Sunday, 21 January 2007

First Semakau walk of the year ^^

Was out stalking shore critters yesterday. Yar, I know... I had to miss the first ReefWalk for this.... Found out later that they saw a nudibranch as big as a person's face (?!) Don't know if I should believe them or not.... Be prepared for a long, long entry!!

We started off the journey in a torrent of rain, with Ron trying to get us to interact a bit more since it IS an opportunity for the trainees to get to know the experienced guides. Got to the landfill area quite relaxed thanks to the light hearted atmosphere. Still raining so we waited in the canteen area. Between Semakau mangoes and table tennis, we had enough to keep us entertained.

Thankfully we didn't have to wait long, and soon we were on our way to the entry area via bus, and had a glimpse of one of the completely filled cells. Nice patch my grassy area over our burnt trash. Mr Poi's a real nice driver, even filling in more information about the filled cell for us ^^

Here we have arrived at the entry area, at the stairs leading down to the last sheltered area we would have.

And looking back at the bus...

Peiya's expression says it all, doesn't it? ^^

A quick intro to some plants and butterflies while waiting for the light drizzle to come to a complete stop.

After bashing through the forest with muddy sploches everywhere, we were greeted by this amazing area of HUMONGOUS reef flat. Tried to take a panoroma of it but forgot to change the settings, resulting in this badly done patchwork photo of part of the reef flat area. So HUGE!!!! Simply unbelieveable!!! Please click on the thumbnail to see the full scope of it. ^^

After oogling at the amount of reef/shore exposed, we started off exploring in drips and draps.

Saw so many things that I can't remember what I saw in what order, so will just present some of them here. The complete range of photos are in my Yahoo! photos.

Here's looking at ya, baby!! Baby cuttlefish!!! Only around a 1-2cm in length. This was the only decent shot I got of it. The focus on the other one was off.

One of the many nudis out in throves yesterday. Can't remember whose finger I used for a scale though....

Got scolded by E1 for not bringing down my camera the very first time we saw this Gymnodoris rubropapulosa nudibranch just off the breakwater where the replanted mangroves at Semakau while diving.

Not being an anemone person, can only tell that this is a branched anemone....

If you think this is yet another anemone, think again. It's actually a Heliofungiid, a type of solitary free-living mushroom coral. In other words, a hard coral. The tentacles somewhat resemble that of the bulbous anemone that tomato clownfish are associated with. Easily mistaken since unlike most hardcorals, these tentacles are out ALL the time.

One of the most common residents of Singapore's natural shores, the hairy crab.

Yet another commonly seen crab not just in Singapore, but seen them along Paya beach at Tioman Island in West Malaysia. Plese correct me if I am wrong but I *think* it's a sesarmid crab.

Big, fat sandfish sea cucumber. Well, it seems like the edible species of sea cucumbers are named something or another "fish". Also saw the stonefish sea cucumber but by the time I got there, waters too murky to try taking any shots. Oh well...

This fella was found amongst the seagrass field, right next to our zone of death. Can you guess what it is? It's the mouth of a synaptid sea cucumber, and they can grow REALLY REALLY long. Think this one that we saw was 1m-odd.

Another encouraging thing we saw all over the reef flat. Tonnes and tonnes of coral recruits. Something that I have yet to see at Kusu... SOOOOoooo cool seeing so many of them popping up nearly everywhere ^^

Looks like Davy Jones' locks (think pirates of the Caribbean), right? Kinda gross. This is a soft coral, one kind of dead man's fingers. ^^

I spy with my little eye a Fugu!!! This little guy was flopping about in a series of pools. Refused to keep still for a photo and kept mucking up the water.

Guess this was the reason it was so skittery. The photo's blurry but it's an attempt at a close-up of a big ugly laceration on the poor puffer.

Introducing the noble volute!!! This is the first one we saw, rather early in the evening some more.

Close up of the nicely patterned mantle. Love the orange patches. so chio~~~ *fangirls*

Then someone spotted this clump of unusual looking stuff. Looked like some kind of eggs, though only confirmed it with Zee later. These are noble volute eggs!!! A reall first for me ^^ Big thanks to Zee for the ID-ing!!

And this was the bigger one that we spotted just as we were ending the walk. Probiscus and all out, mantle nicely spread. PERFECT photo opportunity, man!!

The icons of the CJ guidebook, the knobbliy sea stars!! First time seeing them, so big!!! Pity we don't get them at Kusu. Big and colorful, definitely appeal to visitors. ^^

Up close with an arm...

And the 5 pinnacles up close... Why do they look so looming?

That's because they are THIS big!!! Practically giants compared to the dull colored common sea stars that are almost everywhere.

This fragile looking feather star aka crinoid is a familiar friend to me. But it's the first time I see one in the intertidal area!! And apparently it's a first for a Semakau walk too!

Samson found this!! A cushion star ^^ Also a first for Semakau walks. So glad I decided to tag along with Ron when he went in search of this cushion star!! Since I also caught a glimpse of a small octopus near the cushion star, though we did end up pretty far fromt he entry point....

Cushion star texture. Why's it so bumpy? It's an echinoderm, so related to crinoids and sea stars and sea cucumbers, and thus the bumpy skin. Darn... just short of a sea urchin sighting....

Dusk starts to fall but there's a bunch of us (kinda led by Ron here) at the far end of the flats... near those evil looking chimneys that are puffing out fumes....

Minus Ron, it's definitely a juxtaposition of nature and urbanisation... Oh those evil buildings in the background.....

Time to head back... See the light at the far end at the edge of the trees? That's our entry/exit point.... But wait, the sightings have nto come to an end!!!

What could this be? Looks like another anemone, but wait! It's pulsating....

It's an upside down jellyfish!!! Or at least it was until we turned it over ^^ It looks greenish because it has algae in it (are they zooxs too?) So they usually are found upside down, so as to expose as much of the algae/zoox to sunlight as possible, thus the name.

With this, the show-and-tell session comes to an end, and by right, that would have been the end of the day for me as well if I hadn't gone over to Marina South to join the rest of the RWers.... At least I got Zee to ID the clump of eggs, got introduced to yet another guide, plus had an interesting ride home with Elain, DW, and Kim Yong in MS's car. ^^ Including this excerpt of the car conversation(s) just for entertainment value (if any):

With just 2 passengers left in the car....
KY: "So where do you stay?"
J: "Boon Lay"
KY: "MS, where you staying now?"
MS(rather nonchalantly): "I'm staying over at her place"
KY: "Oh, OK."
= 5-10 seconds of silence =
KY: "Wait a minute...."
*J & MS laugh*
MS: "No la... Going back NTU...."
Shows what sleepiness does to thought processes.....

Oh, and other takes on yesterday's exploratory walk.
Til the next low tide then~~~

1 comment:

Siyang said...

Amazing photos!