Saturday, May 5, 2012

First shore trip: Pulau Subar Laut

Today I had my first taste of shore visit at Pulau Subar Laut, a.k.a. Big Sister Island.
Sisters Island is one of the many southern islands in Singapore. It is next to St. John's Island.
Knowing the tides is very important to shore visit to avoid being stranded in deep waters when the tide comes in. Today's trip had to start as early as 3.30 am.

I was worried that the trip might not be able to take place as it was pouring heavily at that time and lightnings were threatening. Thank goodness, the rain stopped when we boarded the boat but small drizzle came on and off during the trip.

Ria gave me a quick orienteering of Big Sister Island and soon after, we were off to the big lagoon. Upon reaching the shore, the first comment was "Watch out for stonefish." *glup*
I have read about the dangers of stonefish and their sightings on our shores. Throughout the visit, I keep thinking and looking carefully on the shore bed to avoid Mr Stonefish. As a newbie to shore visit, I walked very slowly. (Remember, stonefish!)

My first marine creature encounter is a small octopus. Its width is slightly smaller than the length of my compact camera. The image is quite blur as I was still adjusting to the dark environment and handling lights and camera at the same time.

Giant carpet anemone
I hope this coral is not bleaching. [update: it is bleaching, a bit]
Coral that looks like bleaching

The highlight of this trip for me was to actually find and see the brittle stars personally. The brittle stars are very sensitive to light and fast in movement. Nonetheless, I did manage to capture 2 bottlebrush brittle stars with 1 of their legs holding onto each other.
2 Bottlebrush brittle stars
Next to an anemone, there is a tiny white crab (yellow arrow). The crab is about the size of my finger tip.

In this lagoon, I spotted 2 false scorpionfish [update: they are the true scorpionfish].
This fish belongs to the Family Scorpaenidae.
Scorpionfish 1
Scorpionfish 2
Like every shore, the clicking sounds come from the pistol shrimps "drawing" their pistols. I experienced the loudness of the pistol shrimp with one snapping just to the right of where I was squatting.  It sounded like an empty can being dropped.
Pistol shrimp
Among the seagrasses, I found a leaf slug (Elysia ornata).
Leaf slug, Elysia ornata
I also saw the Red Egg Crab. Unfortunately due to the clumsiness of this newbie it got startled and began its escape. I tried to chase it but the notion of stonefish continues to linger in my mind. In the end this was my best shot. It was this crab that prevented me from taking the left path where Mr Stonefish is nearby. *phew*
Escaping red eye crab
On the high shore, I noticed a snail that looks like a drill feeding on a snail. The eaten snail has drilling holes on it.
Marine animals are so interesting. Even the front entrance to their house needs to be decorated.
Decoration at the entrance
The best way to end the trip is a hermit crab.
Hermit crab
Soon the tide was slowly rising and we ended our trip before sunrise.
Sunrise at the big lagoon
While waiting at the jetty for the boat to arrive, Geraldine noticed coloured layer on mainland Singapore. Ria mentioned that this is pollution. The pollution particles are not dispersing due to the weather.

I will be back at Sisters Island tomorrow for more exciting sightings. Tomorrow, I will be visiting Little Sister.
Hope to get better pictures tomorrow. I did not use my dSLR due to the rain.

[updates: corrected some identifications. there's so much to learn about marine life. the difference is difficult tell]

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