It was a lean team that landed for the first TeamSeagrass monitoring of this very grassy reef. We quickly headed out to nearby Transect 1 to set up the lines.
Andy was obviously very ready to whack something with the Team Mallet. Fortunately, the ladies quickly figured out where to place the markers so Andy could vent onto the stake. (The Mallet intriguingly had a label that said it was useful for 'removing ordinary nails'--we couldn't figure out how that would be possible).
Then it was time to set up Transect 2. "Follow me!" Siti says...and she promptly heads off, literally into the horizon.
The rest of us trudge on behind her, past vistas of amazing marine life on Cyrene: star-studded sand flats, pools thick with seagrasses. "Are we THERE yet?" we complain loudly...alas, it was a loooong walk before we did get there.
Due to the shortage of hands, I actually did monitoring for the first time! Well, actually, Annabelle did the Real Monitoring and I just moved the quadrant from point to point and took pictures. Cyrene is quite challenging to monitor because it has so many different seagrasses, which unfortunately, look similar.
To identify the species, it requires close examination and much squinting at leaf veins and such. As this dilligent team at Transect 1 was still doing long after the rest of us were done.
Soon, we were done monitoring and spent the rest of the tide checking out the reef. Besides the enormous expanse of seagrasses, there are also vast stretches of coral rubble and reef flats. All right next to major shipping lanes. See the giagantic ship in the background that transports cars!
The seagrasses are full of life! We spotted a baby Knobbly sea star. Like a cartoon version of the bigger adult star, it was so cute and small! At Transect 2, the seagrasses were crawling with white sea urchins, some gathered together in big piles. It was hard to walk without stepping on them. These urchins also 'carry' things such as shells, bits of debris.
There were several carpet anemones and most had a pair of anemone shrimps. On the sandy area, I startled a little soldier crab that waved its elongated pincers at me as it back pedaled into the wet sand and promptly disappeared from view.
In a pool among the seagrasses, there was this frisky colourful fish that swam happily about, ignoring me. I've no idea what it is.
And the team at Transect 1 spotted this Cowfish in their study area! Mr Budak shares more about this amazing fish, including its scientific name: Lactoria cornuta.
Cyrene reef is just amazing! More on the Budak blog with photos and stories about the sea hares and sea stars found there.
All too soon, we had to leave as the tide rushed back in. We had a little bit of an adventure clambering back up the boat as it moved up and down in the surge. Then the boat got stuck and manly team members had to push it off the reef. Fortunately, we all got back more or less in one piece.
What a great trip! And it would not have been possible without team members Andy, Annabelle, Chay Hoon, Dionne, Kevin, Marcus and Vyna. Thank you!
Dr Chua Ee Kiam also joined us for this trip. The observant regular reader will notice we are missing the usual happy team group photo. Well, Dr Chua took the group photo and this will be posted as soon as we get it from him. There's no escaping the group photo!