Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Special shrimp and parchment worm at Changi

What a pretty shrimp found on a Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). According to Marcus Ng, it is Ancyclomenes holthuisi.
Ancyclomenes holthuisi
This shrimp was found on the very last carpet anemone that I was checking on for the usual Five-spot anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) today at Changi Beach. Even Ria was intrigued by this special shrimp.
The shrimp presented to us an interesting behaviour - "hip shaking". Here is a video of the shrimp's behaviour.

Ria has named it the Gelek shrimp. Gelek refers to the walking manner by swiveling the hips so as to attract the opposite sex, in Malay. I prefer to call it Sexy shrimp.

On the sad note, I only managed to find one Five-spot anemone shrimp amongst the many carpet anemones that I visited this morning.

If you observe the substrate long enough, there are actually tube like structures lying on the fine sand ground. These are actually tubes belonging to the Solitary tubeworm (Diopatra sp.). Many times the worm does not show itself. Sometimes I can only see its sensory tentacles sticking out.
Sensory tentacles visible only.
Sometimes, I get to see a bit more of the worm.
Head of the Solitary tubeworm with feathery appendages.
Nearby there are some Cerianthid phoronid worm (Phoronis australis) in black,
Phoronid worm, black
and in white.
Phoronid worm, white
Today, I was very lucky enough to see the head of a Parchment worm (Chaetopteridae) sticking out of its tube TWICE! It is the weirdest worm I have ever seen and it looks like some alien.
Retracting back slowly
Another parchment worm
The two photos above are actually showing the head of the parchment worm. I thought the spiny sides were its legs. A complete specimen of the Parchment worm was collected during last year's Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (CMBS) Northern Expedition. Here is an image of the whole worm specimen.
[Image from CMBS Northern Expedition 2012 on Facebook]
Online, I managed to find a YouTube video of the Parchment worm.

This is not a feathery worm but a buried sea cucumber with its feeding tentacles extended above the sand.
Feeding tentacles of sea cucumber
How about a view of what the Fan clam looks like inside.
Fan clam
Actually, the so called juicy scallops are actually the adductor muscle of the fan calm. The adductor muscle of the actual scallop is rather small and thin.

There was a very cute Sponge crab, who refused to let go of the Cerianthid it was grabing onto. The frontal view looks like the crab is feeling sad.
Sponge crab, grabbing tightly onto the cerianthid.
Sad looking face from the front.
After the recent TeamSeagrass training sessions, I am rather please to say that I getting more comfortable with seagrasses. Today I took a look at the lush Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) patch on the shore and there were rhizomes sticking out with new grass sprouting. So happy. Here is how the new leaves of the spoon seagrass looks like.
Spoon seagrass, new leaf on the right.
New leaf spouting from the rhizome.
 On the down note, this stretch of shore at Changi Beach is heavily covered with coastal litters from local beach goers and floated in from elsewhere. There were plastic packages of all sort of items from food to household products and fishing hooks, baits, weights and lines. The poor marine animals have on that shore have to live in such environment filled with trash.
Thumbs-up sea squirt attached to a long discarded mineral water cup.
Pink warty sea cucumber seen amongst some trash and under plastic packaging.
Fishermen too have to be responsible in their fishing activities. Many time, marine animals unfamiliar to humans gets caught in the fishing line or fishing hooks get dislodged, and are left to a slow death on the high shores. Some may return to the waters but with the hook attached to them and a short fishing line accompanying it, just waiting for the hook to rust and probably killing them eventually.

An example would be this Spiky sea pen (Pteroeides sp.) with the visible rust marks after I removed the rusty fish hook with short fishing line. (I forgot to take a photo of the sea pen with the hook on.)
Spiky sea pen with two hole and rusting fish hook marks.
I hope the sea pen will survive. I found a tiny Painted porcelain crab (Porcellanella picta) in the hooked sea pen. Not sure what happens to the porcelain crab when the sea pen dies.
Painted porcelain crab
It was a good trip today though the critter finds is a bit disappointing. At least the special shrimp brought new excitement towards the end of the trip.

