Sunday, January 3, 2010

Starry Starry Semakau on 2nd Jan 2010

110th Discovery Posting:

It was another day out at Semakau. Most of the group went to explore the normal route with their friends, LK was off to locate some rare plants, while a small group of us had one main objective in mind: that was to find the galloping sand star spotted last time.

We were not disappointed as I managed to spot one not long after I started combing the area which I last saw one. Our first 'discovery' (picture below).
As mentioned below, this galloping sand star is special not only because it can move by jerking or leaping (we didn't really saw this occurring because we did not had the luxury of time to observe it for long). It is also special because previous specimens has only been found through dredging. Thus plus this time, it is only the second time that anyone in Singapore has seen/recorded (according to what I know) it in an inter-tidal area.

As we walked around, we came across numerous upside down jellies, here's one of them, our second 'discovery' (picture below).Upside down jellies are upside down because of the fact that it harbours algae in its body and by being upside down, the algae will be able to do photosynthesis. So what's the big deal? The deal here is that, the algae will share any extra food to the jelly while the jelly provides a home for the algae. Basically what I call a "you scratch my back, I scratch your back" relationship. =D

Our great luck continued as Marcus soon spotted another galloping sand star (picture below). Both of the galloping sand stars we saw didn't look in great condition. Hopefully they will recover and be healthy again when we see them again.

It was really a great day out as we also came across 3 sea cucumbers which were never-seen-before in Semakau, I decided against posting the photos of them on this posting as R had better photos of them. I'll provide the link to his posting at the end of this posting so all interested discoverers can take a look at them =D
Moving around the area, we also came across a few hell fire anemones, here's one of them, our third 'discovery' (picture below).They are named hell fire anemones because of the fact that your hand will feel as if it's on fire if your hand comes into contact with it. I don't have any personal experience to back this up. But on a second thought, I don't think it's an experience I would want to have if possible...haha

The last time when I was around the same area, I came across a number of bigfin reef squids around the area. So I decided to try my luck again and I was not disappointed. Here's two of them, fourth 'discovery' (picture below) It has been said that squids are probably the fastest moving aquatic invertebrates with some reaching up to 40km/h but the ones we saw were quite still. Maybe it was their break time? haha

Some people like me tend to mix up squids and cuttlefishes, so one good way to tell them apart is to look out for fin. An all round fin is a cuttlefish while the squid's fin is a triangular flap at the tip of the body which acts as stabilisers.

To read more about them, you can go to

This trip just seems to get better as the night approached. I say this because I spotted a total of 20 plus knobbly sea stars as I walked around (picture below). Basically, I spotted one for average every five steps I took. Wow.

To top it all up, the evil knobbly, Pentaceraster mammilatus, came into view as I changed direction to head back. Woohoo! Fifth 'discovery'! A Pentaceraster was last seen on Semakau about a year ago, so it's great to discover another one on Semakau. =D

This trip surely lines up as one of the top trips I had on Semakau and it was all with great weather and company!

Read for the 3 sea cucumbers which are new records for Semakau.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pulau Hantu on New Year's Day 2010

109th Discovery Posting:

Today (now: yesterday) is (now: was) the first day of 2010 and I was out on an inter-tidal area with friends at Pulau Hantu.

The inter-tidal area on the island itself isn't really huge but it does have a variety of 'attractions'. First, there are some mangrove trees which one can get really close up and observe their aerial roots (picture below).
Second, you are able to find some marine organisms found in some other inter-tidal areas in Singapore. Take for example, our first 'discovery', a common sea star (picture below). If you follow my postings, you will find that I sometimes bemoan the fact that despite being named the common sea star, this species of sea star is actually not common in Singapore. This is probably mainly due to the loss of habitat. However, in the past few months, they have been spotted at Sentosa and more recently, many in numbers at Tanah Merah (a reclaimed shore). I hope this is a sign that they can really become common.

Second 'discovery' would be something that you 'die-die also can see' unless something drastic happens (for example: water pollution), touch wood. Anyway, I am referring to corals. Here's a flowery soft coral (picture below).They are nice to look at but bad to touch. They will not break of course, but they can sting you, so it would be a good idea not to touch them. Anyway, do take a closer look whenever you come across one of these as you might come across tiny animals that can live on this kind of soft coral. I didn't really take a close look this time, but you can see some examples from this link.

Our third 'discovery' is also a coral. This is a mushroom coral (picture below)Mushroom corals are corals with a ... er ... two differences from other corals. One, unlike other corals which are attached on the ground/substrate/rock, the mushroom coral when as a adult lives unattached to those mentioned. Two, unlike corals which are mostly made up of many individual animals (named: polyps), mushroom corals are made up of either one polyp or sometimes a few.

Next up, our fourth 'discovery', a flat worm (picture below). As their name suggest, flatworms are really flat. This can help them to squeeze or move into narrow and small spaces to find food and at the same time to hide from their predators. At the same time, being really flat means that their bodies are easily tore when handled, so please handle them with them or don't handle them at all. One really interesting thing about them is that flatworms are hermaphrodites. In really simple terms, this means that a flat worm is both a guy and gal. In specific terms, flatworms have both the male and female reproductive organs.

Does this (picture below) look tasty to you? I bet crab lovers will drool over this...
However our fifth 'discovery', the red egg crab, is a crab which crab lovers should avoid as they are poisonous and more importantly, their poison CANNOT be wiped out by cooking.

Our sixth 'discovery' may look like a flatworm which you have seen earlier, however this is a nudibranch (picture below). To be more specific, this is a Bohol nudibranch, Discodoris boholiensus.As mentioned, you might have taken this as a flatworm. No worries, this happens to us sometimes as well. So how can we and you not make this mistake. Here's a site for help:

And lastly is the highlight of our trip, the seventh 'discovery', a....SEAHORSE (picture above and below)!I believe you might already know that an interesting fact about the sea horse is that the father carries the eggs of its young, in other words, get 'pregnant'. But do you know that seahorses are actually related to fishes but not horses. There are many more information about them, you can read them at

That about concludes this posting. Would like to thank R for organising this trip and all who were also there. It was another nice although short trip. =D