Jun 6, 2008

Cyrene Reef (Jun 08)

6am and the Team is back on Cyrene Reef to monitor the fabulous seagrasses on this submerged reef right in the middle of our port!We soon made a safe landing with Melvin and his crew of the Dolphin and were off to monitor the seagrasses. Today we were also joined by Dr Raju who is a GIS expert and has kindly offered to help map out the Reef. He came even though he had a morning meeting and had to rush off early from the field trip.

Of course, as usual, focused on doing the monitoring, I neglected to take photos of the Team at work.

With the monitoring over, we had a quick look around this amazing reef. Although it lies right next to major shipping lanes to a world class container port, and just across a narrow channel from world class industrial and petrochemical plants, this reef has rich seagrasses, star-studded sand bars and living reefs.

The seagrasses of Cyrene are home to baby Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus).And there were many of these young sea stars near Site 2 which I did this morning.Some of the stars are so small that they only had one knob on the arms! Aren't they so cute?!

Chim Chee Kong is conducting a study of Knobbly sea stars on Cyrene Reef and he was with the Team this morning. On his Star Tracker blog he has this to say about Cyrene Reef

The population (of Knobbly sea stars on Cyrene) contained a wide range of body size. The presence of juveniles, subadults and adults indicated that there is a healthy level of recruitment at Cyrene Reef. This habitat may be the only sustainable population of knobbly seastars left in Singapore today.

Another special star that Robin found today among the seagrasses is this Nepanthia sea star.It has a colourful underside too (photo on the right). This sea star is also sometimes seen on Chek Jawa. In many ways, Cyrene is like the Chek Jawa of the South.

Among the sea grasses today, I saw lots of white fan worms.Collin spotted a Ceratosoma nudibranch.While Sam pointed out the many slugs that resembled red algae!The seagrasses are home to large carpet anemones (also like at Chek Jawa). And the carpet anemones are in turn homes for anemone shrimps! These are often found in a pair, with the larger female with bold white markings, and the more slender male who is more transparent.

Collin also did another check of the fishes of the seagrasses at Cyrene and found many of the same fishes seen at the last check; like the Bearded filefish, razorfish and many filefishes. Here's more about that trip.

I also spotted the Cowfish!This pretty box-like fish has two horns at the top of its head that gives it its common name.

In Site 2, the seagrass area had lots of zoanthids.
Zoanthids look like tiny anemones, but each is connected to one another. So they are sometimes called colonial anemones. Dr James Reimer, zoanthid expert, is currently in Singapore and a few of the Team had been on field trips with him over the last few days; to Kusu Island and Pulau Hantu. And when the Team got back to the mainland, we met Dr James who was taking the same boat out to go diving at Hantu and Raffles Lighthouse to look for zoanthids!

There are MORE zoanthids near the reefs of Cyrene.
The pink fluffy thing is probably a red seaweed.
Cyrene's reefs have lots of large soft corals of all kinds of shapes and colours. Soft corals are colonies of tiny polyps that live in a shared tissue.Here's a closer look a leathery soft coral colony that looks like fingers! You can see the tiny polyps in the colony in the photo on the right.

There were hard corals galore, including some rarer ones like this Acropora coral.The reefs today were studded with busy Glossodoris atromarginata nudibranchs.Shufen also found this strange snail.We don't really know what it is.

All too soon, it was time to go home as the tide rushed in.It's then really obvious that Cyrene is a SUBMERGED reef. We are taken back to the main boat in two batches and I hopped on the first ride back. Here's the rest of the Team on the fast disappearing reef, waiting to be taken back.

1 comment:

Ivan said...

Based on the seashells guidebook, I'm thinking it might be Astraea calcar. Note the operculum, which hints that it belongs to the same family as the turban shell.