Friday, May 24, 2013

Nudilicious on Day 5 of the Southern Expedition

Nudibranchs galore! That's what I heard when I rejoined the Expedition in the evening.
My day ended well before sunrise, as I joined Prof Daphne in her anemone hunt at Seringat Kias.

This tricky slug with rhinophores but no gills is bedevilling our nudibranch enthusiasts.
Pei Yan and Chay Hoon were scrutinising the slug and information to try to figure it out.
Debby Ng of the Hantu Bloggers tweeted about the dives at Kusu Island and Pulau Jong. At Kusu Island, they found feather stars, basket stars, slugs and flatworms. At Pulau Jong, they spotted a shark, rays and parrotfish. Among the interesting finds she highlighted was this pretty shrimp found under a large Magnificent anemone.
Pei Yan also tweeted regularly to highlight some of the activity at the sorting station. Today is a public holiday so we had more visitors and volunteers helping out
Late into the night, the sorting of the dredge continues.
I tried to give them a hand with the sorting. The dredge brought up lots of little pebbles in various colours.
Looking carefully among them we can find little snail shells, barnacles, fluffy things that might be hydroids, and bits of bryozoans.
Much earlier today, Prof Daphne leds a predawn anemone hunt. Thanks to Yen-ling we had a comfy ride to Seringat-Kias on the buggy! Predawn trips are confusing. The work for the day ends at sunrise. So Day 5 of the Expedition barely started when we already finished our field trip for the day!
Seringat-Kias was created by reclaiming the submerged reefs of Seringat and Kias. One of the touted features on this island is the C-shaped 1km long artificial lagoon. Here's more about what was done to create Seringat-Kias. Marine life has settled in this artificial lagoon!
Prof Daphne wanted to sort out some puzzling sea anemones on this trip. And we were quite successful in this and in observing a variety of sea anemones.
There were lots of other little fishes which I couldn't sample because I forgot to bring a handnet. But this young Batfish was pretending to be a leaf and I simply picked it up.
Here's another strange fish that we saw. It was half buried in the wet sand near the water and very much alive. When I tried to dig it out, it proceeded to bury itself deeper into the sand! Was it trying to lay eggs in the sand and got caught by the low tide? So much more to learn about our marinelife.
I saw a very large grouper hiding near the artificial rock wall, it was about 40cm long!
When we started at 3am, I popped by the labs and Iffah was still cheerfully hard at work at the Preservation Station.
Rene is still hard at work taking photos!
Rene is very happy with the little tanks for shooting little critters. Thanks to Clarence Chua for getting these tanks made for me.
Dr Arthur is still at work too! To have a closer look at the lovely photo on his laptop, check out his facebook post here!
I got back just in time to see Dr Zeehan busy churning out delicious fried eggs for breakfast for everyone. Alas, I couldn't stay as I rushed for the morning boat back to the mainland.
I rushed to catch the 8.30am boat back to the mainland and saw ominous weather building on the mainland while it was still sunny on St. John's Island.
Wah, there is a big angry cloud heading towards the Southern Islands as we head back to Singapore. Dr Joelle is making a valiant journey alone to get special hawker food lunch for the rest of the team. Fortunately, we met a volunteer who missed the boat and could give her a hand to bring the lunch back. The patience, sacrifices and personal effort of many people make this Expedition possible.
Many of us are already feeling a little stressed. Yen-ling recommends the Relaxation Cupboard. It's a dark place where specimens are placed to allow them to unfurl and expand. But it seems like a good place for stressed humans too!
In a few hours time, we will head out for another predawn trip. This time the whole expedition will visit Terumbu Semakau which lies just off the Semakau Landfill. Here's more about Terumbu Semakau and some past trips to this beautiful submerged reef.

During the Expedition, I will try to post live updates on twitter as well as to facebook and the Mega Marine Survey facebook page. These will get less frequent as I start to do field work. I'm not very good at the smart phone in the field, and also, phone connections are not always strong enough to post regularly. So also check out tweets by participants using the hashtag for the Survey  #MegaMarine. These are consolidated on the Mega Marine Survey blog.

Volunteer sign up for the Southern Expedition are already closed due to limited places and early logistical arrangements needed for participation.

But no worries, you CAN still join the Survey! Lots of surveys will continue after the Expedition, just at a less frenzied rate. There will be lots of other opportunities for volunteers to participate in dredging, field surveys as well as laboratory sessions. To join the Mega Marine Survey, register your interest in this form and you'll be invited to join the mailing list to receive updates on the Survey and sign up for Survey activities. Also check out the FAQs for more about the Survey.

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