Tomorrow will be my last fieldtrip for this week before all the school work meetings and reopening of school term. I am visiting a coral garden tomorrow!

Post by others on this trip:
Ria - New finds at Changi

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Surprises at East Coast

There were at least 5 Basket stars spotted on pretty Sea fans on the shore along East Coast Park beach this morning.
Basket star on pink sea fan.
If you think that the beach along East Coast Park is plain and just full of sand, perhaps this blog post might change your perspective.
The shore at East Coast Park is not a natural shore. It is a reclaimed shore. After many years of settling, many parts of the beach is hidden with marine life. With the lowest possible tide for the whole year at -0.2, the team check out the pillars of Bedok Jetty and the lagoon outside National Sailing Club. This is my first time checking out the shores of East Coast.

Even on a stretch of the beach badly covered with litter and marine debris, a Horn-eyed ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus) surprises us well hidden on the shore with a winking eye.
Horn-eyed ghost crab
The pillars of Bedok Jetty is very much full of life with all sort of marine animals.
Each of the sea fans we saw were covered with pretty Basket stars, such as this on which is pink. This is actually my first time seeing a live Basket star on our intertidal trips.
Pink basket star on white sea fan.
Closer look at the pink basket star.
Complete basket star
Underside of the basket star
Close up on the underside, showing the mouth
There were also pretty Brittle stars found individually, on sea fan and on Feather star.
Can you spot the brittle star on the sea fan?
Brittle star, individual
Close up of central disk
Brittle star on feather star
Mei Lin spotted a Ovulid or False cowrie snail on one of the sea fan. These snails have matching shell colour of the sea fan they are on.
Orange ovulid on orange sea fan
Along one side of the pillar, I spotted a Kanga hypselodoris nudibranch (Hypselodoris kanga). It has pretty coloured spots on its body and triangular cross-section on its gills.
Hypselodoris kanga
Closeup of its gills
We then drove down to East Coast Park Area G, where National Sailing Centre. The lagoon took everyone by surprise. I was told that this shore was totally wipeout in Aug 2008 from Kok Sheng. After 5 years of absent monitoring, Kok Sheng suggested checking out this place.
The lagoon has recovered rather well with good patches of seagrass, mainly Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) and Needle seagrass (Halodule uninervis).
Spoon seagrass
Samples of each seagrass species is collected for herbarium press specimen for record. It gives me a chance to practice what I have learnt during the recent TeamSeagrass trainings done by Seagrass-Watch .

The Eight-armed sea star (Luidia maculata) looks like they were out having a party. However the ones we saw are of six arms. By the way, it is Kok Sheng's birthday today. I think the sea stars are having a birthday party for him.
Eight-armed sea star
There were also Painted sand star (Astopecten sp.), Luidia sand star (Luidia sp.) and a Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera) seen on the shore.
Painted sand star
Luidia sand star
Cake sea star
There were a number of Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) on the shore and one of them had a brittle star on it.
Brittle star on Haddon's carpet anemone
The snails seen include Ball moon snail (Polinices didyma), Fig snails (Ficus variegata), Weasel olive snail (Oliva mustelina) and Miliaris cowries (Cypraea miliaris).
Ball moon snail
Fig snails
Weasel olive snail
Miliaris cowrie
I hope this has somewhat changed your perspective of East Coast Park Beach. Though reclaimed shore, it is still very much fill with interesting marine life.

Post by others on this trip:
Kok Sheng - Birthday Bash at shores of East Coast
Ria - East Coast Surprise: Lots of seagrasses!  and  East Coast Surprise: Reefy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

For a great laughter - Marine animals in the haze.

As we found 6 Masked burrowing crabs (Gomeza sp.) this morning, one of us made a simple joke about the current haze situation in Singapore with the crabs.

Later in the afternoon Kok Sheng came up with an image for laughter:

I decided to create a few...

Enjoy the laugh!

