22 January 2012

Seagrass surprise on Cyrene!

For the first time, today I saw the fruit of Sickle seagrass! Amazing that despite all the years of seagrass work, neither Siti nor I have seen this before!
We also saw lots of other interesting marine life and got much work done!

Here's a closer look at the amazing little fruit of the Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii). It was only about 1cm tall and looks like a tiny version of the fruit of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides)! Thanks to Siti's advice, I managed to gently slice it open to reveal the single large seed inside the fruit!
I was back on Cyrene Reef with Siti and her valiant team, for some serious seagrass work! When we first arrive, the tide is still a little high.
It's awesome to know that there are folks who can make time for this even though it's Lunar New Year Eve!
They have come to help Siti maintain her seagrass experiment on Cyrene. It's hard, back breaking work! But many hands make light work!
And today, Siti provides us with snazzy new spotty gloves! Thumbs up say Maxine!
Meanwhile, I got a break from scrapping and hauling and helped Jamie gather some growing shoots of Sickle seagrass. It's for her experiment in seagrasses too. It's hard work to find suitable shoots as there is too much seagrass on Cyrene!
I had a chance to walk by the big pool that used to be full of long Tape seagrass and teeming with all kinds of fishes including huge pipefishes. Alas, the pool is still empty and blue. I worry that the Tape seagrasses will never grow back here again. Sigh. But on a positive note, the Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) seems to have expanded its coverage greatly!
After finishing our work, we had a quick look around. I brought them to the spot where there are plenty of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus). Siti and I are amazed to learn that Maxine has never seen one of these before! Well, hopefully the huge numbers of them on Cyrene will make it up to her.
Along the way we came across a Carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) with an anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) separated from it, as the tide was very low. While I was on Cyrene, I only saw the big fat female shrimp and totally missed her male partner.
Until I got home and took a closer look at the photo! Isn't he amazingly camouflaged!
I also came across a nice Egg white moon snail (Polinices albumen), which so far I only encounter regularly on Cyrene.
The White sea urchins (Salmacis sp) population boom seems to be over. I saw fewer sea urchins today, and some were clearly dying. This one is already losing its spines and being eaten by hermit crabs.
I saw one large Olive snail (Oliva miniacea) burrowing in the sand.
I also came across empty shells of two different kinds of Giant clams (Tridacna sp.)!
We had a safe trip back on the dinghy, and the water was so calm we could even take photos of one another.
Although we could see that it was pouring over the mainland, and hear scary thunder, we had fine weather over Cyrene. And enjoyed a lovely sunset!
There were two other boats that came very close to Cyrene while we were there. This one seemed to have fishermen.
This other boat came close but didn't stop.
As we left, we notice flaring over Jurong Island.
Here's Siti in the final dinghy trip back, with the petrochemical refineries on Pulau Bukom in the background. Cyrene lies in the middle of the industrial triangle and yet it has amazing marine life!
We had good weather, great company and got lots of good work done! Another day well spent on Cyrene! Let's hope our luck holds for the low spring tides over the next three days!

Lunar New Year always coincides with spring tides because both are influenced by the moon!


  1. Great pics Ria and first time I have seen a fruit on a seagrass so thank you for sharing. The knobbly sea stars are awesome and remind me of the beauties I saw in Torres Strait. The shrimp is splendid too and it's good to know I'm not the only person who experiences such surprises when I review my photos at home!My respect to all of you for your dedication to this muddy messy but important project

  2. Thanks Russell as always for your kind encouragement. Torres Strait must be paradise! It is famous!



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