Kimberley Marine Research Station, Cygnet Bay: notes on the marine fauna

Article | Updated 2 years ago

Jane Fromont, Clay Bryce, Glenn Moore
Western Australian Museum

We conducted a short faunal diversity survey at five stations at Kimberley Marine Research Station (KMRS) between 29th and 31st October 2012. The five sites visited were:  Shenton Bluff reef, Shenton Bluff lagoon inshore of the reef, Riddell Point, White Rocks, and Front Beach and White Rocks reef and the habitats between the reef and mangroves (Table 1, Figure 1).

Shenton Bluff reef was surveyed on snorkel, and the lagoon on snorkel and by wading. Both Riddell Point and White Rocks were surveyed on snorkel and visibility was reduced due to an incoming tide and deeper water depth; visibility was particularly reduced at White Rocks reef where a higher organic load was present in the water column.

Front Beach and White Rocks reef and associated habitats were surveyed by reef walking and wading. At the time of the visit the tides were not suitable for fieldwork at Sunday Island and adjacent areas.

In the following tables (Tables 1-6) are documented the habitats visited and the fauna recognised and/or photographed on the reefs. This is a preliminary list of species found on the reefs in the taxon groups: sponges, fishes, molluscs, hard corals, and soft corals. Species lists will greatly expand as fieldwork to the areas continue. No collecting of specimens was undertaken on this visit thus limiting identification of species of some taxon groups, for example sponges. These are given a general descriptor in the attached tables. We also include images of some of the species recorded (Figures 2-6).

Acknowledgements. We are very grateful to James Brown and Ali McCarthy for facilitating our stay at the research station, and our surveys of the reefs. We thank Monika Bryce and Zoe Richards for identifying soft and hard corals, and Jenelle Ritchie for sorting and labelling the images.

General habitat descriptions of sites visited at Cygnet Bay. Coordinates given in WGS84 Datum.

Date Time Site Station Latitude Longitude Depth
29-Oct-12 6.28am Shenton Bluff
  Snorkel site: Intertidal lower littoral zone. CB1 S16.47949° E123.04073° 1.5 m
  Embayed reef with coarse coralline sand overlain with fine sediment and mixed with coral rubble. The area was dominated by small rocky outcrops and monolithic coral colonies. At times these would coalesce to form larger units of rocky reef, Acropora thicket and Pocillopora reef. Outcrops had a diverse coverage of sponges, soft corals, encrusting corals and hydroids. Macroalgae was also conspicuous.
8:45am  Shenton Bluff - Lagoon
  Snorkel site: Intertidal lagoon CB2 S16.47797° E123.04456° 1.2 m
  Lagoon site that merges with CB1 at high tide. Shore of lagoon was "biscuit" limestone, black with algae and covered with barnacles, the oyster, Saccostrea cuccullata, as well as the chiton, Acanthopleura gemmata. The east side of the lagoon presented with a rocky reef, which tended to a rubble zone with fine sediment on the west side. This side of the lagoon merged with the rocky shore. The rocky outcrops of the lagoon had small colonies of soft corals, corals, sponges and hydroids, which also formed small isolated colonies amid the coral rubble. The underside of the larger rubble slabs presented a good coverage of encrusting invertebrate life. A feature of the site was a population of the giant clam, Tridacna squamosa. 
  9:11am Riddell Point
Snorkel site: Intertidal lower littoral zone. CB3 S16.46427° E123.02876° 3 m
  Reef with coarse coral rubble and coralline sand. Site covered with isolated coral colonies with the green algae, Caulerpa and Halimeda. Other macroalgae were also evident. Inshore the rubble and coral colonies gave way to a gently sloping sandplain of fine sediment with a high density of the gastropod mollusc, Strombus urceus.
  9:50am White Rocks
Snorkel site: Intertidal lower littoral zone. CB4 S16.46193° E123.01044° 4 m
  Reef consisted of, and built on, fractured coral rubble from past catastrophic events probably due to prevailing trade winds and cyclonic damage. This site had many solitary corals from the family Fungiidae. The bivalve mollusc, Septifa bilocularis was very dominant, and there was a profusion of dead shell amid the coral rubble.
30-Oct-12 6:10am Front Beach
  Intertidal Mid-littoral zone. CB5 S16.45520° E123.01643° 0 m
  Mangrove fringed shoreline following a small sandy embayment leading to an abrupt beach-rock rampart. The sediment of the small embayment was coarse to fine and heavily pocked with stingray feeding-pits. The carnivorous gastropod, Nassarius dorsatus was common on the sand. The rampart consisted of large flat boulders of fractured beach rock that extended along the shoreline and out to the lower littoral. The rampart supported upper littoral molluscan communities, including a high density of the oysters, Saccostrea cuccullata and Saccostrea echinata. Small tide pools had formed in the upper littoral at the base of the rampart with isolated coral colonies and macroalgae. At the mid to lower littoral levels a low profile patch reef had formed supporting colonies of corals, soft corals and sponges.

Table 2. Sponge species recorded from sites visited at Cygnet Bay.

