Sunday, July 08, 2012

Octopus Adventures at the Great Reef - Terumbu Raya

This is my first visit to Terumbu Raya. It is also my first trip to the Terumbus surrounding Pulau Semakau. Terumbu Raya is located in front of Semakau's intertidal shore. It is only separated by a narrow channel which is about 6m deep. Today, we saw a group of visitors visiting the Semakau's intertidal shore from Raya.

The morning was showered with the Sumatras, which is dead scary if out trip were to start before dawn. Luckily the rain died down when we arrive at the marina the sky cleared up. However the sea was choppy, very choppy. At Terumbu Raya, the wind was rather strong.

My first find was a bivalve on bivalve.
Barbatia ark clam?

The bivalve looks like a Barbatia ark clam (Barbatia sp.). Attached to this clam are three bivalves which I am not sure what they are.
Three unknown bivalves.
I'm going to create an adventure "story" of the octopus sightings of this trip. Each sightings has its own episode. So here goes as you continue reading this post.

Adventure of the Octopus - Episode 1: The shy guy
I made the first octopus sighting while Sankar was standing in front of it, unnoticing him. The octopus was out of its burrow and seems to be resting there. Sankar bend down and attempted to take a picture of it but it went back into its hiding hole. Damn... We stood there waiting and out it came. The cycle repeated for another time before I was able to get a shot of it.
The Shy Octopus
There were many broad feathery soft corals all over Terumbu Raya in varying sizes.
This soft coral has covered other animals.
Adventure of the Octopus - Episode 2: The tiny baby
Sankar found a baby octopus on a rock and it was really tiny. When the octopus notices that it was notice by us, it was scrambling away. I was trying to take a picture of it but the octopus was moving too fast for me. It found a hole in the rock and hid inside. We gave up and the returned the rock to the original position.

I saw a few giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea).
Giant carpet anemone
Couldn't find any anemone shrimps in them or nearby but I had a small peak of the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris). While checking on this half submerged giant carpet anemone, I saw a splash among the tentacles and a patch of orange moved. There was a anemonefish hiding under the anemone.  It did not want to come out to see me.
The clown anemonefish is hiding under the anemone on the right.
There were many small fish swimming swiftly in the shallow pool. It looked like they are playing a game with you, asking you to guess which hole they went into. I managed to find one resting outside and a hairy crab is nearby.
Small fish
Hairy crab
Adventure of the Octopus - Episode 3: The Hunter (Part I)
The third octopus we saw was rather docile. It stayed still at its entrance for us to take picture (now I think that we might have been blocking its way out). After my first shot, it left the burrow, swimming and wrapping objects before it disappeared into another hole. Perhaps it was out hunting for food?
I'm going out.
This looks like a dead oval fungia mushroom hard coral.
Mushroom hard coral?
There were many favid hard corals of various sizes.
Submerged favid hard coral
Moist looking favid hard coral
Buried by sand - the sand is shifting in?
Balding top
Looks like butt crack.
Maze pattern, some rather straight.
Other corals I saw:
Smooth leathery coral (Sinularia sp.) - Looks and feels like many fingers.
Brain coral? - The exposed part looks exploded.
Carnation corals (Pectinia sp.)?
Another brain coral?
There were also plenty of zoanthids in various expose stages.
Adventure of the Octopus - Episode 4: The Hunter (Part II)
Our fourth octopus sighting! And it gets more fun.
The spreading.
Slender movement.
Moving again.
Wrap! Wrap! Wrap!
Looks happy?
I noticed a few ball like object with little spikes on it. When I touched it, the spikes sticks on my fingers. No stinging though, phew! I call them the sea cactus balls. Look a cute fish!
Nope, it is just a rock with the "sea cactus balls" attached. It reminds me of the cute soft toys during the Festival of Biodiversity.

I was lucky to see a snapping shrimp swimming out in the open. Usually I would see them in their burrow.
Snapping shrimp
Adventure of the Octopus - Episode 5 (Final): The Colour Changer
My fifth octopus I called it a colour changer. Actually all the octopus we saw kept changing colour throughout, just that I managed to document the colour change this time round.
Staying close to rocks
Still close to rocks.
Quick, quick, move!
Colour change 1.
Colour change 2.
I only managed to see two slugs today - the pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa) and the polka-dot nudibranch (Jorunna funebris).
Pimply phyllid nudibranch
Polka-dot nudibranch
And I saw these black blobs with blue dots on the blades of a seagrass. I am not sure what it is.

The seagrass at Terumbu Raya seems to be doing better than the other places I have visited. I am no experience with seagrass but the seagrass here looks better and "healthier" than the other locations.
The tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) were sparsely distributed but most of them were longish with some having the cropped signs.
Tape seagrass
There were also many patches of the spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis). Chay Hoon showed me the picture of a tiny seahorse she found in one of the patches. I have no luck with seahorse so far.
Spoon seagrass
There were many great sighting by the other team members, including a giant nudibranch and few stingrays. I am new to this location and I feel that I need a few more trips to really understand this place.
Today marks the end of the field trips till the next new moon two weeks later.
What a great exciting and adventurous way to spend my weekend.

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