Oct 26, 2007

Cyrene Reef (26 Oct 07)

We're back on our most favourite shore!
Wow, was it hot though! Here is Robin, having laid out all the gear while the rest of us were landing.

We quickly got started on monitoring to catch the tide. I got arrowed to do Site 2 which was really far away. When we got there, we realised two of the poles that marked the start point were missing! Fortunately, spare poles were brought along. And soon Robin and Wei Ling got the missing points marked out again.

Today the Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) are blooming!The vast seagrass meadows were dotted with tiny white male flowers. Cyrene is a submerged reef that lies just opposite our container port and is flanked by Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island. And yet, it has such marvellously rich habitats.

Well, back to those blooming seagrasses...
The male flowers are really tiny (the white things) and look like bits of styrofoam floating on the water. They emerge from a large bract (see the V-shaped thing in the right photo) and tend to cluster together to form rafts.

The female flowers are much larger and have three large white petals. Here is a female flower with several male flowers clustered around the parts which count for pollination. Plant sex in action! Oops.

The seagrass meadows of Cyrene are full of life!
But you have to look closely. There's a little green fish in the left photo that matches the seagrasses perfectly. While on the right photo there's a goby that matches the sand!

The seagrasses had tiny little crabs, and rare snails. The baby flower crab is quite common, but the cylindrical seagrasses it was seen in are rare. The Black-lipped conch (Strombus urcea) is a snail on the list on Singapore's threatened animals due to habitat loss.

The seagrasses were also crawling with synaptid seacucumbers.These long delicate animals are sometimes mistaken for worms. But they are actually relatives of the sea stars, sand dollars and sea urchins!

And above the water, there's life too!I saw this little marine spider (Desis sp.) literally walking on water. This is a true spider but it lives in the intertidal. At high tide when the entire Cyrene is submerged it hides in a crevice in coral rubble, breathing from a bubble of air. At low tide. it comes out to hunt.

Among the coral rubble was also this small Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).It had a pair of anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) which I totally missed until I processed the photo when I got home *slap forehead*.

Cyrene is like the Chek Jawa of the South. Many of the animals we encounter on Chek Jawa can also be seen on Cyrene reef.
These feathery animals are worms! Fan worms have a bristley segmented body that is hidden in a tube. Their heads are topped by feathery tentacles that emerge from the tube to gather food.

I also came across some peacock anemones!These animals are more frequently encountered on Northern shores such as Changi and Chek Jawa.

There were really small Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) everywhere today! This is quite an unusual sighting.The sand bar is also littered with sand dollars.

But what was amazing was the many small Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) that we saw today!There were red ones and brown ones.

And this poor 4-armed one which also had lost the tip of one of its remaining arms. Someone must have really chomped on it. Poor thing!
All too soon, the tide turned and the sun set. Wait a minute! We nearly forgot to take our traditional group TeamSeagrass photo!
The team is a little fried from the heat and tired from all the work and running around. So this is the best photo I took.

We missed an earlier slated trip due to boat problems. This time Shufen performed yet another miracle and got us a boat with a dinghy so it was a wonderful safe landing. Many other team members took lots of amusing photos of the landing. Here's some shared by Ron on his tidechaser blog.

Thank you to the team members who came: Chay Hoon, Gaytri, Jo, Wee Lian, Ron, Marcus, Robin, Kok Sheng and Andy.

This weekend is going to be rush of many monitoring sessions! I'm looking forward to it!

Other blogs about this trip
Ron's tidechaser blog: urchins, LOTS of knobbly sea stars and a really strange slug!
Marcus' budak blog: lots of beautiful photos of Cyrene, and of the team in action.
Andy's red dot blog with a video clip!
Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog: leaping fishes and shark egg cases

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