Today was a great day. First of all, it was my virgin trip to Cyrene. Couldn't make it for any of last year's Cyrene trips. Second, the weather was extremely kind. Last but not the least, we found damn lots of stuff today. So following this will only be a selection of critters.
What a beautiful morning. Everyone was of course still in a daze during the boat trip. Haha.
Soon we reached close to the edge of the reef and we hopped on a smaller boat to land on the reef. See the happy and excited faces of everyone.
What a view. Imagine an island that only appears at extreme low tides. That's how Cyrene works - in the middle of nowhere, right in a shipping lane.
While walking to site 2, this was one of the first critters we found - Anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)! Not only one anemone, but quite a few anemones were occupied.
Common seastar (Archaster typicus) 'footprint'. In fact, they were actually buried underneath.
Urchins (Left: Salmacis sp., Right: Possibly a Jewel Box Sea Urchin, Mespilia globulus (Thanks Chay Hoon for ID!))! A couple of others saw urchins of other types too. Quite a variety indeed!
During the transect, I chanced upon this - an amphipod??
Swimming sea anemone (Boloceroides sp.). There's quite a lot of them. I could easily see at least one in every transect.
Jellyfish! Don't know much about it, but personally I haven't seen this type before.
One of my favourites - Nudibranchs! This one should be a Pteraeolida sp..
This was what puzzled Gaytri and Vyna. I found this near their transect and asked them what was it. Then I called out to Chay Hoon, saying that there are two blobs of stuff. While they walked over, I saw something that looked like rhinophores. Only then I realised - Damn! Nudibranchs?! Chay Hoon later confirmed, but not exactly nudis.
These were actually side-gilled slugs, Pleurobranchus forskalii. Instead of gills on their back, they have it on their sides.
There were quite alot of knobbly seastars (Protoreaster nodosus) on Cyrene. However, there was something different.
The one on the right. I asked Chee Kong (my FYP snake mentor, who now works on knobblies in TMSI), and he told me it could be a Protoreaster nodulosus. He's looking into it and we will soon know.
Update: The 'Knobbly' could jolly well be a Red Tubercled Sea Star (Pentaceraster tuberculatus). If it's the case, it could be a new record for the species and its genus even! Wow! *Awaiting for confirmation from Chee Kong.
Seahorses (Hippocampus kuda)! Collin from NParks was looking for them high and low, only to find them on our way back in a water channel. The left is a female and the right could possibly be a 'pregnant' male.
Last but not the least, I found this just before we were heading back to the boat after finding the seahorses. Kok Sheng said it was algae when he saw it. Well, that was before he saw the rhinophores.
Yes! It's another nudibranch (Melibe sp.). Called the 'holy grail' by Chay Hoon and Ria, they said it was last seen in 2006. It interestingly has a hood in front that envelopes everything in the way, hopefully a crustacean for its meal. And it is also as long as your hand (adult's hand of course!)
Not a bad day at all! Neat! Can't wait to return!
More on the trip:
Wonderful Creation, with a special post on seastars