Aug 12, 2007

Little Sisters: Fishy surprises

We have neglected Little Sisters Island. Early this morning, we try to make it up with a visit ostensibly to find Condylactis-Not, a key item on Dr Daphne's list.

Little Sister island is...well...little. She also has rather steep shores so she can only be visited at super low tides, which were all taken up by other shores this year. So, this being the last few morning super low tides for the year, we trekked out to make amends.

And wow, she didn't disappoint us!The reef is colourful with all kinds of animals. Here, a yellow branching sponge, a blue encrusting sponge, and a bright red Mosaic crab (Lophozozymus pictor) whose bright pattern warns that it is highly poisonous to eat!

Although the variety of corals is not as stunning as those found on Big Sister, there was a patch of multi-coloured mushroom corals.And I came across two small colonies of Acropora corals (Acropora sp.). One was bright green!What amazed me today, was the abundance and variety of fishes we saw!

These two fishes are sometimes mistaken for scorpionfishes.The rather rotund Toadfish (Family Batrachoididae) on the left; and the False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigeinsis) on the right. It is actually from the grouper family. But they do look prickly and scary.

This big guy, on the other hand, is I think the Real Deal.
It looks like the Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta), but I'm not really sure.

Thankfully, we didn't encounter the Stonefish, although we had in the past.

On the other hand, this marvellous find (by master spotter Chay Hoon, of course) is a Frogfish (Family Antenneridae). The frogfish has a lure (see the pale fluffy thing on a stick in the middle of its face) that it uses to entice unsuspecting prey closer. Whereupon it lunges out to swallow the victim whole! Gulp! I'm not really sure if this is the Spot-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus) in a different colour. We've seen this kind of frogfish on Pulau Semakau, as well as on the Sentosa shore that was recently reclaimed.

Another well camouflaged fish is this Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus).
It is quite commonly seen on our shores, but I usually overlook it. This one seemed particularly colourful, which is probably why I managed to spot it.

Among the many little fishes splashing about were little stick-like halfbeaks.And I only managed one shot of this worm-like fish before it burrowed away under a slab of coral.It seems to be some sort of eel, but I have no idea what it is. I've seen something like this once on Chek Jawa.

There were also small colourful fishes that darted in and out, refusing to have their pictures taken.

This one stayed still for a little while. Could it be a Bengal sergeant (Abudefduf bengalensis)?
I have no idea what this beautiful fish is. It was sheltering in a pool left behind in the outgoing tide.The reefs were also crawling with octopuses.This little guy instantly changed patterns when I flashed him. To a better camouflaged pattern!

Other molluscs seemed to be doing alright. YC found this Spider conch (Lambis lambis).And I checked out the Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) where I saw it last about a year ago. It's still there! And grown so much larger too!
But what about anemones? Alas, we lacked the condylactis-not. We looked and we looked, no joy.

But Kame-Kaze YC does not fail us. He finds some strange little anemones in the sand with a few, very long nearly transparent tentacles. It's amazing how he can find those 'nems. I remember seeing this once at Pulau Hantu too (of course, 'accidentally' taken as background to something else. I just haven't got the bionic eyes that some team members have).We also saw some Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea). One with an anemoneshrimp, but alas, no 'Nemos' or clown anemonefishes. But no Haddon's anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) on the sandy lagoon.I heard the team also found what could be a Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum). And here's the photo, story and more about the trip on the budak blog. Also more on the nearly lucid blog

I also heard when we regrouped that the team saw a red feather star! Wow! Kok Sheng has photos of this wondrous star and other fabulous finds on his wonderful creations blog

On a less happy note, I encountered several Leathery soft corals that looked rather sick.They looked like they were rotting at the edges, and a sort of algae or something brown and icky was growing on the rotting spots.
Here's a closer look of the brown fluff (on the left), and what appears to be a sick spot developing on an otherwise healthy looking leathery coral (on the right). I'm not really sure what is going on.

All kinds of things can happen to our fragile shores, and there's so much we have still yet to understand about them.

Links to other blogs about the trip
budak blog
nearly lucid blog
wonderful creations blog

1 comment:

Liana said...

omg... how do you guys spot those transparent anemones?! snazzy cloaking technology man.