Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red-lipped morwong

I see
red-lipped morwongs (Cheilodactylus rubrolabiatus) every time I snorkel in the Marmion Marine Park. They usually swim alone. Their most impressive feature is their red lips if you asked me. You just can't miss them.

The red-lipped morwong in the second photo seemed to have been 'cornered' by three banded toadfish. I wonder what they were up to. A confrontation? I read that the banded toadfish, although small, can get aggressive.

And toadies are poisonous; you can get really ill or die if you eat enough it seems.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sea anemones

I found
these sand anemones in the sand-covered rocky shore areas at North Beach. Their bodies (columns) were buried in sand. Only their tentacles were visible.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sea stars

I have always thought there is only one kind of sea stars and they all have five arms. I mean, come one, isn't that what cartoon and clip art sea stars usually look like?

Well, most of the sea stars I see are six-armed. So I was quite excited to find a five-armed sea star when I took a walk on the Monkey Mia beach one morning.

You can find a five-armed, six-armed, seven-armed, eight-armed, up to fourteen-armed sea star, depending on the species. That's what Graham J Edgar's book 'Australian Marine Life' (2000) says. Interesting.

And you must have heard about the ability of sea stars to regenerate a lost arm. Well, some websites say that if you ever try to kill a sea star, you don't want to chop them up into pieces and chuck them back into the water. These might regenerate to make more sea stars.

So what can you do to get rid of them? You can poison them with copper sulphate and sodium bisulphate! You can inject them one by one.

In general, sea stars can regenerate a lost arm. But that's no big deal. There is a group of sea stars that can do better - Linckia starfish, which was named after JH Linckia, a 18th century naturalist.

The Linckia starfish can regenerate a new starfish from a single arm. So you will first see a funny looking starfish with one big arm and four little arms before the little ones grow bigger. That means they can forget about sex and still make a new sea star.

Some people actually keep Blue Linckia starfish as a pet! A website sells them for 12 to 28 US dollars depending on size. Keeping a sea star as a pet - maybe I would like to try that one day.

Note: If you are interested, check out these websites:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Relaxing moments on the beach

This is exactly what I would like to do every morning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sea tulips

I saw these sea tulips which were washed ashore when I went beachcombing at North Beach last Christmas.

These animals look just like plants. Like plants, adult sea tulips are not mobile. They are attached to the reef by a root-like structure at the end of their long stalks. They look pretty nice when they move about in the current. They belong to the group of animals called 'sea squirts' and can squirt a jet of water to fend off enemies. But I haven't had the luck to see them in action yet.

So far all the live sea tulips I saw at Cotteslow and the Marmion Marine Park were all solitary individuals. They were all dark-red like the ones in the photo. The colour comes from some encrusting sponge.

I saw an underwater, live sea tulip for the first time when I went snorkeling at Cottesloe last year. I saw some stinger jellyfish or look-alikes too, so I never returned since.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sea hares

(Note: Aplysia dactylomela; 26 July 08)

I went snorkelling at Mettams Pool, which is part of the Western Australia's Marmion Marine Park, and saw some sea hares!

This was the second time I saw these creatures and the first time was on the Penguin Island, off Rockingham (see pic). I must have snorkeled at Mettams Pool for not fewer than ten times but I have never seen any of them before. This time, armed with my newly acquired Olympus mju 790 SW camera, I made a short clip of them. The quality was amateurish but well, it takes time to learn the skill.

In fact, today must be such an 'auspicious' day for snorkeling at Mettams Pool. The waters were still cold but so calm and clear. And I saw a stingray and an octopus too!