Although it may be alarming to see us with so many specimens to be preserved, we are quite selective. Primarily because we don't want to kill unnecessarily and also because there is only limited time and space. The Comprehensive Biodiversity Survey of Singapore aims to be just that: comprehensive, and to understand the diversity of biological marine life.
Prof Daphne is glad to see one of our Alicia sea anemones. Sea anemones cannot be identified from photographs alone. We need to look at tiny internal parts (here's an explanation by Prof Daphne during her previous visit to Singapore) which requires preserving the animal. This is true of almost every animal and even plant for a sure identification. But Prof Daphne only takes a few specimens and she firmly reminds everyone NOT to take specimens of large sea anemones that are already well known to us. There are many scientists like Prof Daphne who are working hard to come up with ways to identify animals WITHOUT having to kill them. But to get to this point, we first need to photograph them while alive and correlate it with studies of killed samples. This is being done extensively at the Mega Marine Survey.
Neon sea anemone for Prof Daphne. We have yet to identify this anemone so we need to take a sample. For a confirmed ID, we usually need to take at least 5 specimens. Just as with humans, there can be wide variations in colour, form and other features within the same species.
Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) nearby! Similar to what I saw in Mar 2013 and Aug 2012. Regular surveys are important in giving a better sense of our how shores are doing over time.
Cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae). Prof Daphne spotted another smaller one earlier on. Beting Bemban Besar is quite starry!
feather stars. Are these different from those the divers found? Different from those found in deeper waters from the dredge? Do the same animals need different habitats for their life cyles? Will these animals be affected by reclamation or development of any of these habitats? Questions like these can only be answered by sampling and the sacrifice of a few animals. The answers not only help us understand these animals but also provide stronger arguments for the conservation of our marine ecosystems.
mantis shrimp which I have never seen before on our Southern shores. It is very difficult to know that these animals exist on our shores without such an effort. And impossible to identify these animals from a photograph alone. Every additional specimen helps to add to the understanding of the true richness and value of each shore.
|Photo by Ivan Kwan.|
his photo uploaded to facebook as 'quiz of the day'. Visit the link to find out what it is! This animal was collected in a dredge survey and we would never know it existed if we did not take a sample of the bottom of our seabed.
|Photo by Dr Arthur Anker|
Southern Shores guidesheet as I usually do for TeamSeagrass field trips. Perhaps it was very early in the morning, but no one laughed at my jokes. Sigh.
Mar 2013 for a recce.
As we are about to leave, we hear shouts from the Terumbu Bemban team just across the narrow channel. They have found a Giant clam! Hurray! We just take the GPS location of the clam and leave it where it is. These clams will be monitored by Giant Clam Girl (Neo Mei Lin) who is doing important work to try to restore the Giant clam population in Singapore.
|Photo by Ivan Kwan.|
|Photo by Ivan Kwan.|
During the Expedition, I will try to post live updates on twitter as well as to facebook and the Mega Marine Survey facebook page. These will get less frequent as I start to do field work. I'm not very good at the smart phone in the field, and also, phone connections are not always strong enough to post regularly. So also check out tweets by participants using the hashtag for the Survey #MegaMarine. These are consolidated on the Mega Marine Survey blog.
Volunteer sign up for the Southern Expedition are already closed due to limited places and early logistical arrangements needed for participation.
But no worries, you CAN still join the Survey! Lots of surveys will continue after the Expedition, just at a less frenzied rate. There will be lots of other opportunities for volunteers to participate in dredging, field surveys as well as laboratory sessions. To join the Mega Marine Survey, register your interest in this form and you'll be invited to join the mailing list to receive updates on the Survey and sign up for Survey activities. Also check out the FAQs for more about the Survey.