Station name Shenton Bluff reef Shenton Bluff lagoon Riddell Point White Rocks Front Beach/ White Rocks
Sampling time (minutes) 60 45 15 15 60
Family Station no.
CB1 CB2 CB3 CB4 CB5

Species
Tetillidae Cinachyrella australiensis
Ancorinidae Rhabdastrella globostellata
Clionaidae Cliona brown
  Cliona orange
  Spheciospongia large orange ball
  Spheciospongia yellow turrets
  Spheciospongia black turrets
  Spheciospongia brown turrets
Suberitidae Suberites?
Placospongiidae Placospongia sp.
Chondrillidae Chondrilla sp.
  Chondrilla? orange
Dictyonellidae Liosina sp.
Halichondriidae Cymbastela stipitata
Mycalidae Mycale sp. KMB2
Iotrochotidiae Iotrochota sp. KMB1
  Iotrochota yellow
Isodictyidae Coelocarteria sp. KMB1
Guitarridae Tetrapocillon sp.
Raspailiidae Echinodictyum clathrioides
Microcionidae Clathria (Thalysias) reinwardti
  Clathria? encrusting pink
Poecilosclerida encrusting red thick
  small orange tiny ridges
  low red ramose branches
Callyspongiidae Callyspongia mauve cylinders
  Callyspongia green
Chalinidae Haliclona (Gellius) cymaeformis
  Haliclona soft cerise
  Haliclona sp. 20
  Haliclona low green spikey
Haliclona mauve tiny
  Haliclona mauve
Niphatidae Amphimedon orange branching
  Gelloides sp.
Petrosiidae Neopetrosia exigua
Phloeodictyidae Aka white burrowing
  Aka ochre/yellow
  Aka pink/purple
  Aka mound yellow turrets
Irciniidae Sarcotragus black mound
Thorectidae Phyllospongia? thin
  Phyllospongia? ridged/conulose
  Strepsichordaia? white fan
Ianthellidae Ianthella basta
  Ianthella flabelliformis
Verongidae Pseudoceratina?
Total no. species recorded 38 21 12 5 17

Table 3. Fish species recorded from sites visited at Cygnet Bay.

Station name Shenton Bluff reef Shenton Bluff lagoon Riddell Point White Rocks Front Beach/ White Rocks
Sampling time (minutes) 60 45 15 15 60
Family Station no.
CB1 CB2 CB3 CB4 CB5

Species
Dasyatidae Neotrygon kuhlii      
Urolophidae Taeniura lymma    
Atherinidae unidentified    
Fistularidae Fistularia commersonii    
Serranidae Cromileptes altivelis      
  Epinephelus fuscoguttatus      
  Epinephelus merra      
Plectropomus maculatus  
Therapontidae Amniataba caudivittatum
Terapon sp.
Apogonidae Apogon thermalis        
  Apogon rueppellii        
Cheilodipterus macrodon        
Sillaginidae Sillago sp.      
Echeneidae Echeneis naucrates      
Haemulidae Plectorhinchus polytaenia      
Lethrinidae Lethrinus laticaudis    
Lutjanidae Lutjanus carponotatus  
Lutjanus russelli
Nemipteridae Scaevius milii    
Chaetodontidae Chaetodon aureofasciatus  
Chelmon marginalis      
Pomacanthidae Chaetodontoplus douboulayi      
Pomacanthidae cont’d Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus        
Pomacanthus sexstriatus      
Pomacentridae Amphiprion ocellaris      
  Amphiprion rubrocinctus      
  Abudefduf bengalensis  
Dischistodus darwiniensis
  Amblyglyphidodon batunae      
  Neoglyphidodon melas  
  Neopomacentrus filamentosus  
  Pomacentrus milleri      
Pomacentrus nagasakiensis
Mugilidae unidentified
Labridae Choerodon cyanodus  
  Choerodon schoenleinii      
Halichoeres nigrescens      
Scaridae Scarus ghobban        
Scarus sordidus        
Opistognathidae Opistognathus sp.
Blenniidae Meiacanthus grammistes        
Gobiidae Amblyeleotris sp.      
  Istigobius decoratus      
  Valenciennea muralis        
unidentified (several spp.)      
Acanthuridae Acanthurus grammoptilus  
Total no. species recorded 27 28 8 12 15

Table 4. Mollusc species recorded from sites visited at Cygnet Bay.

Station name Shenton Bluff reef Shenton Bluff lagoon Riddell Point White Rocks Front Beach/ White Rocks
Sampling time (minutes) 60 45 15 15 60
Family Station no.
CB1 CB2 CB3 CB4 CB5

Species
Cardiidae Tridacna squamosa
  Acrosterigma spp.        
Pteriidae Pteria penguin      
  Pinctada margartifera
Isognomonidae Isognomen isognomen
Pectinidae Chlamys sp.      
Ostreidae Saccostrea cucculata    
  Saccostrea echinata      
Mytilidae Septifa bilocularis
  Xenostrobus sp.        
Pinnidae Pinna deltoides    
Trochidae Trochus pyramis    
  Trochus hanleyanus      
Chitonidae Acanthpleura gemmata    
  Acanthpleura spinosa    
Nassariidae Nassarius dorsatus        
Melongenidae Syrinx aruanus        
Strombidae Strombus urceus        
Vermetidae Surpulorbis sp.        
Littorinidae Littoraria cingulata        
Cerithiidae Pseudovertagus aluco        
Marginellidae Marginella sp.        
Haminoeidae Atys cylindricus        
Discodorididae Discodoris boholiensis        
Total no. species recorded 11 14 7 5 17

Table 5. Hard coral species recorded from sites visited at Cygnet Bay. (NB. no photographs taken at CB5).

Station name Shenton Bluff reef Shenton Bluff lagoon Riddell Point White Rocks Front Beach/ White Rocks
Sampling time (minutes) 60 45 15 15 60
Family Station no.
CB1 CB2 CB3 CB4 CB5

Species
Acroporidae Acropora aspera      
  Acropora microphthalma      
  Acropora muricata    
  Acropora samoensis  
  Acropora spicifera        
  Isopora brueggmanni    
  Montipora digitata  
  Montipora stellata
Dendrophylliidae Turbinaria frondens      
Turbinaria peltata      
Faviidae Cyphastrea serailia
Favia veroni      
Fungiidae Heliofungia actiniformis  
  Herpolitha limax
Sandalolitha robusta
Merulinidae Hydnophora exesa
Mussidae Lobophyllia hemprichii
Pocilloporidae Pocillipora damicornis    
Seriatopora hystrix    
Poritidae Porites lutea    
Siderastreidae Psammocora contigua        
Total no. species recorded 13 4 5 2

Table 6. Soft coral species recorded from sites visited at Cygnet Bay. (NB. no photographs taken at CB3, CB4, CB5).

Station name Shenton Bluff reef Shenton Bluff lagoon Riddell Point White Rocks Front Beach/ White Rocks
Sampling time (minutes) 60 45 15 15 60
Family Station no.
CB1 CB2 CB3 CB4 CB5

Species
Alcyoniidae Sarcophyton sp.        
Lobophytum sp.    
Nephtheidae Nephthea sp.
  Chromonephthea sp.
  Capnella sp.
  Stereonephthya sp.
Dendronephthya sp.
Xeniidae Xenia sp.
Melithaeidae unidentiifed
Gorgoniidae Rumphella sp.  
Hicksonella sp.      
Total no. species recorded 9 5

Figure 1

A map of Cygnet Bay

Cygnet Bay
Image copyright WA Museum 

Figure 2: Cygnet Bay Sponge Figures

A red sponge anchored to the sea floor

Ianthella basta
Image copyright WA Museum 

A pink sponge anchored to the sea floor

Clathria (Thalysias) reinwardti
Image copyright WA Museum 

A grey sponge anchored in shallow waters

Cymbastela stipitata
Image copyright WA Museum 

A yellow cup-like sponge

Rhabdastrella globostellata
Image copyright WA Museum 

Figure 3: Cygnet Bay Fish Figures

A large heart shaped tropical fish

Chaetodon aureofasciatus
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large fish swimming through the ocean

Choerodon cyanodus
Image copyright WA Museum 

A small tropical fish swimming through a coral reef

Amblyglyphidodon batunae
Image copyright WA Museum 

A black and white stripy fish in a coral reef

Dischistodus darwiniensis
Image copyright WA Museum 

A yellow and purple fish on a coral reef

Pomacentrus milleri (adult)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A blue and yellow fish swimming through a coral reef

Pomacentrus milleri (juvenile)
Image copyright WA Museum 

Figure 4: Cygnet Bay Mollusc Figures

A collection of shells on the shore line

Strombus urceus
Image copyright WA Museum 

A conch shell on a sandy beach

Nassarius dorsatus
Image copyright WA Museum 

A conch shell on the beach with a striking yellow area

Syrinx aruanus
Image copyright WA Museum 

A red mollusc washed up on the sea shore

Serpulorbis sp.
Image copyright WA Museum 

A giant blue clam

Tridacna squamosa
Image copyright WA Museum 

Figure 5: Cygnet Bay Hard Corals Figures

Close up view of coral heads

Acropora aspera
Image copyright WA Museum 

An exposed mound of hard corals on the sea shore

Seriatopora hystrix
Image copyright WA Museum 

A mound of brown brain-like corals

Lobophyllia hemprichii
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large spiky formation of corals

Acropora muricata
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large branched coral formations

Psammocora contigua
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large mound of corals

Pocillopora damicornis
Image copyright WA Museum 

Coral steam with many polyps

Turbinaria peltata
Image copyright WA Museum 

Figure 6: Cygnet Bay Soft Corals Figures

A small formation of corals

Xenia sp. (Xeniidae)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A mound of yellow-green coral

Lobophytum sp. (Alcyoniidae)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A soft coral growing off the edge of a rock

Capnella sp. (Nephtheidae)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large, red coral formations

Dendronephthya sp. (Nephtheidae)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large branched coral formation

Rumphella sp. (Gorgoniidae)
Image copyright WA Museum 

A large branched coral formation on the sea floor

Hicksonella sp. (Gorgoniidae)
Image copyright WA Museum