Masked Burrowing Crab and Special Snail at sandy Changi

A female Masked burrowing crab (Gomeza sp.) with eggs was found at Changi during the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Surevy (CMBS) Northern Expedition held last October. This special crab was sighted today at the exact location. In fact, the team found 6 of them!
Masked burrowing crab
As the common name suggests, the Masked burrowing crab burrows and stay in the sand. It is difficult to spot the crab when it is burrowed. However the crabs were out in laying motionless on the sand and seagrass patches. What was the reason for this strange behaviour?

Underside of the crab
There were other crabs sighted such as the plentiful swimming crabs in various sizes,  the Leaf porter crab and the Moon crab (Ashtoret lunaris).
Leaf porter crab
Moon crab, burrowed
Moon crab exposed out on sand.
I am still struggling to get a good exposure of the Moon crab with the sand. May times where I have taken the image of the Moon crab, the exposure seems to be thrown off on either the crab or the sand. More experience required on this.

With the news about the supermoon occuring last night, it seems to bring out many of the "moon" marine animals out of hiding. First there was the Moon crab. Then there was quite a number of Ball moon snail (Polinices didyma) out today, probably on hungry mode. These Ball moon snail do move fast.
Moon snail out on the sand, moving.
Partially burrowed
Moving around on the seagrass patch.
The other "moon" animal would be the Pink moon snail (Natica zonalis). However this fella was not very corporative and refuses to come out fully from its shell.
Pink moon snail, underside
Pink moon snail, overview.
That's all it showed me.
The many little shallow pools formed on the seagrass patch kept many small fish under protection.
I saw a few types of fish on this trip.
Smallhead dragonet (Callionymus erythraeus)
False scorpionfish (Centrgenys vaigiensis)
Kite butterflyfish (Parachaetodon ocellatus)
Commerson's solefish (Synaptura commersonnii), head.
Commerson's solefish, tail
Seagrass pipefish
It seems like that the sand stars (Astropecten sp.) are having an awesome party on Changi shore this morning. There were moving about everywhere and in various positions. There was only one Painted sand star. The rest of the sand stars seen are the Plain sand stars.
Painted sand star
Plain sand star
Plain sand star, Sky diving leap position
Plain sand star, dancing position
Plain sand star, relax on algae position
Plain sand star, basic back flip position
Plain sand star, ultimate sand star bend - 180 degrees backwards
Along the way, we spotted a Baler volute (Melo melo). Unfortunately, the actual animal is no longer residing the shell. Instead a Big-head seagrass octopus has taken over the empty shell with its entrance filled with broken clam shells. Mei Lin thinks that it is possible that the octopus could have killed the snail and taken over the shell has a form of shelter. As I checked out the octopus, it came out briefly to have a quick stretch of its arms. Here's the flow of images of the octopus.

Though disappointed with no Melo melo sighting, I was able to see 2 Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis).
Noble volute
A Weasel olive snail (Oliva mustelina) was kind enough to crawl on the sand long enough for some of us to take photos of it before it starts burrowing into the sand.
Weasel olive snail on sand
Weasel olive snail burrowing
Then I sighted 2 Glass anemones (Dofleinia sp.). Having encountered this anemone before has equipped me with knowledge that I should avoid contact with this anemone. The anemone has transparent tentacles and oral disk covered with tiny bumps and the animal wil inflict a rather painful and annoying sting when in contact.
Glass anemone
Tiny bumps on the tentacles.
Another special find for this trip would be a new snail sighting. I heard that a paper on this special snail is going to be published soon.
Overview of the snail
Right side profile of snail
Underside of snail
Lastly, a Semper's armina nudibranch.
Armina nudibranch
This stretch of shore at Changi is simply amazing. Ever visit brings special finds.

Posts by others on this trip:
Kok Sheng - Lots of masked burrowing crabs at Changi
Mei Lin - Hazy woes - Changi 24062013
Ria Tan - Gomeza Bonanza at Changi


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