Jul 13, 2007

Any mone?

In preparation for the visit of world anemone expert Daphne Fautin, a lean and rather mean wildfilms team checked out TWO Changi shores early this morning.

With only one thought in mind: Any anemones?

We started on the first shore at 3am. It had 5 of what I call Tiger anemones because of their handsome banded pattern. And they do look very perky.
The Tiger anemone has a pair of maroon spots on the oral disk (fancy word for broad centre part of the anemone). The body column has little bumps with red spots. With the tentacles tucked into the body, the anemone looks a bit like a strawberry!
There were some tiny carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.) as well as one of what I think is Peachia sp.The Tiger and Peachia anemones we've only seen lots of on Changi and sometimes on Pulau Sekudu. Not as often on Chek Jawa. So much to learn about our sea anemones!

As you can tell, we don't know the names of many of our common sea anemones. Which is why we are very excited by Daphne Fautin's upcoming visit.

At 4am, my handphone alarms beeps and we trudge off to the second shore before the low tide is over. This shore is VERY soft, but has lots more sea anemones.

There's a bit of a rocky shore there, so there were some Banded bead anemones (Epiactis sp.)
And some small what might be Peachia sp. as well.As well as several Tiger anemones with their tentacles tucked up in their body columns.
And what I call the Chevron anemone because of its pretty chevron pattern. The one I saw was tucked up, and the photo on the right was taken a long time ago, showing its pretty pattern on very few arms. I seldom see this anemone, and usually only on Changi.The seagrass area had lots of little baby carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.), some no bigger than a 10cent coin. The one on the right has the typical long-short tentacles on the edge that suggests it might be Stichodactyla haddoni.
There were also several small and large swimming anemones of the Family Boloceroididae.Both shores had LOTS of peacock anemones of all colours. Alas, these are not true anemones. True sea anemones belong to Order Actiniaria, while peacock anemones belong to Order Ceriantharia. "Then WHY are they called anemones?!" Chay Hoon asks in surprise. Sigh. This is the problem with common names.There's also stuff we see that may be confused for sea anemones. The photo on the left is the feeding tentacles of the buried Ball sea cucumber. The photo on the right is a pair of Hairy sea hares (I think they were just cuddling and weren't doin' it...yet?)
We had lots of other exciting sightings too! As soon as we arrived, there was a splashy scuffle and I just (as usual) shoot first before figuring out what it was.
And it was a tiny mantis shrimp! Hardly bigger than a seagrass leaf, it had caught an eeltail catfish! It quickly squirmed away among the seaweeds with its catch.

On the first shore, I also saw a sea cucumber that I've never seen before. (Another ID puzzle for my friend Robin who answered my prayers and offered help to get these squishy animals identified). Trudging knee-deep on the very soft ground of the second shore, I saw an octopus that had something all wrapped up in its arms. Hmmm, I thought, feeding? Probably startled by my wobbling around as I tried not to fall face first into the mud, the octopus revealed its 'catch'. It was a very pale looking octopus! A girlfriend? Or breakfast?

Shortly, it decided not to go ahead with whatever it wanted to do with the other octopus and slithered away on eight stretchy arms.Wandering in the dark, we suddenly came across the most humungous jellyfish I ever saw! That's Chay Hoon's foot in the left of the photo.
Here's more of an idea of just how large the animal was. It was just too big to move so we had to leave it stranded there. Anyway, it was dark and the tide would come in soon. Hopefully it might survive.
We were delighted to see that sponges were growing back on the big boulders on the second shore. Because nudibranchs eat sponges! (Many of the sponges on the Northern shores were wiped out in the big flood that lead to mass deaths on Chek Jawa, among others).We had a look, and almost missed this huge nudibranch (Atagema spongiosa). It looks just like a bit of rubble. We often see this animal in soft silty areas.
It was upside down when we first saw it. The photo on the right shows the tiny rhinophores on this rather fugly nudi.
There was also a black Atagema intecta, which Chay Hoon completely missed because it was BIGGER than 1cm. Yes, she must indeed recalibrate those eagle eyes.Other sightings included some Geographic sea hares, some black short-spined sea urchins (Temnopleureus sp.), several sand stars (Astropecten sp.), some large brittlestars.

Alas, even though it was REALLY early in the morning, we came across large areas which had been dug up. Among the mayhem were chopped up sea pens, ball sea cucumbers and other injured animals that usually lie buried or half buried in the sand.About 5-10 square metres of shore was affected. Probably by fishermen looking for worms. In one of the holes left behind, I saw a part of a chopped up worm that was still very much alive.I think the worm is quite pretty, with feathery things on the sides that help it breathe, and an iridescent body.

As we walked back, we saw some worms discarded on the high shore. It breaks my heart. All that area dug up, and animals injured, for a few worms that in the end might just be dumped.

1 comment:

Sivasothi said...

The damage to Changi s heart-breaking. Our tiny patches of shoreline left need protection, they are too small for multiple use as in the past.