' Knobbly. We're not sure if it's a different species or just a different form of our Knobbly. Chay Hoon and Marcus found all kinds of interesting stuff, and Andy filmed a strange beautiful anemone.

My special find was this Giant clam (Tridacnea squamosa), which is no longer very common on our shores.So it's most surprising to find one just opposite our world class container terminals!See the Giant clam on the lower edge and the port facilities on the horizon.
I was excited to see the snail shell because the Spider conch (Lambis lambis) is such an endearing animal. But the snail has died and its shell taken over by this special hermit crab that so far, I've only seen at reefs.I'm not sure what kind of hermit crab it is, possibly a Dardanus sp. It has such cute eyes on thick stalks.The colourful Mosaic crab (Lophozozymus pictor) is also another treat. And I saw two of them today, my first encounter on Cyrene Reef. I do notice that these crabs, which are on our Red List, are usually seen in some numbers and then not again for some time. These crabs are among the most poisonous on our shores and should not be eaten. Even cooking does not destroy their toxins.As dusk fell, the night shift started. And octopuses came out to play. A Master of Disguise, the octopus can change its colour and texture instantly. This octopus was smooth and sandy coloured as it moved across the sand.And instantly became more textured and mottled as it settled near a soft coral.

My job today was to take good sharp photos of the tiny features of the marvellous range of seagrasses found on Cyrene Reefs.There's the amazing Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoestifolium) which is cylindrical and has a pointed tip. The seagrass has air channels inside it to help it float.And of course Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) which is thin and flat. Halodule uninervis has a pair of tiny 'ears' at the tip. It also has a more prominent mid-vein.Then there is Cymodocea serrulata which has fine serrations on the tip (left photo). While our longest seagrass Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) has a smooth tip (right photo).

Tape seagrass is also differentiated by the inrolled edges along the length of the leaf.And while taking a photo of the seagrass, I saw this tiny little slug!It appears to have two pairs of 'tentacles', one pair in front and another pair on top of the head. It's transparent (so much so that its guts can be seen) and has fine white lines that mimic the veins of the seagrass!
Here's another look at the slug. I have no idea what it is.

This beautiful reef is surrounded by massive reclamation as well as major dredging between Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island and on the mainland.The big dredger could be seen just off Cyrene Reef during our trip.
In addition, the Reefs are also the target of fishermen who leave large fish traps behind.
Alas, all too soon it was time to leave Cyrene. The petrochemical plants at Jurong Island start to twinkle in the falling light and rising tide.
There will not be many more suitable tides to visit the rest of this year. We hope Cyrene Reefs will keep well in the meanwhile.

1 comment:

  1. wow! giant clam and a translucent slug! and thats a very cute hermit crab! how cool! learn lots about seagrass. thanks ria :)

    its so sad that the next thing we know, that dredger will be on cyrene :(

    I miss cyrene! wish i got to go!

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