Saturday, January 30, 2010

1st Hunting Seeking @ Pulau Semakau for 2010

A return to Pulau Semakau after a good 3 month away. My partner for this session was S who's a student at NIE. A Biology teacher in the making too! The survey area we were assigned to this time was very near to the 'dead zone' At the mangrove area, we spotted quite a fair bit of Cerithidea cingulata and Batillaria zonalis. Wonder why these species are always found at the mangrove area. There were a couple of Porcelain Fiddler Crab. The large claws which the male possess is actually used to court females.

Would be interesting to find out the different 'courtship wave' for the different species of fiddler crabs.

Moved on to the seagrass area, it was really tough trying to look for organism amongst the seagrass. Always wary of my next step, never know if I would step onto any stonefish lying in the seagrass area. Was wondering if any ghost pipefish have been spotted amongst the seagrass in Semakau. Would love to spot one! Saw some greenish ascidians on the seagrass along the way.

While walking through the seagrass, spotted a smasher mantis shrimp moving. Both me and S tried to snap pictures of it but everytime we got near it, it started moving away. To make matter worse, it was green in colour, so it was really tough trying to spot it amongst the seagrass. As the name implies, these shrimps use their front pincers to hit their prey till they are immobilised before dragging them back to their burrow.

Moving on from the seagrass area, we headed out to the more sandy area and spotted many Sand-sifting Sea Stars.

I've heard some other groups spotted many Knobbly Sea Star but in our area, didn't even spot any. Wondering why do these sea star just occupy a particular area, or are they constantly on the move? Along the way, we spotted a Haddon's Carpet Anemone and found two anemone shrimp within it. Think one of it is the juvenile as it looks much smaller compared to the other shrimp. The anemone shrimp are protected from the sting of the anemone because of a layer of mucus. Wonder if the layer of mucus is similar in chemical composition as that of the anemonefish.

Saw a fan shell in the sandy area.

There was also the familiar sighting of the hairy crab. Wonder why they are always in abundance at Semakau.

At the coral rubble, we spotted a Cushion Star! It was my first sighting of it at Semakau!

As we walked along, we spotted a Polka Dot Nudibranch. The markings are actually raised black bristle on the skin.

A flower crab was also seen. Flower crab are recognised by most Singaporeans as they usually end up on our dinner plate. The last pair of legs for these marine crab are shaped like a paddle and helps the crab to propel through the water.

As we walked towards the reef edge, a Sandfish Sea Cucumber was spotted. These sea cucumber are dried and sold in medical shops. The price for sea cucumbers can be rather pricey too.

An Upside Down Jellyfish was also seen.

At the reef edge, I noticed that there were a number of Red Swimming Crab. Tried to snap some picture but was not very clear.

It was yet another enjoyable and fun-filled hunting-seeking session. Never fail to go home, intrigue by the wonders of Nature.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hunting Seeking at Pulau Semakau on 22nd August

It was another hunting seeking session at Pulau Semakau. The low tide time seems to get earlier and earlier (there goes my beauty sleep...). I reached the Marina South Pier at 0430 hrs *gasp* (even worse than army days!). As there were less volunteers this session, I was on my own for the hunting seeking session.

At the Mangrove area, there seemed to be quite a lot of Cerithidea cingulata, Batillaria zonalis, Clypeomonus zonata. From the ID chart, the difference seemed to be the patterns on the shell but I was still rather unsure on how to differentiate them.

A Dog Whelk was spotted next crawling along the mangrove shore.

There were lots of Acorn worm in the area as well.

As I moved on towards the sandy area, there were a couple of Sand-Shifting Sea Star in the area.

The seagrass area proved to be a really challenging area to hunt for any species, It was really back breaking trying to sieve through all the seagrass. Spotted a Sea Cucumber (not too sure if it was an Ocellated Sea Cucumber or a Dragonfish Sea Cucumber) in the midst of all the seagrass.

I also spotted some greenish stuff on the seagrass. (Will need to find out what that is)

I collected a what looked like a juvenile swimming crab along the way. It was missing a cheliped.

I was also quite surprised to find Black Long-Spined Sea Urchin hidden amongst the dead corals. Usually I will find it in abundance whilst diving off Tioman and simply brush if off but I was fairly happy to be able to spot it in Semakau. First time I saw sea urchin here!

I was pretty amazed by the size of the Sandfish Sea Cucumber. It was really huge and blended in very nicely in the sand.

Tried to take pictures of a Red Egg Crab but it eluded me.

At the reef edge, I spotted a Glossodoris atromarginata.

I observed that one can find these nudibranch more at the reef edge while the Jorunna funebris are more commonly spotted in tidal pools in the coral rubble area.

A Phyllidiella nigra was also seen near the reef edge.

Met up with the rest of my students at the reef edge and headed back to the mangrove area together with them as the tide was coming in. A few surprises awaited us as we walked back.

Surprise Number 1

One of my students spotted an Upside Down Jellyfish.

It was really great to see how these students have developed in their knowledge of these intertidal organism. Think some of them are even better than me in identifying these organism. The Chinese have this saying ‘Qing Chu Yu Lan, Shen Yu Lan’ (not too sure if I got this saying correct). How apt!

Surprise Number 2

KQ spotted a fish and initially thought it was a dead fish. I walked over and to my surprise it was a juvenile frogfish!

Never thought I would see one during an intertidal walk. My only encounters with them are during my dives. It’s rather amazing to note the biodiversity Semakau has to offer!

To round off the hunting seeking session, the iconic Knobbly Sea Star was spotted!

All in all, it was great hunting seeking sessions!