Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sponge explosion on Day 6 of the Southern Expedition

Huge sea fans and large sponges were collected today. Wow! Singapore has astonishing marine life and we wouldn't know it if we didn't go out and look.
 Well before dawn, the intertidal team had already completed the Expedition's first morning trip with lots of interesting finds.

At 3am today under the full moon, the Expedition made a quick safe landing on Terumbu Semakau, the beautiful submerged reef that lies just next to Singapore's only landfill, and just across from the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom, all lighted up at night.
Despite it's location, Terumbu Semakau has a rich living reef. With all kinds of corals, sponges and other animals. There's lots of life too under the coral!
As we got back, we immediately get down to processing all the finds!
First, the animals are sorted into their scientific groups so that they can be sent to the relevant scientists. The animals will also be photographed, tissue samples taken to preserve their genetic information and the animals eventually preserved so that they can be studied years later.
Wow, we sure have a lot of pretty little snails on our reefs.
What a lovely bouquet of sponges!
One of our special finds was this Domed elbow crab found by Marcus Ng.  We also found a good variety of fishes. I tried to include a Burrowing snake eel (Pisodonophis crancrivorous), but it jumped out of my pail!
During the day, there were dive and dredge surveys too. Debby Ng of the Hantu Bloggers and Heng Pei Yan have been tweeting happenings all morning. Apparently this False stonefish caused some injury when it jumped out of its container and hurt Dr Zeehan.
Photo by Heng Pei Yan.
In the evening, I returned to Base Camp together with the dinner! The two ladies take a ride on the buggy to make sure the dinner doesn't fall off.
We arrived to an explosion of sponges which were collected during today's dredge! Wow!
Sorting is a big big job and made easier by the many hands of kind volunteers who turned up in large numbers today. Juat Ying has sorted out all kinds of interesting animals into smaller containers for further processing.
These ladies have been breaking rocks all day. What kind of animals live there? Mostly worms. Well, we wouldn't know if we didn't look.
Rene Ong still hard at work at the Photograph Station! There's a never-ending line of specimens to be photographed.
The ladies at the Preservation Station also have lots to do. They are having great success preserving flatworms which are very tricky to do.
Also check out photo albums of the Survey shared by Toh Chay Hoon with highlights of some strange and interesting critters.
And by Loh Kok Sheng, who also blogged about our trip to Terumbu Semakau. While Ivan Kwan has furiously started tweeting since he arrived. It was Ivan who started us on live updates during the Northern Expedition. Thanks to everyone for helping to update on happenings via social media!
While Prof Peter headed a night collection trip, the rest of us are heading to bed for another early morning trip in a few hours time.
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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