20 February 2015

Tiny tails at Cyrene

In the middle of an Industrial Triangle lies the beautiful Cyrene Reef. It's right next to the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom, here producing a large white 'cloud' of emissions.
Every time we visit Cyrene, we see something new! Yesterday, we saw lots of different kinds of tailed-slugs. I didn't notice coral bleaching, but some of the seagrasses are crisping.

I saw this cute little slug and Chay Hoon identified it as a tailed-slug. At first I thought it was a voracious gymnodoris nudibranch that eats other slugs!
I also saw many of these all black tailed slugs. While Kok Sheng found a really pretty tailed-slug. And Chay Hoon found a striped tailed-slug. Chay Hoon says all these slugs might be first records for Singapore! Cyrene is simply amazing!
This bundle of tentacles turned out to be a pair of Blue dragon nudibranchs mating!
I saw one large Forskal's sidegill slug. The rest saw many of them, so they must be in season again!
So far, I've only seen this large Olive snail on Cyrene.
My first sighting of the Estuarine moray eel on Cyrene.
Sijie found what looks like a Walker's cowrie. Which Chee Kong found on Cyrene and identified some years back.
Jianlin found a box crab, probably the Reef box crab, our first sighting of this on Cyrene. The pincers of box crabs are specialised for cracking open snail shells. The snail is gripped in the left pincer which has pointed claws. With the right pincer, which is stronger, the crab cuts pieces of the shell from the shell opening. Once the gap is big enough, the crab can enjoy its snail meal.
I saw this strange sea anemone. Kok Sheng also found another strange anemone. We also saw several e Snaky sea anemones, Swimming anemones, Giant carpet anemones as well as some cerianthids.
There were lots and lots of Common sea stars. I believe Cyrene Reef probably has the largest number of these sea stars of all our shores. As well as Cake sand dollars on the sand bars.
There were a few small Pencil sea urchins and this one was clutching on to a small piece of rubble when I turned it over. There were also many small to medium sized White salmacis sea urchins.
Kok Sheng found this little sea cucumber which we are not familiar with. Is it a young white-rumped sea cucumber? Or something else. So much more to learn and discover!
I didn't see many Knobbly sea stars. It appears they have all moved to another part of the reef which I didn't visit. Kok Sheng found them there. One of those that I did see had a little green Arrowhead crab on it.
But I did see many baby Knobbly sea stars. Some of them were quite small (about 8cm, others a little larger 12cm). Cyrene is the only place I've been in Singapore where we can see many of these little babies.
But the best baby of the day was the young Pentaceraster sea star that Kok Sheng found. Kok Sheng found another one later on while Jianlin found another elsewhere too. It's good to know these sea stars are still reproducing on Cyrene Reef.
I noticed almost all the different kinds of seagrasses that were high and dry at low tide were crispy. Except for Spoon seagrasses which were still green even those growing on the exposed parts of the shore.
Crispy burnt Needle seagrass and bleaching Serrated ribbon seagrass.
This Tape seagrass managed to grow quite long before alas, it too got crisped and burnt.
Some of the Noodle seagrasses were bleaching!This is the first time I've noticed this.
I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone that seemed to be about to bleach. But the others that I saw were alright.
It was recently reported that there might be global mass coral bleaching in 2015, so it's important to keep an eye on our reefs. I didn't manage to reach the reefiest part of Cyrene. But the hard corals I saw were all alright. I didn't come across any that were bleaching.
I saw a few large Leathery soft corals and they were not bleaching either.
Some of the Asparagus flowery soft corals were a little yellow (left photo) but most were nice and purple (right photo).
 The marine life that encrust the pontoons at Marine at Keppel Bay seemed alright.
Cyrene is also close to Jurong Island, as well as Pasir Panjang Container Terminal. On this trip, we saw one boat full of fishermen, and another boat with two persons who looked like they were placing or checking fish traps just at the reef edge. But none of us came across nets or fish traps on the intertidal.
All too soon the sun set, the tide turned and it was time to go home. Our last trip to Cyrene was in Jul 2014 when we nearly died. Fortunately, we had a calm and wonderful trip this time!
Let's hope Cyrene stays safe until we have a chance to visit again!

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