Just when everyone else had their share of sightings on the Sea apple sea cucumber, I saw my first one! It turns out that they were very common along this shore - up to 7 along this short stretch! Sea apple sea cucumber suffers from harvesting for the aquarium trade. Despite their colorful outer appearance, they do not make good aquarium pets for they are 1) toxic to other tank mates and 2) do not do well in aquarium set ups. It is a good to know that these individuals are still breeding and coming back up to the low tidal heights...
|Two different individuals of Sea apple sea cucumbers|
The shore is a hotbed for sea cucumbers - I personally saw three unknown sea cucumbers! The others have seen them before but we do not know of their actual identities.
My initial thought was another 'new sea cucumber' when I first saw this whitish-purple individual. It turned out that this little one is the Purple sea cucumber, and it's bleaching. Though it has partially lost its colour, the individual appears to be fine and extending its tentacles. Perhaps the rain isn't very good for it.
|Bleached Purple sea cucumber|
The normal shade of purple in the Purple sea cucumber can be seen in this photo below (top left corner). Also in the same phylum Echinodermata, sea stars are fairly common on the shore. Here we can see a sizable Biscuit seastar.
|Top panel: Biscuit seastars; Bottom panel: Painted sand seastar|
Tiger sea anemones were very widespread across the shore. I had encountered at least 10 individuals, where their spots on the body column varied in colours - pink or orange.
|Bottom right: New anemone identified recently; remaining photos: Tiger sea anemones|
Carpet anemones were medium-size and also comes in different colours.
Sea pens and sea pencils were easy to spot as they stuck out of the substrates. These animals are living HDB for other animals such as the Painted porcelain crabs. Sometimes, nudibranches, shrimps, snapping shrimps and ovulids!
|Top left: Sea pencil; Other photos: Spiky sea pens|
I didn't see much hard corals but there were some small patches of soft corals. Only one of them has a tiny snapping shrimp.
Coming up from the muddy substrates were several of these coastal horseshoe crabs' moults. I didn't see any live individuals on this trip.
Again, I saw the Milliaris cowries. Instead of them stuck to the rocks, I found them either wedged between the debris or on the main substrate.
Also seen on the previous trip, the Calf moon snails were also present on this shore.
As the tides receded, the sea fans present at the low-water mark start to appear and Kok Sheng pointed out a pretty ovulid cowrie on the sea fans.
Fishy encounters were the charismatic ones - Pipefishes and Seahorses. Marcus even found a super tiny seahorse (see bottom right panel)! It's barely the length of the seagrass blade beside it. hahaha...
|Top panel: Pipefish; Bottom panel: Sea horses|
Another good trip out to the shores. Time is tight! And I'm off to the International Coral Reef Symposium 2012, Cairns, Australia tonight! I will be presenting my work on larval biology of fluted giant clams and hope to meet the other coral reef scientists during the meetings. See you all when I get back!