22 December 2011

Tuas quickly

The tide is not very low, but we're out to check up on the Tuas shore with Sheryl. She leads TeamSeagrass monitoring at Tuas with volunteers at Merck, whose property fronts the shore.
I took the opportunity to get a closer look at some creatures commonly seen on this shore.

Sea fans are quite commonly found at Tuas. Here's a closer look a the lovely little polyps on a sea fan that is shaped like a candelabra. Wah, I can see the insides of the nearly transparent polyps. And see how they can retract completely into the common tissue.
Another abundant creature at Tuas are flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae). These are colonies of tiny polyps that emerge from a shared common tissue. The tissues are reinforced with tiny spikes of calcium carbonate. These spikes may form a 'basket' around the polyps. Alas, the polyps had their branched tentacles tucked into the body column. The polyps, however, can't retract completely into the common tissue. They merely curl up into bumps.
Tiny brittle stars infest these soft corals! They are quite small and fast moving.
I also took a closer look at a Ball flowery soft coral. Alas, the polyps refused to open up to show their tentacles.
Inside the ball flowery soft coral was a pair of pretty brittle stars.
Also a pair of white snapping shrimps! They are very shy and hard to photograph.
We checked with Sheryl about the very long driftnet that we saw when we were last at Tuas. When the Merck volunteers returned to remove the rest of it, it was already gone. Hopefully the fisherman had removed it.

More trips coming up as the last low spring tides of the year approach!

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