19 February 2009

Wildfacts updates: Semakau Checklist, nems and more

In preparation for the Semakau Book, Semakau sightings for the wild fact sheets have been consolidated into photo checklists.This is a very preliminary list. And can be much improved with the help of those who know Semakau and our marine life! Many of the photographed sightings on the list have no ID. And some of the ID I've indicated are unconfirmed. I'd be very grateful for any contributions of sightings or ID information that you may have. Thank you!

In preparing the checklist, I've finally gotten around to doing fact sheets for these creatures.

The Pale tailed slug (Chelidonura pallida) is NOT a nudibranch. It belongs to Family Aglajidae (tailed slugs) of the Order Cephalaspidea (headshield slugs) which include the Bubble shell snails.
This slug has a long, cylindrical body with a pair of 'wings' (called parapodia) which fold over the centre of the body as well as a pair of 'tails, one longer than the other.

This rather large sea cucumber is probably Herrmann's sea cucumber (Stichopus herrmanni).
Its body is stiff with a wrinkled texture but no large bumps. It can grow very large, 20-30cm, up to 50cm long!

This white 'furry' little animal with a brown petaloid is probably the Maretia heart urchin (Maretia planulata).
Heart urchins burrow in the ground and are thus seldom seen. They are relatives of sand dollars and sea urchins.

A scary looking sea anemone is the Alicia sea anemone (Alicia sp.) which I came across during a TeamSeagrass trip to Pulau Semakau. Dr Daphne warned that they sting painfully.
And a closer look at the tentacles does show that it seems well armed with batteries of nasty looking stingers!

The Alicia anemone below was spotted by Andy at Cyrene Reef. It didn't look like much when we first saw it.
But when Sijie settled it in a tank it showed its true beauty. See his Nature Scouter blog for a photo of it.

Recently, Andy and Stephen saw this bizarre Haeckel's anemone (Actinostephanus haeckeli) on our trip to Terumbu Raya, just off Pulau Semakau.
The fact sheet now has Stephen's fabulous photo, and Andy's amazing video clip of this sea anemone.

On another trip, Marcus took photos of this Leathery anemone (Heteractis crispa) with all the features that helped in its identification.
This is fantastic! It's rather difficult to tell apart the large long-tentacled sea anemones without a photo of the important bits.

Some of the strange creatures recently seen are still not included here. Such as the pretty pink heart urchin and the large Asteronotus cespitosus nudibranch laying bright orange egg ribbons that Marcus photographed. There's just so much that we see everytime we go to our shores!

I'll be happy to add any of your sightings on our shores to the wild fact sheets! Just email me.

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