Aug 29, 2007

Lucky at Changi

For this morning's 'nem hunt, Liana and I decided to have an easy trip and go back to another portion of the neglected Changi shore that I visited yesterday. We also decided we won't bother with the tiny 'nems.

This portion of the shore is much sandier, and we headed straight out to the waterline. There were seagrasses there! Big leafy Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis)!Among the seagrasses, my first sighting of the Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis) for the year! Since the big flood early this year.One was hardly bigger than the seagrass leaf that it was clinging to. Seagrasses are indeed important habitats for our marine life.

In the murky receeding water, we spotted tiny flatfishes. Moon snails ploughed the sand and the shore was teeming with hermit crabs. There was a patch with LOTS of tiny ones.And here and there, were 'queues' of hermits of various sizes. They are probably surrounding a newly empty shell. When one of the hermit crabs finds the new shell to be a good fit, it leaves behind its old shell. This in turn is inspected by smaller hermits who might abandon their old shell for the recently vacated one, and so forth. Kind of like a musical shells situation!

But where are them 'nems? None of the hermit crabs seemed to have any anemones on their shells.

There were fan worms, which can appear to be sea anemones.
But a closer look shows that it has a segmented wormy body topped by a fan of fine feathery tentacles. The worm lives in a tube and it is quite common on Changi.

Aha! Here is a pretty 'nem that I've not seen before.It turned out to be attached to a buried shell. Possibly the shell was previously occupied by a hermit crab?

Shortly after, we came across this large 'nem.It looked pretty easy to examine. But it was very VERY deeply wedged in the mud. Both Liana and I had our arms up the elbows and we still couldn't find the end of it!

We spotted several of these pink polka-dotted sea anemones with a rim of white bumps around the top of the body column.They are quite common and Dr Daphne has been taking a closer look at them already. So we leave them alone.

Then we came across a blob that looked very much like other blobs. But when we peeked under the tentacles, we noticed a bright red body! And taking a closer look, it was totally red right down to its foot!Wow! I've never seen anything like it before.

On the left is what it looked like as a blob in the sand.On the right is what it looks like with its tentacles out. On the surface, it looks quite ordinary and not very different from the second one that we struggled to unearth. Amazing! We must indeed take a much closer look at our common sea anemones.

Red being a lucky colour, I must say we had a very lucky day at Changi!

Of course we informed Dr Daphne about our find and here is her response:

"All I can say is AMAZING!!!

It certainly appears, except for the colour, to be the same as one of the burrowing non-Peachias we got. Internal anatomy will tell. If it is not ...

Some individuals of actinodendrids, some burrowing species of Heteractis, and of Macrodacyla can have a yellow or orange column or, more commonly, splotched with colour.

I am told that could be due to waste products such as guanines, which presumably cannot be oxidized easily in the sediments. But whatever, this is spectacular -- and shows the value of keeping on with sampling.

Glad the weather is treating you well. I guess I am there in spirit with you."

1 comment:

YC said...

woo wooo! nice catch both of you!!!