Jul 5, 2008

BB specials

4am and we're off to BB. This marvelous shore has made some recovery from the flood of 2007 and the team saw lots of special finds thanks to many keen eyes. I'm too slack to post about them all and shall leave it to the rest of the team to post...heh heh.

Here's some of the finds I thought was special.

BB is the only place where I've seen these ball-shaped soft corals in numbers. (They are possibly members of Family Nephtheidae). They used to be plentiful before the flood, then disappeared, but today have made a fully recovery with lots of large colonies, some 30cm across or more!
Each ball is a colony of many tiny polyps which have tiny branched tentacles. The polyps lie at the tips of thick fat short branches.This is what a colony looks like when it is submerged.The cavities formed by the branches of the colony form a snug home for white snapping shrimps! There's usually a pair of these shrimps in each colony. Here's one swimming about in the submerged part of the soft coral. Here's a closer look at a snapping shrimp that was on the outside of the soft coral.The shrimps are often peeking out when the soft coral colony is collapsed out of water. But the shrimps are so well camouflaged that it's hard to spot them. Can you see the two shrimps in the photo above?Well, I didn't either until I got home and processed the photo!!For some reason, I saw a tiny Kite butterfly fish (Parachaetodon ocellatus) near two of these soft coral colonies. Under the colonies other small animals also find shelter such as little crabs and fishes, and the ordinary burrowing snapping shrimps. So these soft corals appear to have an important role on this shore.

Other first time encounters for me included this pretty snapping shrimp that is very different from the usual ones that I see on our other shores.It has a really handsome tail and white bands on a slim body. I have no idea what it is.

I also came across this really odd creature with really scary-looking tentacles that appeared to be studded with stingers .As I was observing it, it suddenly contracted.It seemed to have caught a little fish. It does seem to be a sea anemone. But what an odd-looking tentacle structure!

There were also several strange peacock anemone-like animals that I've not seen elsewhere. Peacock anemones (Order Ceriantharia) have two rings of tentacles, an outer ring of very long ones, and an inner ring of short ones.
Here's one that doesn't look like anything I've seen before, with a ring of very short inner tentacles.And another one also with an inner ring of very short tentacles, holding two of its outer tentacles upwards. What strange behaviour.

Lots of other amazing creatures were seen today. Joe Lai saw a moray eel, nudibranchs and other critters, Dr Chua found seahorses, November spotted lots of sea urchins, sea stars and other critters, Chay Hoon of course got us lots of slugs, Sam found a special sea star! There were stars in abundance, octopus, special snails and more!

Let's read all about these on the blogs by the other team members!

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