Save in matters of language, my duck is rather lame with colours, so shades like auburn, cerise, magenta, maroon, russet don't register at all, although teal does strike a bell. And so too mauve, now that I am forced to recognise this hue which tips the tentacles of a rather expansive anemone on Semakau. Cradled amongst a chunk of coral close to the edge of the reef flat, the cnidarian consists of a swirling mass of long tentacles that rippled lazily in the final moments of daylight. Like the folds of a Hutt, the leathery column protrudes from beneath the oral disc, revealing a surface pock-marked by pale warty bumps which are adhesive verrucae that stick to the substrate or grab hold of slow-poking fingers.
Based on these characteristics, Dr. Tan Swee Hee of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research suspects the creature is Heteractis crispa, a species once thought to be locally extinct until recent sightings at Semakau and Changi. There were no associated clownfish in sight, and in any case, the two local species known to inhabit the anemone have not been sighted in the intertidal zone as far I know. Dr. Tan also suggests that I touch the bumps on the column to determine if they were sticky, in order to confirm that it isn't a species with similarly sinuous tentacles. But having been poked and bitten by one too many bugs both big and small in recent days, my duck wasn't in the mood to test what was left of his soft and tender hide, especially as the rest of the team were just tiny spots of torchlight on the far side of the shore, leaving this bird alone in the dark with naught but a prickly star to feather his thoughts of you.