Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Last Friday we headed out on our pre-dawn expedition to Cyrene reef with Dr Lane, echinoderm expert, on a modest Dolphin boat with an accompanying Baby Dolphin dinghy we needed for our amphibious landing.

Cyrene reef is situated west of Labrador beach, right smack in between Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom -- a busy shipping lane with very choppy waters.

Setting out from the Singapore Yacht Club, I could barely keep my eyes open as we geared up. I was extremely sleepy, but thoroughly excited because it's not easy to go to this elusive reef. Few boatmen want to take you there and it is only revealed at suitable low tides. Cyrene is a must-visit, given her rumoured notoriety of being one of the most sea-star abundant intertidals in Singapore.

The last time the wild crew were there, MPA paid a visit with embarassing loud-hailer hospitality. There is always some explaining to do and it really helps that the NParks folks are around with us.

As we took turns to climb off the boat onto the dinghy and subsequently splosh unceremoniously into hip-high water on the sand banks of Cyrene, instructions on what to look out for were called out. We were on the quest for an evil-looking sea star, Pentaceraster -- which, predictably (just like previous trips with Dr Daphne for those stupid Condylactus 'nems), eluded us up til the last few minutes (tide's coming in!! HELLO?!), and that, according to Dr Lane, made this visit entirely worth the effort.

I'd never seen so many freakin' knobbly sea stars in one place in my life! My lousy bunny eyes seldom spot me any exciting knobs but that morning was like... freakin' knobbly pallooza. It wasn't just the abundance of knobblies that got me excited but that there were also sooo many anemone shrimp out and about, almost entirely oblivious to my fingering their anemone hosts. Kok Sheng also spotted a queer lil pencil urchin and funny sea hares.

I felt up a few sea hares myself and gave hand jobs to some naughty-lookin' knobblies (the Duck finds that a turn-on...) I'm kidding of course. Thanks to Marcus for the photos :)

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