May 5, 2007

Spectacular Kusu Island

The early morning tides have started and wildfilms and beachfleas were out for the first dawn on Kusu in a long long while. And what a spectacular sunrise it was!Kusu Island's fabulous living reefs overlook the city centre, just a 15-minute boat ride away.
(I still can't get used to the rather hideous flyer in the city skyline...sigh)

For the last week, it had rained nearly every morning. So we were lucky to enjoy such a glorious sunrise. Robert had the best seat in the house: he's the tiny speck on the right on top of the sea wall.
In the pink light of the new day, we explored this marvellous shore.

Kusu Island is one of the few shores in Singapore where we can see so many different kinds of sea anemones.
Clockwise from top left: There are several large Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica), so appropriately named. The colourful Merten's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii) are also found in large numbers. These two anemones usually host clown anemonefishes. But we searched every anemone and failed to find any. This is quite disturbing. There were also several carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.) which are commonly seen on Chek Jawa. Unlike at Chek Jawa, however, anemone shrimps are commonly seen in Kusu's carpet anemones. There was also this one single odd looking sea anemone that was left rather high and dry as the tide went out. I don't know what it and have not seen anything like it before.

The swimming lagoon of Kusu Island is thick with hard corals!

Besides the usual Favid corals...There were also Anemone hard corals (Goniopora sp.) and Brain corals (Family Mussidae)The always delightful Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.)
A Montipora sp. with pinkish tips.Rarely seen elsewhere, Kusu has some Crispy crust corals (Merulina sp.)and Lettuce hard corals (Pectinia sp.)And there was this large clump of something I've not seen before.Kusu is also fascinating because the swimming lagoon also has a rich sandy shore. You have to look carefully or you might miss the tiny sand crabs: the Sand bubbler crab (Scopimera sp.) on the left, and the Soldier crab (Dotilla sp.) on the right.
There are also lots of Orange fiddler crabs in the higher shore (Uca vocans). Helen found a pair that was mating! What a shameless pair. I thought they usually do it in the privacy of their burrows.The sandy shore also has lots of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus), and they were ALL paired into mating position this morning. I also spotted some tiny sand dollars.

If you look carefully, you might also see colourful little fanworms.Chay Hoon spotted this Sea moth (Pegasus volitans)! Previously, I've only seen this on our Northern shores.
Helen also found a sweetlips, and Andy spotted a ball of thousands of tiny eel-tail catfishes.

For me the Find of the Day was the sea cucumber that Chay Hoon found.From Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore", it is possibly Bohadschia vitiensis. According to him, it tends to hide in the sand during the day and only comes out at dusk. It ejects sticky defensive tubules (called Cuvierian tubules) from its backside when it is disturbed. Apparently, it is among the sea cucumbers harvested for food.

A much more poetic account of our Kusu adventures, and stunning photos of curious finds on the budak blog

Kusu Island is a splendid shore to visit! Suitable for kids and others visiting the shores for the first time.

If you'd like to visit, join the Blue Water Volunteers' reefwalks for the public. The next trip is on 20 May 07 (Sun). More on the Blue Water Volunteers website.

Today, I thought I should catch up with special shots needed for the guidebook. Namely the underside of common snails. I usually take a few snails and wait for them to crawl up the sides of specially built tanks so that I can shoot them through the glass. While I was distracted with breakfast, this feisty little houdini nearly made a quick getaway from the tank!
What a fabulous day out at Kusu. Of course, we nearly didn't make it because of my boo-boo and mixup of piers. Everyone was waiting at one pier while the wildfilms crew and I were wondering and waiting at another. Sorry everyone! And thanks to Andy for ferrying everyone to the right pier. Glad that we finally made it after all.

2 comments:

janet said...

I chanced upon your blog because my friend is holding her kids' party at Kusu Island. Then I saw these beautiful pictures of marine life that you took! Hey I didn't even know they existed & I think it's so marvellous seeing these tiny wonderful delicate creatures! I have been there twice during my school days & only thought people go to Kusu Island to pray at the temple & take photos with the turtle statues! Because of your blog & pics, I will go there again, this time with my young kids (cuz 12 years has passed since my last visit!) & try to spot them myself, hee hee! Keep up your good work, guys n gals! ^_^

ria said...

Thanks Janet for the encouraging comment!

You might want to go on a reefwalk with the Blue Water Volunteers, a guided walk of the intertidal for families at Kusu Island during low tide.

More about this and Kusu Island
http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/kusu.htm

The wildfilms blog is closed. But I still blog about my shore trips on http://wildshores.blogspot.com/

Hope you have a great time exploring our many wonderful shores!