Jul 31, 2007

More Sea Anemones of Changi

We're back again with the Anemone Team on a different stretch of Changi to check out the sea anemones that live in softer ground.

And what wondrous anemones there were! At first glance, they seemed alike. But Dr Daphne points out the differences and a closer look reveals their delicate beauty.

We saw lots of these sea anemones with a pair of maroon dots near the mouth. These are the largest of the sea anemones found on the soft shores of Changi.

And also lots of these sea anemones with a pattern of radiating lines from the mouth and white bars on the tentacles.These are not as large and can be quite small (about 2-3cm across).

Very similar to the previous is another sea anemone with white bars AND dark parallel lines along the tentacles and without the radiating lines around the mouth.These are also common, and not very large.

The anemones all look very different inside and underneath. Dr Daphne will take a closer look and figure out what they really are.

Throughout our trips, Dr Daphne has been trying to match our observations with a much earlier work done on Singapore's sea anemones. It's a hard job as many of our shores have changed since then. On Changi, there has been repeated 'beach improvement', which wiped out the biodiversity. It's nice that life has returned but still, a pity that we keep losing it every time someone feels Singaporeans should have white sand instead of mucky soft silt, which the animals prefer.

We were constantly misled throughout the trip, by the feeding tentacles of the buried Ball sea cucumber (Phyllophorus sp.)This fat rotund animal lies completely buried and only sticks out its feathery tentacles to feed. It was really nice to see so many of them on Changi as there were mass deaths of these animals on Chek Jawa during the massive flooding earlier this year.

We were not as easily confused by the Peacock anemones (Order Ceriantharia) which were very numerous on this stretch of Changi.The inner ring of shorter tentacles easily distinguish these from true sea anemones. But it's sometimes hard to see this in murky waters, so there were a few false alarms.

We trudged slowly to the seawall where MORE surprises were in store. I never really took a close look at the brown blobs that cling so tenaciously to the cracks, crevices and surfaces of the wall.

Dr Daphne, however, shows us just how nice they really are.

Here is a bigger one, with banded tentacles and a nice pattern around the mouth.And there were lots of tiny ones with an entirely different pattern.
Again, she'll have to take a closer look to figure out what they are.

Changi was very much alive this full-moon morning. There were several large and busy sand stars (Astropecten sp.)
The soft shore was also literally crawling with lots of brittle stars!This particular kind seems to purposely turn upside down, showing its pink parts. We don't really know why.

There are not many hard areas on this shore, so a little stone is hot property for snails in serious need of egg-laying locations. These melogena snails were really hard at work laying circles of yellow egg capsules.
Another encounter with a pair of Moon crabs that look like they are about to mate. I forgot to ask Swee Hee about it as he was far away. But must really find out more about this as I've seen it so often and haven't a clue of what's going on.
At a more grassy area, I came across this cuttlefish! It was holding up a pair of its arms, not sure why. It pulsed through a series of pattern changes before gliding off into the murk.
Changi is indeed special and rich with all kinds of marine life. And more so when we take the time and effort to look closely.

Tomorrow, ANOTHER trip, this time to my favourite Southern Island. I'm sure we'll find lots of interesting sea anemones and learn more about them from Dr Daphne.


YC said...

i asked swee hee about it and he's not sure, but believes that it probly is mating, since these guys arent known to be cannibals, and ive seen this quite alot of times too. but gosh just look at the size disparity between the two! looks like a more extreme case of sexual conflict but i cant really be sure.

ria said...

Thanks YC. It is quite intriguing. I tried to ask Swee Hee too, today, but alas, too many other things to do.

Well, perhaps one day we can do a crab thing with him and he can tell us all the stories.