Apr 10, 2008

Cyrene Reef (10 April 2008)

Still bleary-eyed near the crack of dawn, Team Seagrass met at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club to take a boat down to the Cyrene Reef.

Upon reaching Cyrene reef though, the last traces of the Sandman’s dust instantly evaporated upon hearing the loudhailer coming from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s boat. “Keep away from the area! It is very dangerous and you might drown!”

Still, despite the undoubtedly menacing warning, the intrepid Team Seagrassers nevertheless made it safely on the sandbar without incident. Here is Wei Ling, leading those who were doing Site 2 to the pole markers.

Whoever said “it’s the journey, not the destination that counts” is a wise man. Even before getting to the pole markers, we were already rewarded with sights of marine life that the seagrass meadows support! We came across at least 2 carpet anemones that had shrimps shyly peeking out under it.

There was also a jellyfish bobbing happily among the seagrasses. Wei Ling was chided by Shu Fen for stepping on white sea urchins. But little wonder - the baby white sea urchin on the right was covered with seaweed – it was really tough to spot!

Gaytri and I got started on monitoring, pegging in at the marker pole and laid out the tape, only to realise...we had no monitoring sheet! The day was saved with Chay Hoon’s slate and the data was recorded on it.

Our transect line unveiled some surprises. We had a seagrass flower at our 50m line and came across a knobbly sea star. Gaytri also spotted these pair of slugs, and we had no idea what it was until Si Jie confirmed that it was a pair of nudibranch! I have never seen them so huge before so these were two real big smoking mamas of the nudibranch species, each about 15cm long!

Plenty of sea stars were out today; we have some knobblys as well as the common sea stars.

We saw this marine worm furiously trying to dig its way in back into its hole after being spotted, and plenty of synaptid sea cucumbers and crabs. One shrimp was playing peek-a-boo from under the mermaid’s fan seaweed.

Si Jie hollered for us to come over when he spotted a nudibranch. It turned out to be the rare melibe nudibranch! Chay Hoon considers this as the Holy Grail of nudibranch, and it was paparazzi galore as other Team Seagrassers take shots of it.
The surprises were not yet over as the day yielded some seahorses. The one on the left is a tigertail seahorse while the picture on the right shows a pregnant papa. One never hears those two words to describe homo sapiens but for the seahorses, during courtship, the female seahorse deposits the eggs into the male seahorses’ pouch. The male then releases sperm, fertilizing the eggs that are safely inside. Some species have gotten their reproduction methods right, I reckon.
All too soon, we headed back to the boat. One never counts on getting the pants dry even when one is leaving Cyrene, because as you can see from Marcus’ fabulous back view, the waters are knee deep and currents around Cyrene are strong. All part of the fun, we say.

Many thanks to Ria and the NParks “garang” girls (you should see how Siti bellowed to the MPA people on the boat at the start of the trip!) Siti, Shu Fen and Wei Ling for making the trip possible. And the Team Seagrassers who helped out: Sijie, Chay Hoon, Kok Sheng, Gaytri, Marcus, Jerald, Robin and Vyna – agreed unanimously that it was one fantastic session!

More about the trip
A round of all special finds on the nature scouter blog
Sightings of NEW sea stars on the wonderful creations blog
Marvellous Melibe a video clip of it swimming! on the colourful clouds blog
Other happenings on the wildfilms blog

No comments: