Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Weirdest Marine Creature

It was this afternoon when we spotted a small bluish object on a sandy beach. To me, it looked like some fibrous material a.k.a rubbish that was washed up by the high tide. Someone said to me that it isn't a piece of rubbish. And yes indeed. When I picked it up, the center of this object felt spongy. It felt like something which was alive much earlier. And when I looked around the beach, there were more of it were scattered all over the beach located on the North West of Langkawi. 


The bluish colour were running out of the object. Like a blue dye coming out when touches the water. Do you notice that on the above picture?

Click below to see close up pictures...

 The object above the center is the other side of this weird creature
 
The weird marine creature next to a set of sand balls made by sand crabs

A close up. This piece is almost the size of RM0.50 coin

Just when all of them were blue and out-of-the blue, I spotted a Yellow one! There was only one yellow we seen on that beach


What are they? They are not sea urchins, for sure. A few guesses came into my mind. Are they some sort of sand dollars or heart urchins? Or possibly they are some sort of echinoderms. Have anyone seen this species? Or could help to identify, please put your comments below. Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Interesting! These are rarely seen on Malaysian beaches! They are the 'Blue Button Jellies' Porpita porpita. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porpita_porpita)

    These are fascinating as they survive only on the ocean's surface. They belong to a specialist group called the pelagic animals. There are a lot of other blue creatures out there, all living on this layer. e.g.:

    1) Pelagic sea slugs (Glaucus spp.)
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glaucus_atlanticus)
    2) Purple sea snails (Jantina spp.)
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janthina_janthina)
    3) By-the-wind-sailor (Vellela vellela)
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/By_the_wind_sailor)
    4) Portugenese man-of-war jelly
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portugese_man_o_war)

    It's fascinating to see them washed up on west coast beaches as these are often found only after intense storms and winds driving waves onshore (eg: during monsoon), which is rare in the Straits. I've been searching these for ages! I've often assume they may only be found in wide oceans/seas like the South China Sea during the NE monsoon season.

    Seems like you've changed my thoughts! Perhaps there had been strong winds blowing in from the Andaman Sea lately, causing these to end up in Langkawi?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi JK,
      Thank you so much for putting the answers and your explanation here.

      I am not sure if anyone else on the island has seen them on our beaches yet. Langkawi is now having South West monsoon and lately, we have been getting strong wind, choppy water and big surf. But no intense storms.

      According to the link you sent, it mentioned that they occur in California, Pacific, Atlantic and Indian ocean. Therefore, I find it strange too to see them washed up on Langkawi beaches.

      Could this be a sign of global warming affect?

      You must come over to Langkawi now to see this!

      Delete
  2. Hi Dreamer,

    Haha Will do, one day! :D

    Thanks for the acknowledgements! :) Looks like indeed they're blown in from the open sea.

    I've just googled and found that there were only two other reports so far in Malaysia:

    -Pulau Perhentian (http://www.blogthebeach.com/2010/nature/jellyfish/blue-button-porpita-sightings-distribution)
    -Pulau Kapas (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nurilahi/4474851309/)

    while most photos concentrate around the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

    So, indeed this has something to do with the waves transporting them from the open South China Sea southwards and pushing them back along the Malay Peninsular northwards into Thailand.

    But it's quite hard to find any reports yet from the west coast. There are two possibilities:

    (1) They came from Indian Ocean (just beside Andaman Sea) and were blown onto Langkawi's beaches by the SW Monsoon.

    (2) They may have been blown southwards round Singapore and into Straits of Malacca and northwards till they hit the shores of Langkawi. This was shown to be the case for floating (dead) nautilus shells found on Koh Tarutao just north of Langkawi.

    It is hard to say if this was directly related to climate change. It is a very complex system to unravel. But from personal observations, the stronger monsoons we have these years does make me wonder if our local weather is indeed shifting towards the more extreme end.

    ReplyDelete

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