One of the curious creatures I saw were these tiny ctenaphores on a huge leathery soft coral. These are not flatworms but belong to the Phylum Ctenaphora and can produce very long fine tentacles for filter feeding. They blend perfectly on their leathery coral host! Nicholas Yap shared more about them (I need to start a wild fact sheet on these little critters).
leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) that they were on, and at one of the little beasts and the fine nets of tentacles that they produce.
Acoel flatworm (Acoela) on this Small goniopora coral (Goniopora sp.).
Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.) and a Starry flatworm (Pseudobiceros stellae). I only saw the Jorunna funebris nudibranch but the rest of the team found lots more.
brittle stars. Marcus also found the rarely seen Bodaschia sea cucumber (Bodaschia vitensis) which spewed sticky strings on him. I got some on my fingers too, and they were really hard to remove. So far, we've only seen this sea cucumber on Cyrene Reef.
Banded mantis shrimp (Lysiosquilla sp.). We don't see this very often. These superb predators have a Swiss Army knife of strange implements on the underside to capture and eat their prey. This one, though, seems to have lost its raptorial pincers?
Eggwhite moon snail (Polinices albumen)?
Spurred turban snail (Astralium calcar) and found out that it has a pretty striped body and striped tentacles!
parasitic snails (probably Family Pyramidellidae) that infest the many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) found on Cyrene. While most are found on top of the sea star, some are wedged in their 'arm pits', in between the arms. I think there might be more than one kind of these snails that suck on the body fluids of the sea stars. Some of the tiny ones floated on the water surface when they are dislodged from the sea star, several forming 'rafts'.
Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) for parasites and found none. But I did see this fish hiding next to a Knobbly!
octopuses out and about in the dark when we first arrived. I had fun looking at them in the high water.
leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae), though most are rather fragmented and small. None that I saw were bleaching.
Pore coral (Porites sp.) and as usual, an abundance of Favid corals (Family Faviidae). None of those I saw were bleaching. Although Pei Yan saw one large bleaching coral elsewhere on Cyrene.
flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) I saw were purple, a normal healthy colour. Some of the special corals I saw included Brain corals (Family Mussidae), Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.), Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.) Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.). There were also several Flowery disk corals (Turbinaria sp.). None of those I saw were bleaching, although some of the Small gonipora corals (Goniopora sp.) were rather yellowish.
Brain anchor coral (Euphyllia ancora) that seemed healthy and unbleached. These were among the first to bleach during the mass coral bleaching event in 2010.
Jul 2010. This event spurred me to start Project Driftnet and the shark found dead on Cyrene is on the banner of the Project blog. Ivan also released a shark from a fish trap in Aug 2011. Today, Russel and Pei Yan saw a large fish trap on Cyrene.
Mar 2011 and Nov 2011. We also often come across shark egg capsules on Cyrene.
It's amazing that such wonderful marine life abound on a submerged reef in the middle of the industrial triangle!
I'll be back on Cyrene on Tuesday with another team from the Maritime Port Authority. I'm also excited about the workshop on bivalves next week.
So much to see and do for our shores!
Posts by others on this trip