Diving with (once) extinct animals

Date January 25, 2018

Debby Ng: Joined NParks and Friends of Sisters Island Marine Park for the first BioBlitz of this year’s International Year of the Reef! There will be more BioBlitzes coming up soon, at islands and reefs all over Singapore, so stay tuned to see what we discover! Above: Nudibranch, Phyllodesmium serratum. All photographs © Toh Chay Hoon, 2018

This dive goes up there amongst one of my most awesome underwater experiences (or just all round awesome experiences in Nature!) as I got to bear witness to an animal that was thought extinct for over a century – the Neptune’s Cup sponge (Cliona patera). There are only a few known individuals in all of the world’s oceans (yes… go ahead, drop your jaw) and 5 of them are in Singapore. Yesterday, I met 4 of them and they are growing well and fast! They are astonishingly beautiful and I can understand how collectors in the 19th century were allured by its beauty. Hopefully we (the global community) are a little wiser this time, and seek to preserve beauty rather than obsess over owning it. What a wonderful job our local marine scientists have done in re-discovering an extinct species and now safe guarding them for future generations! May there be many more Neptune’s cup sponges in all our seas and oceans so that others can be awed by their beauty and revived existence! Above: Detail of Neptune’s Cup sponge

What is a BioBlitz? Marine Bioblitz is an opportunity for experienced scuba divers to help document the biodiversity of Singapore, with opportunities to interact with marine biologists. If you are keen to participate, email NParks for details. Above: Cystiscus minutissimus

See more from the BioBlitz at Sisters Island Marine Park!

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