28 August 2011

Another special sea star at Semakau!

It's raining, the tide's not very low but a small team headed out to Pulau Semakau for a quick look around.
I revisited the Api-api jambu that Brandon spotted in Jun 2011.

The Critically Endangered Api-api jambu (Avicennia marina) is not very common, so it's nice to know that there are many on Pulau Semakau. The little tree was profusely flowering and fruiting! It has the typical 'square' stems, a trunk with greenish bark and very long pencil roots.

Along the way, I spotted another small tree that might also be an Api-api jambu. It wasn't flowering or fruiting yet.
Another very rare plant on Pulau Semakau is the Critically Endangered Bonduc (Caesalpina bonduc). This is the only known female plant in Singapore so far. I had a quick look and it had two more seed pods. The plant seemed a little less 'leafy' but was otherwise alright.
I also noticed some shorebirds feeding at the waterline.
They walked slowly and every now and then, jabbed into the silty sand to grab at something.
Here's some more photos of the birds. There were about six of them moving together. I'm not really sure what kind of shore birds they are.
There was a lot of splashing in the water with the incoming tide, but I couldn't see what animals were involved. Sharks perhaps? It was too wet and murky to figure out.

Oh dear, I came across another abandoned driftnet. There was a dead crab in it. Sigh. Soon I headed back as it got dark and the rain started to get heavier.
We were actually a superfluous addition to the trip which was mainly aimed at diving Pulau Semakau. Here's Jeemee and Ivan before we departed, with their seriously amazing underwater camera gear.
Ivan's camera has strange pointy things on the strobes. Hee hee.
The weather was really rough, with strong winds making for a very choppy journey. As we arrived at Semakau, the dive team gets ready for the plunge. Mei Lin and Chay Hoon are also diving.

When we rejoined the dive team later in the evening, we had a quick look as some of the amazing creatures they encountered during the dive.
Mei Lin found this sea star that none of us have seen before! This is Chay Hoon's photo of it. Hopefully, Kok Sheng can help us sort out the ID. During an earlier dive trip, Jeemee also took wonderful photos of another sea star that we've not seen before. Semakau is turning out to be rather star-spangled when we look closely.
Chay Hoon also saw these strange things. They also saw enormous sea fans, some with sea anemones clinging to them. Also lots of other critters.
Of course, Chay Hoon saw lots of nudibranchs.
It's amazing what we can find in our waters if we look closely! More on their posts below.

Alas, massive flaring was also going on at Jurong Island throughout our trip.

Posts by others on this trip
  • Mei Lin with photos of the unknown sea star and other special finds.
  • James with lovely photos of birds and bugs.


  1. From post: I'm not really sure what kind of shore birds they are.

    These short-beaked shorebirds appear to be Charadrius mongolus (Lesser Sand Plover). Based on the chestnut breasts & dark eyebands, the birds you saw are probably in the breeding stage. According to the Slim Sreedharan's 'Birds of Singapore', this species is a common winter visitor & passage migrant.

    Charadrius leschenaultii (Greater Sand Plover) -- an uncommon winter/passage visitor in S'pore -- has somewhat similar plumage, & is mainly distinguished by its larger size & longer legs.

    If you don't happen to see the 2 species side by side, look out for the *innermost corner* of the white patch on the bird's cheek -- Greater Sand Plover has a broader/more rounded corner, while the Lesser Sand Plover has a narrower, more acute corner.

    Charadrius mongolus (Lesser Sand Plover):
    Photo & Description, Video

    Charadrius leschenaultii (Greater Sand Plover):
    Photo, Description & Drawings, Video (Changi Creek)

    See also:
    1) Separating Greater & Lesser Sand Plovers
    2) Photos of non-breeding Lesser vs. Greater Sand Plover (scroll 1/3 of the way down)

  2. Wow, Pat thanks! I'm hopeless with birds, so this is very useful. I learnt a lot!



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