25 March 2011

Baby sharks at Cyrene!

Back on Cyrene on a blue blue sky day! With TeamSeagrass to monitor the spectacular seagrass meadows here.
Today we are also joined by Dr Dan Rittschof and students from Duke University who have come to help Siti set up seagrass experiments on Cyrene.

Once again thanks to Melvin, Francis and the crew from the Dolphin, all of us including Siti's experimental gear arrives safely on Cyrene.
Siti and her volunteers including students from Duke University haul the enormous structures to her study site in the middle of Cyrene. In the background are the massive petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
Here's a closer look at the sturdy volunteers making the long trek there. Bravo!
I caught up with Siti at her study site after I was done with seagrass monitoring.
Wow, the volunteers have been hard at work in the hot sun! Oh dear, they have run out of cable ties. No worries, we 'borrow' the string on the TeamSeagrass transect squares!
While we were all doing our thing, Dr Dan is busy checking out Cyrene. He has gathered some interesting marine life to show his students.
A pair of large Olive snails (Family Olividae), which I often see here but not elsewhere. Also a tiny White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) which seem to be coming into season on Cyrene. And a tiny young Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus) which were plentiful on Cyrene today.
Earlier on, Dr Dan also found a tiny Tiger anemone! So far, I've only seen this on Changi and Chek Jawa! It's the first time I've seen one on our Southern shores. Indeed, in many ways Cyrene is the Chek Jawa of the South.
A closer look at the anemone. Like the ones in the North, this one had tiny little red dots on the body column which makes it resemble a round berry when it tucks its tentacles into its body.
Another special anemone I saw was a small Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), which are not very widely seen.
As usual, there were plenty of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) on Cyrene. What is special about the Knobblies on Cyrene is that we find many small ones here. According to the Star Trackers, Cyrene probably has the largest population of these Endangered sea stars, and the only one with a viable, reproducing population of these magnificent sea stars.
The tide was higher than predicted all day today. So it was quite sloshy to walk around. And we saw many Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma)!
We had a quick look at the rocky areas and saw several Red-eyed reef crabs (Eriphia ferox). These are listed as 'Vulnerable' on our Red List.
Also a large Giant top shell snail (Trochus niloticus)! These large snails are listed as 'Vulnerable' and are no longer commonly seen on our shores.
Dr Dan spotted this Giant reef worm (Eunice aphroditois) foraging out of its hidey hole in the rocky shore.
All too soon, it was time to go home as the tide turned. We are a huge team with two big boats. So Melvin has to make several trips in the smaller boat.
While we were waiting for our turn to get onto the small boat, Dr Dan makes another spectacular find.
A cluster of shark egg capsules. With tiny red baby sharks still squirming inside the capsules. The big white spheres are the egg yolks that are sustaining the little babies! Andy and the others took much better photos and video clips of them. I'm sure we will see them soon.
Adult sharks have been seen swimming around at Cyrene. Most recently, a Black-tipped reef shark was sighted by Lee Chew during the Cyrene Safari with the Environmental Engineering Society of Singapore. Sadly, sharks were seen caught in driftnets laid on Cyrene last year. This is why a few of us have started Project Driftnet to try to gather data on the impact of abandoned nets and traps on our marine life.

Cyrene is indeed amazingly rich despite being located in the 'industrial triangle' of Pulau Bukom, Jurong Island and Pasir Panjang Container Terminals. Cyrene is also near ongoing massive coastal developments. Looking out from my transect line, I can see the massive reclamation project for a new container terminal at Pasir Panjang.
Here is a closer look at the reclamation site, which extends between the two red arrows.
There are plans to reclaim the portion of Jurong Island near Cyrene Reef. Hopefully, these will not affect Cyrene too badly. This is why it's important to study and monitor Cyrene. More about the seagrasses today on the TeamSeagrass blog.

More about Cyrene Reef!

It was lovely to meet up with the Duke University students again. I just found out the students have been blogging about their experiences in Singapore! How nice!

And fabulous to finally be able to share Cyrene with Dr Dan. We have been trying to schedule this for years. He sure finds amazing things on our shores! From dugong at Chek Jawa to baby sharks at Cyrene! Thank you Dr Dan!

Tomorrow, one more field trip to try to remove abandoned driftnets on Pulau Semakau!

Other posts about this trip


  1. The shark eggs would probably belong to bamboo sharks or nurse sharks, since black-tipped reef sharks & their relatives give birth to live young.

  2. Wow, thanks Ivan for this information!

  3. I don't think it's a very good idea to actually lift the eggs out of the water.. have to be very careful when putting them back, making sure to squeeze out any air bubbles that might have formed inside the case when lifting them out of the water. The air bubbles will significantly reduce surface area for diffusion.

  4. Thank you anonymous for this information. The egg cases were washed ashore and on the sand out of water when we found them. They were not attached to the ground. We put them back after having a look at them. But you're right, we should be careful about such egg cases in future.



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