Friday, August 9, 2013

Snakey and Galloping National Day at Semakau

This morning's trip brings us to a corner of Semakau intertidal area less explored. Some of the team members are excited about this trip because of some special animals that was sighted on this shore. One of them is the Galloping seastar (Stellaster equestris).

I have never seen a galloping seastar before and I was not expecting myself to be the one to find the galloping seastar at Semakau this morning, but I did!
Galloping seastar, overview
Shouting "Galloping!" out loud on the shore, many of the team members came from all directions and distances to see this amazing seastar. Kok Sheng was the fastest walker amongst them all as this was what he was looking forward to on this trip.
This is how pretty the galloping seastar is.
Close up
Details on arm
Close up of oral disk
I started of the trip with sighting of 2 False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) on one of the numerous Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea). One of them gave me a short peak before going into hiding in the anemone.
False clown anemone fish peaking at me
Only showing its tail for me
Chay Hoon finds a Masked burrowing crab (Gomeza sp.). The crab is about the size of our thumb and it was very active to make it stay very still to get photos of it.
Gomeza crab, overview
Gomeza crab, underside
Finally, I managed to get two images of the Red ribbon worm before it retracted slowly into its burrow.
There was also a few Upsidedown jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.), some in upright position.
Bell of the jellyfish
Upsidedown jellyfish tentacles
Closer look at the tentacles
The tentacles look very much like the Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.) but they actually look very different.
Fire anemone
White stripes and small dark spots radiating on the oral disk
Tentacles with clusters of oval tips
I also had great snakey encounters with two types of snakes - a Dog-faced watersnake (Cerberus rynchops) and a Banded file snake (Acrochordus granulatus). 

The dog-faced watersnake is mildly venomous but it is a very gentle animal which we were able to get up close with it. 
Dog-faced watersnake
Front profile
Left profile
On the other hand, the Banded file snake is non-venomous and harmless to humans. However, during the trip, I thought it was a sea krait was approaching the snake with great cautions.
Head of Banded file snake
Banded file snake about to check out a burrow.
Tail of Banded file snake
Here is a video of the snake trying to hunt as it seeks burrows to look for food.

As we were about to end our trip, I found a Lined moon snail (Natica lineata).
Lined moon snail, underside
Overview, pretty lines
The team was treated to great sunrise this morning on the shore of Semakau.
Panorama of the shore on Semakau with sunrise
To celebrate Singapore's National Day (today), the team had small handheld flags that we were able to bring it with us to shore easily. I did a series of photographs to capture some of our marine biodiversity on this 48th National Day.
From the Semakau shore
From the Common seastar
From the Tape seagrass
From the Knobbly seastar
(many suggested 5 seastar, but we couldn't find another two to fill the picture)
From the juvenile knobbly seastar
From the Astropecten seastar

Unfortunately, it was not a happy trip thoughout. Ria and Kok Sheng came across driftnets on this trip which entangled many marine animals such as horseshoe crabs, blue-spotted fantail rays, sharks and fish. Read more about the diftnet sighting from Project Driftnet's blog post.

This is one of the shores that I would look forward to visit again.

Read about posts by others on this trip:
Kok Sheng - National Day field trip at Pulau Semakau
Ria - Celebrating National Day at Pulau Semakau

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