11 July 2010

The Dark Side of Cyrene

We arrive at 4am in pitch darkness during a new moon on our second night trip to Cyrene. With only the lights of the massive industries that ring Cyrene.
I took this photo at daybreak, with the Jurong Island industrial installations still lit up like Christmas lights. A night trip is very different from one in broad daylight. In the cool darkness, more animals are active and out and about. Here's some first-time and interesting sightings I encountered today.

I have never seen this anemone before. It was about 6cm in diameter with a thick white body column mostly smooth with only a few rows of bumps near the top of the column. The oral disk had lots of tiny bumps in rows and it has very short tentacles at the edge of the disk.
Here's a closer look at the strange anemone. Liana also saw another strange anemone, that looks somewhat similar. Hmm...I wonder what they are.
I saw a moon snail with a handsome spotted body. It's the first time I've seen one at Cyrene, though I have seen them on our other shores. But not very often.
Here's a closer look at the snail shell on the upper and under sides. I still don't know what it is.
Wow, my first sighting of the this pink sea cucumber on Cyrene Reef. Siyang and his team recently determined its identity as Holothuria fuscocinerea. The term 'fuscocinerea' suggests 'dark' and 'ashy'. So I've decided a better common name for this creature would be Ashy pink sea cucumber. The animal does look like it has been rolled in ash with dark blotches and splotches on its generally pale pink to beige body. What do you think?
I saw this large white blob on the sand among the seagrasses. It was about 10cm long, rather leathery, stiff and completely white. It was also covered in mucus.
When I placed the creature on the sand, it started to burrow back in. I have no idea what it is. My guess is it's some kind of weird slug, or a kind of moon snail with a very flat shell that is totally covered by its body mantle.
It's always a delight to encounter the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris). There were at least two in this Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). The one in the photo is the smaller of the two fishes.
I saw these bright purple corallimorphs. Probably a different coloured version of the Frilled corallimorphs?
I took a break from documenting bleaching coral today. But still took a closer look at some bleaching corals. In this bleaching Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.), I found a pair of these bright red crabs. These crabs are usually not so obvious when the coral is healthy.
The only slug I saw were several of these tiny, nearly transparent sea hares, see the double pair of 'tentacles', a feature of sea hares. These seagrass sea hares (Phyllaplysia sp.) have been seen in numbers on Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) on Pulau Hantu. But only at night. I don't know where they hide in daylight!
Movements betrayed the presence of this tiny well camouflaged crab. It has an assortment of many coloured ascidians stuck all over its legs and body. Can you see it?
Alas, on the southern side of the reef, a very long driftnet had been laid right over the reef. And trapped in the net was a small shark! Sigh.
As well as many of these fishes. They were all dead already.
Ivan and Marcus also released a lot of stingrays and other fishes caught in a large 'bubu' or fish trap on another part of the reef.

All too soon, it's sunrise and I spent some time taking photos of the city skyline from Cyrene with huge ships already moving in both directions nearby.
On the southern side of Cyrene are the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom. Flaring and other emissions had been going on all night. A huge cloud over the island is revealed at daybreak.
As I look around after taking photos of the sunrise, I realise the tide has really started to come in! There are only tiny slivers of sand bar sticking out of the water near our departure point.
And behind me, the reef has disappeared under the water!
It's really time to leave!

The rest of the team had lots of other splendid encounters. I'll add links to their blog posts once these are uploaded.

This week is a bonanza of Cyrene trips as we will be going there FOUR times!

Read more about Cyrene on the Cyrene Reef Exposed blog and facebook page.

Other posts about this trip by:


  1. Hi Ria,

    Fascinating trip indeed! It is always a pleasure reading your trip reports to Singapore's Coral Reefs.

    By the way, the moon snail featured in this post is called Natica gualtieriana (Recluz,1844) or Gualtier Moon Snail as the common name.


  2. Thank you JK! For the snail ID and for your wonderful encouragement!



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