Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Super Low at Labrador

The Wildfilms crew visited Labrador at super low last saturday. I was unfortunately unable to join them, as we were doing a Reefwalk out at Kusu (which was pretty amazing as well, but what things I missed!). Fortunately, Ria has kindly offered to share her photographs of some of the fascinating things exposed by the -0.1m tide. All photographs in this post were taken by her. Thanks, Ria! :)

They found FIVE seahorses on Labrador.

AND a HAIRY filefish! So the hairy crabs are not the only hairy things on Labrador. Filefish, also known as leatherjackets, have skin that is quite rough to touch, hence their name (file as in nail file, I guess - but i doubt the fish themselves would make good nailfiles! :p). As you can see, this one is covered by thick black hairs. He's quite colourful underneath too, blue-green all over.

And then there's the rather unusual assortment of small slimy things (which I seldom see on Labrador)...

A flatworm.

And some slugs! I'm still trying to find out what the tiny snot-green one on the left is, but the one on the right has been spotted quite frequently all over Singapore's shores recently. Glossodoris artromarginata is pale yellow, with the distinctive frilly black margin. The gills on its back swivel back and forth in the water, appearing to rotate. When startled or when picked up by an overly curious Homo sapiens, it can withdraw its gills and rhinopores (that's the 2 black things on its head, which are used to sense food or chemical signatures in the water) into its body. How cute is that? :)

The superlow tide also revealed some lovely corals at the fringe, which are usually still covered by water. Ria got some fantastic shots of them. More will be written about them soon, so keep checking back!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Labrador's all time favourite crab - the hairy crab

Pilumnus vespertilio is also called the Common hairy crab or the Teddy-bear crab! And when I say favourite, I mean as in personality and not palatability, so stop salivating.

Unlike the vicious swimming crabs or teh aggressive grapsids and the feeling rock crabs, the hairy crab seems to be the most gentle-natured of all the crabs in Labrador and our favourite!

After some initial efforts to move away, it will eventually rest in your palm, usually evicting squeals of "how sweet" from visitors to Labrador.

It is not a good idea to think of eating this small crab since other than seaweed, it may eat toxic zoanthids (colonial anemones) which can make this crab mildly poisonous.

It looks hairy because the body is covered by long hairs. These are slightly suspended when submerged in water and trap sediments, allowing the crab to blend into its surroundings by breaking the body outline.

It is slow moving and rarely seen unless you know where to look - under rocks in a specific zone along the shoreline. Yueat Tin had a look last month (May 2005) and took this photo.

Airani will be bringing the crew of the Malay magazine programme 647 to Labrador tomorow (09 Jun 2005) and promised to show them her favourite crab, the teddy-bear crab, so its going to get famous!