Friday, May 9, 2008

Discovery @ St John's Island on 08 May 2008

Fifty Sixth Discovery Posting

While many others were marveling about the stars on Cryene, a few of us decided to pay a visit to the shores of St John's Island. It has been about six months since I last paid a visit to this shore and it was really memorable as it was here that my last camera went swimming and gone with the waves (it didn't got lost, it drown). Anyway...

First 'discovery' was found as we walked down to the rocky areas of the shore. A Flatworm (picture below), one of my friends commented this looked a bit gross (if my memory serves me correct...haha), what do you think?
Discovery Note:
Flatworms are hermaphrodite, which means a flatworm has both the male and female sex organs.
And certain species of flatworms engage in penis fencing, in which two individuals fight, trying to pierce the skin of the other with their penises; the first to succeed inseminates the other, which must then carry and nourish the eggs.

And if you look carefully on the rocks, you will also be able to spot the onchidium, second 'discovery' (picture below). Can you spot it against the rock?
Discovery Note:
1. They are actually sea slugs, which are molluscs without a shell.
2. They are hard to spot as their skin often match the algae-cover rock, sand and sediment which can get stuck on it also helps to add on to its already great camouflage.
3. They are able to survive out of water as they have lungs which allow them to breathe air.

Another marine creature which you can spot on the rocks is the sea slater (picture below). The third 'discovery'.
Discovery Note:
1. They are sometimes called the sea cockroach due to their appearance.
2. They are not insects, they are actually related to crabs and prawns.
3. They are able to live on the land, as they possess ‘pseudo-lungs’ which helps them to breathe air.

As we walked out nearer to the waters, I spotted the fourth 'discovery', a snapping shrimp (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. One of their pincers is greatly enlarged. Sometimes, the enlarged pincer can be as long as its entire body.
2. The enlarged pincer has one movable ‘finger’ held apart with a catch. When the catch is released, an explosive sound occurs.
3. When colonies of the shrimp snap their claws, the cacophony is so intense that submarines can take advantage of it to hide from sonar.

It seems that it was a morning of flatworms as we saw around five more flatworms. Here are two of them (pictures below).

The sun slowly rised as we continued our exploration around the shore (picture below)St. John's Island is one of our Southern Islands where one can see coral reefs without having to dive and it is just about a 20 minute boat journey from our business district (picture below). Isn't this something you can't really find around the rest of the world and which we can be proud of?

We also saw slugs. Fifth 'discovery' is a leaf slug (picture below)Discovery Note:
1. Leaf slugs feed on seaweeds by poking a hole in them and then suck out the contents within the seaweed.
2. Due to this feeding behaviour, they also suck in the chloroplast, which helps in photosynthesis for plants. This chloroplast then continues to photosynthesis in the leaf slug which in turn provides the leaf slug with extra food. Talk about supplements!
3. Anyway, that’s why leaf slugs are green; it’s due to the presence of chloroplast.

Sixth 'discovery'
was a beautiful copper-banded butterfly fish spotted by HK (picture below).Discovery Note:
They have a large ‘false eye’ on its dorsal fin which fools predators into thinking that it is a big fish.
And if a predator does attacks it, the fish unexpectedly swim ‘backwards’.
Copper-banded butterfly fishes have a long snout with brush-like teeth to suck up coral polyps and small prey from crevices.

What's that someone is taking a photo of??? Let's take a closer look...
Oh my, it's a stone fish (picture below) ! And this is the first time I saw this on our shores, seventh 'discovery'!
Discovery Note:
1. As the name suggests, it looks like a stone when it's not moving.
2. This is because it hunts by ambushing its prey. It remains unmoving until one of its preys swim pass.
3. Stone fishes are known to eat small fishes, shrimps and some other crustaceans.
4. They are one of the most venomous fish in the world.
5. Its dorsal area is lined with spines that release a venomous toxin. This venom can cause severe pain with possible shock, paralysis, and tissue death depending on the depth of the penetration. And it can be fatal to humans if medical attention is not given as soon as possible (usually within an hour or two).
6. In summary, you will have a face like it if you stepped on it's spines. =P

Last but not least, the eighth 'discovery', a feather star (picture below).

Discovery Note:
1. These are Echinoderms, Phylum Enchinodermata, like the sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins to name a few.
2. They belong to the class of Crinoidea and one of the most ancient and 'primitive' of ocean invertebrates, with a family tree rooted in almost 500 million years of history!

Another great morning trip thanks to everyone who came and LK for organising. =)

a) Check out Manta's blog for many other things which we saw.

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