01 May 2010

Star Trackers on Cyrene Reef

First time visitors are often overwhelmed by the number of Knobbly sea stars that can be seen on Cyrene!
Photo by Marcus Ng.

Chim Chee Kong and Tan Sijie have discovered that the arrangement of knobs on these sea stars are unique (to the trained eye). Thus individual Knobbly sea stars can be tracked! They decided to start up an effort called the Star Trackers to learn more about Knobbly sea stars on Cyrene as well as other shores in Singapore!
The awesome Star Trackers blog!

Cyrene is a special place for Knobbly sea stars for several reasons.

Firstly, there are a LOT of Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) on Cyrene. In fact, the Star Trackers believe Cyrene has "perhaps the largest Knobbly sea star population in Singapore".
Large yellow flag marks a Knobbly on Cyrene.
Photo by Loh Kok Sheng.
Here's some of the Knobblies marked out with yellow flags on Cyrene during a Star Tracker survey. Despite the close proximity to major international shipping lanes and the Pasir Panjang Container Terminals. As well as ongoing dredging and other major coastal works nearby.
During a short low tide window, and working as fast as they can, the Star Trackers can measure and record more than 100 Knobbly sea stars on Cyrene Reef!
Those Knobblies seem to be everywhere on Cyrene Reef!
Secondly, Cyrene is home to Knobblies of varying ages. From huge adults to small juveniles. The Star Trackers say that "the presence of juveniles, subadults and adults indicated that there is a healthy level of recruitment at Cyrene Reef. This habitat may be the only sustainable population of knobbly seastars left in Singapore today".

A bewildering variety baby Knobblies on Cyrene!
Besides monitoring the Knobblies in the field, the Star Trackers are also active in public outreach efforts to share about Cyrene. Through public exhibitions, talks and special events such as . They have also been featured in the newspapers and on TV, in order to highlight the beauty of our marine life and Cyrene Reefs.

Saw a Knobbly sea star? Take a photo of it and share the photo on the Star Tracker flickr group so that they can include your sighting in their study. Here's more on how you should take your sea star photo so that it can be more useful to the Star Trackers.

More links
Star Trackers the blog - find out What are knobbly seastars? Where can knobbly seastars be found? How to track seastars?

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