May 31, 2007

Dark Side of the Sisters

3am this morning and a rather perky bunch of beachfleas headed down with wildfilms to the Sisters Islands. As we were leaving, it occurred to us that we haven't been to the Sisters early in the morning. We're not really sure why. This makes the trip even more exciting!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the powerful fragrance of blooming Tembusu! It was a full moon, the water was clear and tide falling fast.

At night, the corals are extra beautiful because many extend their colourful polyps. Sisters has a wide variety of corals which are homes to all kinds of animals.

Among the rather rare Staghorn coral (Acropora sp.) were many small animals!

A little blue-eyed crab, and lots of little clams!

In another lumpy coral was a funny kind of lump...
It was a tiny little octopus! Did it just have dinner on the clam?

Bigger octopuses prowl among the corals, enclosing branching corals or bunches of seaweeds with the skin between their arms to trap any little edible titbits hiding there.

I spotted this little squid by it's shadow! When it realised it was being watched, it turned its round little bum towards me until it drifted away.

On dead coral rubble grow little pink ascidians. And this blue flatworm looks like it was having dinner on one of these pink animals!

The lagoon was full of little fishes.
There were lots of this pretty blue fish (I have no idea what it is, and I'm too sleepy to check it up right now. Will update this later if I find out what it is). Little shrimps also settle on the living corals to forage for edible bits.

More little colourful fishes.

And a poor fish with an injured eye. The other eye seemed OK.

Some fishes were very well camouflaged. I walked right past this flathead without seeing it. Ron spotted it!

Today there were lots of toadfishes too. This little one moved away with a wiggle and quickly settled down to look just like another mucky little stone. James saw a stonefish! We await his blog entry for photos.

I stopped looking down for a moment and saw the moon setting over the hardworking film crew on the shore. Wow! I haven't seen a moon set for a long while.

All too soon, it was sunrise. A lovely dawn over St. John's which lies just across from the Sisters. As I was taking this photo, the long-tail macaques were waking up and busy in the coconut trees above, checking out for edibles, no doubt.

The tide came in and soon it was time for breakfast! (By the way, we always take out ALL our garbage with us back to the mainland. Instead of dumping it in the trashcans on the island. Because the monkeys will get to the trash.)

Budak shares more photos and stories about the adventures on his budak blog with stories about rays and fishes there and things that lurk on the bottom. Ron also shares all his marvellous fins on his tidechaser blog. I'm sure there'll be more blog entries about the encounters the others had.

As the now sleepy bunch headed home, Little Sister glows in the new day.

Singapore certainly has marvelous island gems!

But the most amazing event today was a non-event. Contrary to expectations, the Evelyn Event did not occur! We were sure that whenever Evelyn joins us it would rain. We packed extra ponchos, enclosed the precious DUC in a big plastic bag, and were also getting grumpy with her.

Perhaps the event was just postponed? It did rain later in the day. We'll see if the curse has been lifted when Evelyn joins us again on Saturday for yet another fabulous shore exploration...

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