Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stunning sunset with critters of St. John's Island

While exploring the shores of St. John's Island, everyone suddenly paused at where they were and started admiring the beautiful sunset, bidding goodbye to the second day of the lunar new year.
Sunset at St. John's Island
We were lucky to be on the outer edge of the water snake that visited from the northeastern side and turned in the clockwise direction on the boundary of mainland Singapore. At the beginning part of the trip, we experienced mild drizzle.
It was not longer after I started explore when I saw my first critter - a reef bristleworm (Eurythoe complanata). It looked like it was out hunting for food.
Head of the reef bristleworm
On a colony of blue coral (Heliopora coerulea), there were many tiny crabs coming out to feed. The crabs looked similar to the smooth spooner crab (Etisus laevimanus), but of much smaller size. They were out feeding on the surface of the blue coral.
Blue coral
Tiny crab 1
Tiny crab 2
Somewhere near the blue coral, I took a photo of this.

This is actually a fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.). I thought it was a species of soft flowery coral on shore and when I was editing the photo. It was Kok Sheng who surfaced that it could be the fire anemone after looking at the white stripes with spots at the bottom of the photo and oval shaped tip tentacles. Luckily for me as I did not try to touch it on shore. The fire anemone causes a nasty sting when touched. Phew and WOW!

There were many gobies in the shallow water and they were kind enough to stay still for me to take a photo of them. They are not easy to spot sometimes as they blend very well with the colour of the sand, thus making it difficult to shoot them.
Goby 1
Goby 2
Goby 3
Tse-Lynn brought her son, Ethan, to visit the shore with us today and he helped to find a pair of platydoris nudibranch (Platydoris scabra). As mention by Ethan, the platydoris nudibranch has a fine rough surface.
Platydoris scabra - Dorsal view
Close up of rhinophores
Close up of feathery gills
Trying to flip back, showing the tiny oral tentacles
Underside view
Here's a video of the platydoris nudibranch moving.

Ria found another type of nudibranch just as she was flipping a rock, the spotted foot nudibranch (Discodoris lilacina). I found it tricky to shoot this nudibranch as it colour patterns is very close to the sandy area.
Dorsal view,  rhinophore on the left.
Underside view
Ria also found the starry mouthed nudibranch (Bornella stellifer) while she was exploring the lagoon.
Head-on view
Dorsal view
Side view
Moving on to the lagoon, the horn-eyed ghost crabs (Ocypode ceratophthalmus) are out hunting and enjoying their crabby meals. I saw two ghost crabs feeding on crab. One was feeding on a swimming crab and the second was feeding on a moon crab and it left bits of the pincer and arms on the shore.
Feeding on swimming crab
Feeding on moon crab
Broken remains of the moon crab on the shore near the ghost crab.
Here is a video of the second ghost crab feeding on the moon crab.

This trip was my first time seeing two snapping shrimp coming out of their borrow. Are they a mating pair? 
Usually we see only one actively beautifying its burrow entrance with a goby outside. However on this trip, I actually saw two of them coming out from the same hole. How interesting. One of the snapping shrimp when back into the burrow when it sensed my presence while the other stayed out a little longer. Both are ornamented snapping shrimp (Alpheus sp.)
Two snapping shrimp from the same hole
The smaller snapping shrimp outside the hole
In the patch of seagrass in the lagoon, Kok Sheng spotted a pipefish.
Head shot of the pipefish
Ending off this post, here is a panorama shot of the beautiful evening sunset at St. John's Island, with the reef in the foreground.

Posts by others on this trip:
Mei Lin - Psychedelic Nature
Kok Sheng - CNY Day 2: St John's Island
Ria Tan - Surprises at St. John's Island

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