22 June 2009

Mysterious Changi

Our favourite Changi shore continues to mystify with animals we've never seen before.
It's super low, super early, with a super team. As usual, the shore is teeming with all kinds of creatures. Like this bright red Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) that is clinging to a bit of rubbish that the White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) is carrying.

Today we saw many of these polka-dotted sea cucumbers. I must have seen about 10 of them. We still don't know what kind of sea cucumber it is. So far, we've only seen them on Changi. They are quite active animals, wriggling about almost like earthworms. And they eject their innards when they feel threatened.Chay Hoon found this strange sea cucumber that none of us have seen before! It appears velvety, with lots of tiny tube feet all over its ovoid body.
Other echinoderms seen by the team include some Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra), some Pink warty sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps), a few Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber), lots of Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.) and lots of Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta). And also lots of Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.) and Smooth sea cucumbers.

Another mystery is this handsomely marked Olive snail (Family Olividae) that again, none of us have seen before. James found it! Bravo! The snail seems to have a white body with brownish spots. It burrows away rapidly.
Kok Sheng also saw a Bailer snail (Melo melo), and everyone saw Noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis) except for me. Sigh. I did see some Gong-gong (Strombus canarium) and Window pane clams (Placuna sp.) which suggests that they are not being over collected. Though we looked hard, we didn't see any other special snails.

The sea hare season seems to be winding down, I saw only a few fat Geographic sea hares (Syphonota geographica). Alas, we were otherwise slug-free today.

More mobile and engaging molluscs are the sotong, or cuttlefishes and squids. And today, I saw this one cuttlefish.
It went through a whole range of body pattern and colour changes as it zipped away into the murky waters.
But through most of the changes, it had a ring of glittering spots around the body edge.

Another cute little cephalopod is this little bobtail squid that was literally bobbing about on the water surface.
It has a pair of large circular fins on the sides of its rotund body. As it flaps its fins in the water, it reminds me of Dumbo the Flying Elephant!

Janette saw a tiny octopus too! It was hiding in a shell.

There were plenty of crabs and crustaceans on the shores today. The Moon crabs (Family Matutidae) of various kinds were frenetic in the water as the tide was receeding, but hid in the sand during the low tide, and came out again as the tide turned. Hermit crabs of all sizes in all kinds of shells also did the same. Those on this shore often have little sea anemones on their shells.

There are lots of Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus) on this shore. And today, I saw many with barnacles on their shells.Barnacles are also crustaceans. They settle down on a hard surface, build a shell for themselves, and stick out their feathery feet to filter feed!
These crabs with barnacles don't look very healthy and are probably infected by a worse kind of barnacle. One that literally takes over the crab as an internal parasite. Eeks.

Tan SK shared this very special box crab (Family Calappidae).
None of us have seen this before. In fact, we haven't seen the usual Spotted box crab (Calappa philargius) on this shore for a while.

As for cnidarians, James found an Alicia sea anemone (Alicia sp.)!

We also saw lots of special fishes today.

Wow! Though we visit this shore quite often, we still encounter new finds.

Other blog posts about this trip

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