Feb 10, 2008

High and not so dry on Kusu Island

The last low tide for the new moon and lunar new year period and we make yet another escape to the shore, this time to Kusu Island.
Just minutes from the city centre is a living shore full of marine life!

Alas, today the tides were not quite low enough to see the reefs in their full glory. Though we got a glimpse of some corals in the rather murky water.

Including this large Giant anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) wedged in the sea wall.
Unfortunately, no clown anemonefish or anemone shrimps in this one.

It was an opportunity, nevertheless to explore other parts which often get neglected as we focus on the more glamorous reefs.

Here are some of simple but still fascinating creatures of the higher shores.

Marcus found this pretty snapping shrimp, probably Alpheus brevicristatus.
These shrimps have one enlarged pincer than can produce a very loud snap to stun prey and ward off disturbers.

Another crustacean with one enlarged pincer is the fiddler crab. And there were lots of these Porcelain fiddler crabs (Uca annulipes) on the soft mud of the higher shores.
Only the male fiddler crab has one enlarged pincer. The pincer is so large that he can't use it to feed himself. He has one smaller pincer to feed with (you can see the small pincer in the photo on the left). The male waves his pincer about to attract females. Who apparently are quite impressed by this large but useless appendage. Hmm...

Another crab that's often found in silty places is the Sentinel crab (Macrophthalmus sp.), with eyes on VERY long stalks.
The others also found Ghost crabs (Ocypode ceratophthalma) which obligingly posed for them.

Reminiscent of Chek Jawa, there were also peacock anemones.
The soft silty shore of Kusu is one of the few places where we can still see a lot of the Black-lipped conch (Strombus urceus). This snail is quite endearing with its large eyes on stalks.
Conch snails can 'hop' by digging the knife-like tip of their muscular foot and pushing forward.

Another conch is the Gong-gong (Strombus canarium). And here were two up to something, not sure what.Unfortunately, these two kinds of snails are on the list of threatened animals of Singapore due to habitat loss and overcollection.

Another interesting snail is the Olive whelk (Nassarius oliveaceus), a large scavenging whelk that uses its long siphon to 'sniff' out the recently demised.
This one had a tiny anemone hitch-hiker on its shell!

Although we saw lots of healthy Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), none of them had anemone shrimps. This is very odd. Hopefully nothing has happened to them.

But I did see tiny shrimps on a few of these anemones.
Are these juveniles of the anemones shrimps that we usually see?
Here's a closer look at one of them.

The silty shore is also full of gobies. Including this pretty one.
Very nervous creatures, these fan worms are hard to sneak up to.
These pretty animals are actually segmented worms that live in tubes. They have a swirl of feathery tentacles at the top of their heads to gather edible bits.

We had an enthusiastic team of many first timers today. Fortunately, they were not disappointed about the non-performing tide and were quite happy with our finds on the high shore.

We popped by briefly at the shore near the temple. The area is covered with tiny colonial anemones, also known as Zoanthids.
These tiny animals come in a variety of colours and patterns.Alas, while we were there, we came across two large fish traps.One only contained two dead crabs, both the highly poisonous Red egg crab (Atergatis interrigerimus). Another had a large butterflyfish in it that was still alive but the water level was very low in the trap. As we were releasing the fish, someone from the temple came out to try to stop us. We persuaded her to let us release the fish as it was not edible and it would die as the tide moved out.

I always thought temple people were kind to animals. It's quite disturbing to know that they purposely leave out fish traps that needless kill marine life.

More critters seen on these blogs
Sijie shares octopus and strange anemone/peacock anemone on the nature scouter blog
Sam shares corals, mating sea stars, strange fishes, obliging ghost crabs on the ramblings of a peculiar nature blog

No comments: