Nov 23, 2006

Semakau (22 Nov 06)

An amphibious landing on Semakau was achieved by the intrepid TeamSeagrass! With a very obliging boatman at the helm, we managed to get off onto the seagrass meadows without having to swim. In the desultory drizzle, the vast meadows of Semakau was quite romantic.Shufen brought walkie-talkies! Siti is delighted. The rest of us are regaled by details of seagrasses and measurements as the walkie talks echo across the flats.

The Team works relentlessly. Examining everything closely, against the light and on the ground.

Seagrasses are important nurseries for sea creatures.
Mama Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) is a large snail with a handsome orange-spotted body. She has just laid an egg case (see the lumpy thing on the right?).

Teeny tiny fishies swarm in the meadows. Almost too tiny to see now, they might grow up to be delicious seafood.
There were succulent egg cases too, possibly of octopus.

Giant sea anemones nestle among the seagrasses (the large furry-looking thing on the upper right). Mushroom corals are also plentiful (the little pom pom on the lower left). These corals with fat white-tipped tentacles are often mistaken for anemones. Their long tentacles obscure the hard sekeleton. Little shrimps are sometimes found among the tentacles.
Semakau has magnificent reefs too. Despite the proximity of gigantic petrochemical plants, and our landfill, Semakau's reefs are very much alive.
Semakau's vast reefs have a dazzling variety of hard corals.
Corals are animals. To be specific, they are colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp produces a hard cup to live in, and the joined up skeletons of countless polyps create massive reefs! If you take a closer look, you can see the tiny animals in a hard coral. They have tentacles like sea anemones. It's amazing that such small delicate animals create the bewildering variety of designs and shapes of hard corals.Large soft corals are also abundant on the shores. These are colonial animals too, but instead of a hard skeleton, they share a leathery common tissue. Some look like fried eggs, others like discarded surgical gloves.
Of course there were lots of seagrasses. Long Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) dominates the shores, spreading out for kilometres. Amongst them, tiny Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), skinny Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.), flat Ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata) and the tubular Syringodium which is not seen elsewhere.

Later when we got back together, Colin showed us a photo of a small but very fleshy Giant is so cute!
Rain or shine, we go when it's low!
And TeamSeagrass always has a good time on the shore.

Next trip is in mid-December. Details will be posted to those on the TeamSeagrass mailing list.

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