Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Humungous cuttlefish on Day 10 of the Southern Expedition

A gianormous cuttlefish that is bigger than Jiaxin's foot was the highlight of the day!
Photo by Jiaxin.
Of course, there were also many other interesting finds as three teams surveyed Big Sisters, Raffles Lighthouse and Cyerene Reef. As well as a dredge survey.

The cuttlefish was caught by Razali (holding the pail) in a lagoon nearby. We all look at the cuttlefish with awe in the seawater holding tank. Razali is probably the most indispensable person at the Expedition. He not only looks after all the facilities, makes sure everything is running smoothly, but also helps with fishing related surveys.
Yujie brings out the references to confirm its identification: possibly Sepia latimanus. We believe it is the first specimen we have of this not uncommon cuttlefish.
Earlier in the morning, I was out at Big Sisters Island. We enjoyed a subtle dawn, here's Prof Daphne surveying the lagoon for sea anemones, while Dr Len McKenzie is checking out the seagrasses there.
Fortunately, for a while, we had some help at digging out the Peachia sea anemones that Prof Daphne is looking for.
This is why we have to dig so hard. The anemone is was very long! Sadly, though we looked, we couldn't find the 'Brown peachia' sea anemone that Prof Daphne is looking for. It is a new species! To be described from Singapore! Wow!
Prof Daphne found this pretty Moon-headed sidegill slug that burrows in the sand to hunt for critters to eat. She also found a peanut worm with a little flatter worm on it.
I found this strange nudibranch that I've been seeing regularly during the survey. Chay Hoon will probably know what it is.
A view of Little Sisters Island from where we were on Big Sisters Island with the main business district on the horizon. There's a tragic story behind the names of the two islands.
We left Sisters Island early, and decided to survey St John's Island as well when we got home. We didn't find the 'Brown peachia' but did find a 'Bob the Blob', a very plain sea anemone that is usually greyish beige. Prof Daphne has identified as Paracondylactis sinensis. She explains that it is not unusual for some sea anemones to be pink or red.
The anemone was eating a fish head!
We bumped into Mei Lin and Karenne, the Giant Clam ladies who were on their way to survey the shore for their work. My swimming camera was still wet so the photo of them was blurry.
When I got back later in the afternoon, the dredge was back in with lots of interesting finds. Thankfully, Ivan was here to live tweet some of these finds.
Photo by Ivan Kwan.
Among them, lots of bryozoans also known as moss animals or lace corals. If you want to find out more about them, do come for Dr Kevin Tilbrook's talk on 1 Jun (Sat) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
In a few hours, we head out for yet more morning trips!

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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