It's the first predawn trip of 2013, and we visit South Cyrene and Cyrene Reef in one trip!
Mega Marine Survey recce trips for the upcoming Southern Expedition in May. We have lots of ground to cover and few low tides, so we make many stops in one trip!
What we refer to as Cyrene is actually properly called Terumbu Pandan, the largest of the three submerged reefs that are collectively called Cyrene Reefs. The other two are the much smaller: Pandan Beacon and South Cyrene. I've visited South Cyrene before on Siti's trip in Oct 2010. It didn't seem much different today.
Circular mushroom coral at Cyrene (Fungia sp.). There are were also many other common corals and none of those I saw were bleaching.
Spiky flowery soft coral (Family Nephtheidae) which was teeming with all kinds of creatures living among its 'branches'. There was a small False cowrie snail (Family Ovulidae) and many Tiny colourful brittle stars (Ophiothela danae).
spotted fan worms, many swimming anemones, spidery crabs. And my first time seeing an orange sea cucumber on Cyrene. Under the stones, lots of brittlestars, snapping shrimps and bristleworms.
Rose nudibranch (Dendrodoris fumata) laying an egg spiral next to a red sponge!
Glossodoris atromarginata nudibranchs and an Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata).
Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus) (yellow arrows indicate its eyes). Its tail and body are not quite buried (at top left in the photo) The huge V-shaped mouth is just infront of the eyes and would chomp up tasty critters that came too close.
octopus, perfectly blending in with the surrounding sand.
Whelk (Family Nassariidae) that I've not seen before. It has a white body speckled black and a pretty spiralling band around the shell. I'm not too sure yet what it is. [Update: Thanks to Tan Siong Kiat who identified the whelk as Nassarius limnaeiformis].
Reef murex (Chicoreus sp.). The colour seems to be the shell colour and not some encrusting organism.
seagrass sea anemone, or babies of some other kind of sea anemone.
Very long ribbonworm (Baseodiscus delineatus)! With my foot as comparison. This pretty pajama-striped worm is a ferocious predator! To capture its prey, the ribbon worm has a unique eversible proboscis at the front end of the body. This is a hollow, muscular structure that can shoot out with explosive force and is prehensile (can be used to grip) and retractable (can be pulled back). The proboscis is usually wound around the prey which is then hauled back toward the worm's mouth. Sticky mucus is secreted to help grip the prey.
Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) hanging out in their usual spots. And among them, many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus), shamelessly in mating position. Strangely, we didn't come across any small Knobbly sea stars on this trip.
settle naturally on our artificial structures.
More about the Mega Marine Survey and how ordinary people can volunteer for this once-in-a-lifetime effort!