Apr 9, 2008

Tuas with TeamSeagrass

Another bright and early morning today, this time at Tuas with TeamSeagrass volunteers from Schering Plough.

Led by the ever energetic Sheryl, the team got a quick briefing.It was a tad early in the morning, but the team still valiantly gave a hearty hello for the group photo.Meanwhile, I headed off to check out the beacon area, the first time in more than a year. Last year, things were not so good there. But this year, things are very much back to normal!

The coral rubble was covered in all kinds of plants and animals.These included flowery soft corals, hydroids (the stinging kind were also back), and worm-like synaptid sea cucumbers festooned all the slippery ascidians (a kind of colonial animal).
The sea fans were really back in full 'bloom'. Tuas is the only intertidal area where we can see so many different kinds of sea fans.Sea fans are actually animals, although they look like colourful plants.In fact, each sea fan is a colony of many tiny animals called polyps.The polyps are the tiny white things on this orange sea fan. Each polyp looks like a miniature sea anemone, with a long tubular body, topped with tentacles.

The beacon area is also full of hard corals and other spectacular animals.
Yes, I saw a big Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera), the first sighting for Tuas. Although it's not uncommon to see these sea stars near reefs.There are many kinds of hard corals at Tuas.

Hard corals are also colonial animals made up of many tiny polyps. The Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) has polyps with long bodies.
The most common hard coral at Tuas are the Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.)Sheryl reported an increase in sand on the shore. And indeed, sand seems to be covering many of the hard corals like the one above.

Another hard coral I only see commonly on our Northern shores is this boulder shaped Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.) which has tiny petal-like patterns.This is an unidentified hard coral that was also common on Tuas.
The shores near the beacon were covered in this thick, leathery soft coral.Leathery corals are also colonial, with tiny short polyps. Instead of a hard skeleton, they live in a shared leathery tissue.

My first sighting of the Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) for the year! In fact, I haven't seen these anemones since the big flood in early 2007.Other special encounters included a tiny electric blue fishie (which we've seen before elsewhere including Sentosa and Sisters, but still haven't found out its name).And another pretty unidentified fish.But we all know that this is a seahorse (Hippocampus sp.)! We've seen them before at Tuas, so it's nice to see that they are still here. And yes, the seahorse is a fish!Alas, all too soon it was time to go home. On the way back, along the sandy shore, sand stars and sand dollars!Wow, the Tuas shore is indeed flourishing!

Other blog entries about the trip
Other encounters on the teamseagrass blog


Ivan said...

I've always known that the little blue fish is a young damselfish, but I kept forgetting which species it was.

Finally did some snooping, and I think the closest match I can get is Neoglyphidodon oxyodon, or the Bluestreak Damselfish: http://www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=11988

Haven't managed to find a picture that matches the colours of the tiny ones that we see, but I guess the ones on the web are mostly of older and larger individuals.

Now if only we can get confirmation that adults of this species have been spotted in our waters...

ria said...

Hey, thanks Ivan for the ID!

Yes, let's keep looking out for these fishies. The little blue ones are just so cute, although a real pain to shoot as they are so fast and tiny.