Sunday, May 6, 2012

Great morning at Pulau Subar Darat (Small Sister's Island)

My second consecutive morning shore trip.
Today we visited the other Sister's Island - Pulau Subar Darat (Small Sister's Island)
Welcome signage
The Sister's Island are not connected. Each of them has their own jetty to alight. Everyone got to work quickly after alighting. A team of 3 slide down the seawall next to the jetty to check out the rocky shore first. The second team, and I, started from the main lagoon. The lagoon at small sister's is different from big sister's. The proportion of sandy area in small sister's is larger than in big sister's.

The first thing I saw while making my way to the end of the lagoon was a sand collar of a moon snail. In each sand collar contains thousands of eggs. The size of the collar hole depends on how big the moon snail mother is.
Sand collar of moon snail
There are many fish swimming around in feet deep waters. I was given a great welcome by these fish as they hit, bang and nibble on my booties. I must say they are quite forceful.
Schools of fish in shallow water
Nearing the end of the lagoon, I spotted something long swimming on the water surface. The light from my torch revealed a sea snake. It was swimming towards me and away in random direction. I was a bit frightened but at the same time, I wanted to take a picture of it. It was a horrible attempt taking picture of it swimming.
First fail attempt
The snake is a baby yellow-lipped sea krait, which I found out towards the end of the trip. After a short swim, it went into a hole underneath a rock. I managed to take a closeup of its body. The sea krait has a paddle-like tail. You can see how its body flattens towards the tail end.
Tail end of sea krait
At the mouth of the lagoon, I saw an anemone fish (Family Pomacentridae ) swimming around a hole. Many people will recognise this as "nemo". The anemone fish we see on our shores are false anemone fish. There was a shrimp next to it but I was not interested it in then. When I edited my photos, I realised that it is the five-spot anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis). Pity. I hope to observe it again so that I can take a proper picture of the shrimp. Right now, I only have the tail portion.
Anemone fish

Amphiprion sp.
Family Pomacentridae
Bottom left:
Five-spot anemone shrimp
Periclimenes brevicarpalis
Family Palaemonida
The anemone fish's side flippers somewhat looks like it is sweeping objects (just like the movie).
I found the anemone to the right of the anemone fish and shrimp. As it was low tide, the tentacles of the anemone was unable to extend out. Perhaps the hole that the fish is swimming by is its "home" during low tide? There's many observations to be made. The anemone is a giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea). Since this anemone here is exposed during low tide, I took a detailed shot of it.
Each tip of the anemone tentacles is neon green.
I also saw the blue coral (Heliopora coerulea), an orange fan worm (Family Sabellidae), leathery corals, a plain frilly sea anemone (Phymanthus sp.)
Blue coral
Heliopora coerulea
Orange fan worm?
Leathery corals?
Plain frilly sea anemone
Phymanthus sp.
Family Phymantidae
By this time, the tide has already started rising slowly. The team that started from the jetty join the rest in the lagoon. Kok Sheng pointed out the sea krait to me at the same location where I later saw it into hiding. That was how I knew it's identification. When I took at look at it for the second time, it came out to take breaths of air. It was a photo opportunity for us.
Yellow-lipped sea krait breathing
As the moon was setting, the whole team noticed how big the moon was. It weekend is the super moon weekend. The moon is "14% bigger and 30% brighter" than the usual size for the year. My expensive camera did not do justice to this "super moon".

I also visited a marine animal's home. However the owner was not at home so I took a look at it's entrance "garden". The "garden" is made up of dead coral fragments and I guess some small stones.
"Garden" entrance
Higher up the shore I saw what seems to look like a sentinel crab (Macrophthamlus sp.). I was also my first time seeing the common sea star (Archaster typicus) in person.
Sentinel crab?
Burrowing common sea star
Common sea stars in mating position
Common sea star with a visible white structure
On dry land, there were a few sandy entrance. Each hole houses a ghost crab (Family Ocypodidae). We found one near its entrance.
Ghost crab
Finally, what a good way to end the trip with a beautiful sunrise with the Sisters' Island in view.
Beautiful sunrise
Sunrise with both Sisters' Island in view
Sunrise view of the lagoon
There  is going to be another exciting trip to a special part of Sentosa.
Who says Singapore shores are boring?

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