We were out again this morning with Dr Lane to search for echinoderms, in particular, a Special Star that was seen two weeks ago.
We saw lots of wonderful stars and stuff (see links to more blog entries of the trip below).
But to me, these are the true stars of our shores!
The valiant volunteers who turned up in force to help in the search. And our hero is Vyna (here, the rose among the thorns) who in the last minutes of the dying low tide, found The Star!
Like paparazzi, everyone crowded around to have a shot at The Star.It was a real squeeze and poor Jerald couldn't get past the huddle.And what's the fuss about?
This!A beautiful jewelled star (Pentaceraster sp.) that resembles our more commonly seen Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus), represented by the small star in the photo. The small Knobbly was unceremoniously tossed aside as everyone focused on The Star.
Why is The Star so special?
Because Dr Lane says it's the first record of it in Singapore!
Unfortunately for The Star, fame means eternal glory in the collection of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. Other interesting observations today: Dr Lane pointed out that the huge bobbly snaptid sea cucumbers that we commonly see among the seagrasses...Have itty bitty crustaceans on them!!They were really tiny and hard to photograph. Amazing!
Dr Lane also explained that not all the big black long-spined sea urchins that we see are necessarily Diadema setosum just because they have an orange ring on the anal cone.He says this one could be Diadema savignyi as it has shorter spines and has blue lines on the body!Jerald also found a Knobbly eating something, and we show it to Dr Lane.Everyone finds all kinds of echinoderms.
Robin found the Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera), Sam found a baby Cushion star (Culcita sp.), Heok found a red feather star which later was found to have a black bristleworm-like thing on it. And probably lots more that I missed out on (check out the links to blog entries below).
And everyone saw lots of Knobbly sea stars of all colours, sizes and knob patterns.
There were also sand dollars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and lots and LOTS of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).
This is quite amazing given the proximity of this submerged reef to the major industrial installations on Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.Right smack next to major shipping lanes with humungous ships like this car-carrying ship passing close by.And just overlooking the container terminals and the city on the mainland.Well back to the stars.
They are unstoppable. All ready for action even before sunrise.Unfazed when told they need to work on a reef that only briefly shows above water during a short window of low tide.And requires an amphibious landing that involves leaping off a tiny boat.The volunteers have strange rituals, such as worship of the GPS Gods.But most importantly, our star volunteers need to eat.
Before the trip.And definitely after that...don't disturb them while they're feeding.Thanks to everyone who came today: Vyna, Andy, November, Marcus, Liana, Sijie, Kok Sheng, Jerald, Sam, Siti, Wei Ling, Robin and Dr Tan Heok Hui. And of course, Dr Lane for sharing so much with us.
More behind-the-scenes efforts: Intrepid volunteers during a TeamSeagrass visit first saw The Star. It was found by none other than our best hunter seeker: Chay Hoon. Marcus brought The Star's discovery to the attention of Dr Lane, and thus sparked off this trip. Kok Sheng also organised the hunt today to ensure there was as complete a search as possible despite the short low tide. And Sijie mobilised support in collection and follow up with the media. Look out for a story about this soon! And all this would not have been possible without the friendly and able support from the Dolphin crew.
Many hands and hearts come together to make discoveries possible.
Links to more blog entries about this trip
- Star studded Cyrene all about the sea stars we saw on Cyrene today on Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog.
- Urchins, sea cucumbers and other creatures of Cyrene Reef on the wonderful creations blog
- Ah! Who can resist the call of Cyrene! tons of sightings and thoughts on Sam's ramblings of a peculiar nature blog
- Super Star of the Echinoderm Hunt - Part II MORE echinoderms on Sijie's nature scouter blog.
- Cyrene: Desert Oasis in the Sea wonderful photos shared on November's leafmonkey blog.
- And the search continues on Vyna's career breaker blog
- MORE photos and stories on Marcus' budak blog on stars and urchins and crustaceans