Jun 2, 2007

Fragrant shores of St. John's

Full moon, stars in the clear sky as we headed out for St. John's.

Chay Hoon and Ron had missed many of our trips there and haven't been for a long while. I didn't know it then, but Tiong Chin was revisiting for the first time in more than a decade!

Even as we approached, we could smell from the boat the powerful fragrance of blooming Tembusu wafting over the water. Dr Chua, however, has a rather more sinister experience with this tree and we recalled again, how several years ago, both of us were nearly killed by a huge branch falling off a Tembusu tree.

Nevertheless, we manfully headed straight out for the tiny reef flat on this rather developed island.The St. John's reef is wonderful because it is tiny yet packed with colourful marine life.

My favourite are the corallimorphs. A kind of sea anemone-like animal that grows in carpets over coral rubble.
One of the characteristics of these animals are their upturned mouths, as if ready to give a kiss!
I've seen at least four different kinds on our shores and they are all present on St. John's. There's one with bumpy tentacles so the entire group looks like a carpet. Another that's brown with ridges. And two others with different kinds of bumps and ruffles on the disk. I still don't really know what they're names are.

I came across a young Long-spined black sea urchin (Diadema setosum). It is identified by the orange ring on the balloon-like thing in the middle (called the anal sac). The white spots are its eye spots. Young ones have banded spines which turn all black as they grow into huge spiky balls.

Dr Chua spotted a large octopus, as well as a pufferfish. The rest also found a feather star! Other finds included a land hermit crab, filefishes, a sting ray and various nudibranchs and flatworms. See the Ron's tidechaser blog and Tiong Chin's mountain and see blog for more photos and stories.

All too soon, dawn broke over the city skyline.
Eventually turning into a scorching morning. Looks like the curse has been lifted off the Evelyn Event!
Wildfilms continued to slog it out in the lagoon. Those are the Sisters Islands in the background, just off St. John's Island.

As the tide ended, Chay Hoon shared her finds. Which invariably are minute! Here is a tiny TINY sea horse. It made all the oldies groan as we strained our backs to try to take a good shot of it. It was really hard to spot it in the first place and we kept 'losing' it.

Another of Chay Hoon's finds was this REALLY tiny nudibranch, the Blue dragon (Pteraeolidia ianthina). It was quite pretty and I guess worth the back pain.

I decided to check out the swimming lagoon. You can see the blooming Tembusu trees near the lifeguard tower in the background, all pale with flowers. As we were departing from the island, we realised ALL the Tembusu trees on the island were blooming, giving a silvery look to the coastal forest there. Alas, no one had their cameras out at the time.

The lagoon was full of tiny snails, little fiddler crabs and small mudskippers. Moon snails were busy hunting just beneath the surface.
and ONE Common sea star (Archaster typicus). Tiong Chin remarked that these stars are no longer common. Sadly, he is right.

On our way off the shore, as I had promised Andy (who couldn't make it was he was doing Pedal Ubin today), I checked for trash on the shore.

Alas, construction workers on the island were still stashing trash into caves and nooks and crannies in the beautiful natural cliffs.
There was trash as well on the upper shore from the construction work. This has been going on since our last visit to St. John's last month. Irresponsible behaviour results in a different kind of smell on the island. Sigh.


mantabuster said...

Smell like shit!

ria said...

Sigh. While I wouldn't put it quite the way you did, it was a bit sad to see all the trash stashed on the shore.