Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Echinoderm hangout

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This is my first-ever trip to this stretch of Changi, but taking into consideration the echinoderms I encountered on my previous trip to a different part of Changi, I think this whole area is really proving to be a great place for echinoderm diversity.

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Kok Sheng was supposed to be looking for the spiny sand star (Astropecten indicus), but instead we found plenty of Asterina coronata. It doesn't seem to have a common name, so we affectionately nickname it the rock star.

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Do you see the cute baby goby next to the sea star? It's barely 2 centimetres in length!

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This rock star is more orange in colour.

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This is a semi-deflated cucumarid sea cucumber, seeking out the dampness beneath a rock while waiting for the tide to rise. It's listed in A Guide to the Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore as 'cucumarid sp. 1' on page 156.

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I placed it in the water, where it looks a lot happier.

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Sea urchins with short black spines (Temnopleurus toreumaticus?) can be found clinging to the rocks.

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An echinoderm gallery! Asteroidea (sea stars), Echinoidea (urchins and sand dollars), and Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers) are represented here. Now I just need to repeat this feat with the addition of a brittle star (Ophiuroidea) and a featherstar (Crinoidea), and I'll have a complete set.

I've never found echinoderms very fascinating, being more into molluscs and crustaceans in general. But I have to admit, there is a certain excitement in finding echinoderms. Before I started getting more involved this year, I'd only seen a tiny handful of Singapore's echinoderm diversity. But after having gone on more shore trips, I'm really beginning to realise just how wonderfully diverse they are, in terms of morphology and ecology.

Coming up: things you should not touch, and death on the shore. Stay tuned.

This is part 2 of a 4-part series on a trip to Changi on 21st May, 2008.

Part 1: Changi's Hidden Wonders
Part 2: Echinoderm Hangout (this post)
Part 3: Do not touch!
Part 4: Death on the shores

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