Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Semakau, a land filled with wonders

It was a blazing morning as the sun revealed itself in a majestic manner, firing up the sky a deep orange red which finally simmered down to a cloudy brown as we passed Pulau Jong to reach Pulau Semakau.

The avid seagrassers were also busy with shooting this wonderful sunrise, a good omen for the day ahead perhaps?

This trip would mark my second time here at Semakau and I'm very very excited to visit the large seagrass meadow and the reef edge there.

After doing the transect, its exploring time again and this time, armed with a new 35mm Macro lens, I went to peer closer at what actually lies in our waters. On the seagrass, there were many sponge-like "growths" which are actually ascidians or more commonly called sea squirts. These cute fellas come in all shapes, sizes and colours and some are even solitary (these here are colonial).

The corals there look healthy too and some of them are just HUGE. I'm still looking out for those pink porites which I think are pink due to a pigment they produce to shield them from the sun's UV rays.

Scattered around the intertidal zone are numerous sponges that may resemble the stony corals seen there except that they are soft. These guys actually get their nutrition from particulate matter in the water column and they do that by sucking in water from small pores called ostia and filtering the water with tiny hairs in their main body. The water is then expelled out from a bigger opening called the oscula. Interesting isn't it!

While treading back to collect my transect tape and bag, I chanced upon this Heliofungia sp. which looks like an anemone. These corals, although the uncanny similarities to anemones, belong to a totally different group of corals as they build a calcium carbonate skeleton whereby the anemone does not.

Other than the animals there, the algaes are also quite interesting if you look at them closer. This purplish, stringy algae was found on the stake marking the transect area. Looks a bit like the "fa cai" that Chinese people eat during the New Year.

Further up after the seagrass meadow, I found quite a few Halimeda sp. which are a special type of algae that incorporate calcium into their tissues. These algaes are crucial for reefs as they provide a substrate for the many organisms to grow on.

There's also this awesome looking one that looks like fingernails

Near my transect site, I spotted this horseshoe crab moult. I didn't know horseshoe crab moults are actually orange in colour as they usually are green. I'm also quite amazed by the seemingly perfect symmetry in the shell.

Helen found this little Batfish amongst some seagrass. This guy was just about palm size and could grow up to bigger than my head when it matures. The adults are usually darker in colour and their fins might also develop streamers.

As noon approaches, the weather started to turn scorching hot! Some of us couldn't take the heat and rested in the shade while waiting for the others to be done with their exploring. Ironically, this parched land would soon be engulfed by the incoming tide.

Besides the watery wonders, there are also nice finds on land too. I noticed that there were many mangrove seedlings growing. Hopefully, when I return in the future, they would have grown into trees.

This strange looking plant actually has hairy fruits!

Who would've thought that the world looks so different close up. Maybe everyone in this world should take a closer look at our Earth, as taking a peek might reveal a whole new story...

1 comment:

JC said...

Nice trip. Can't wait to make my 1st trip there.