Saturday, June 7, 2008

Checking sand stars out at Pasir Ris

On the last day of my four sand stars recce trips, I have decided to take a look at Pasir Ris with Khairul, Liana, Ivan and Geraldine. It was quite a last minute decision so I really appreciate that they could come and give me support, especially Khairul who had to wait for the public transport to come.

Pasir Ris is a good spot to find sand stars (Astropecten sp.) as Ria had kindly helped me take a look at this location last Tuesday when the series of low tide just started. I thought I should see it for myself.

Here is a group photo of the team today. Though we are all sleepy, the lively shore kept us all excited.

And indeed, there are a lot of sand stars! The most I've found across my four recce trips.

We find them either out foraging during low tide, or semi-burrowed. However, those that have burrowed were out of our sight.

Today we hit a new record of 120 sand stars measured! Actually there are many more still, but I only brought along four datasheets. Also 120 recordings is also enough as well.

Very quickly after about an hour, we got some time to explore this new shore which was the first time for all of us visiting today. And wow, we saw many cake sea stars (Anthenea aspera)!

This medium sized cake sea star in particular is very pretty with yellow centre and red edges on its arms.

This is the oral surface of the cake sea star.

Here are more cake sea stars that we have found.

If you have noticed, cake sea stars are very interesting as they come in different colours, pigments and patterns. They are definitely one of my favourite sea stars. :-)

For some weird reason, we saw many dead catfishes on the high shore with markings on the sand. I'm quite sure it's done by some people. It's puzzling though

Ivan spotted an octopus, which quickly decides to burrow into a hole.

Usually we see peacock anemones either happily submerged in the water with its tentacles looking flowery or the tentacles shrunk into its body column when it is out of water. This one is weird as the tentacles are still out despite being out of water.

Crevices of rocks house many creatures like this black sea urchin (Temnopleurus sp.).

Soon, Geraldine found many mass gatherings of these black sea urchins, which was also brought up by Ria in her wildfilms blog. (Photo by Geraldine)

At the rocky surfaces, there were many zebra-coral-lookalike corals growing on it.

Sponges are also encrusted onto rock surfaces and they can come in different pretty colours and shades.

And yes, there are crabs that are called sponge crabs. This was spotted by Khairul as the moving rock from the top. It was so well camouflaged but its movement gave its presence away. I find its pink claws fascinating.

Flipping the crab over to see its underside, we can view it better without the sponge blocking.

Liana spotted a seahorse on the silty shore. Wow, four seahorse encounters in my four consecutive trips.

Soon, I also spotted another sea horse. It is really surprising to see Pasir Ris also have seahorses thriving in our seagrass beds.

The most starry find of the day will be this near-adult sized cake sea star. I guess its diameter should be about 10-15cm in length.

Not long after we started exploring the shore, the heavens opened and rain poured. Umbrella and ponchos were out since the rain started off not too heavy.

We continued exploring and I found this pot where there many blueish green sponges around it. If you look closer inside the pot, there is a starry surprise.

Yes, there is yet another juvenile cake sea star! This is a photo taken when I took it out to photograph on the seagrasses.

Its quite a cake-y day during the super low tide.

And one more cake sea star before you get an overdose looking at so many of them.

At small holes of rocks, you might even find rock stars (Asterina coronata) hidden within.

Despite the rain, there were people bringing their dog to wade in the sea. Liana was very excited to see the cute dog.

This dog was very happy running about on the shore and in the water.

However, the rain during this super low tide became much heavier later and we had to end the exploration and seek shelter.

Near the shelter we were seeking, we found this Banded Bull Frog (Kaloula pulchra)! It is not native and is known to have immigrant from West Malaysia during the 1800s. They are actually very commonly seen islandwide, especially after heavy downpour.

As we were waiting in the shelter for the heavy downpour to drizzle down, we came up with ingenious ways to save water to clean ourselves from the mud in our pants and booties. That include inverting umbrella and taking out the tray to collect rainwater which will later be used for washing up. Yeah, that's me drenched, yet "playing" with water. (Photo by Geraldine)

Poor sleepybunny Liana was so sleepy that she dozed off in her poncho in the shelter. I tried to take a photo of her sleeping but she woke up just on time to be caught in surprise.

Soon, we were all decided to leave earlier due to the rain though today's tide was low and long. Ivan was game enough to stay back solo to check out the shore after the rain.

And he found these sand stars, white in colour, a sign of distress! They were all doing very well before the rain, so I suspect the heavy downpour during a super low tide can sometimes be disastrous. (Photo by Ivan)

Ivan commented in his own words, "There were seriously a lot more. Some were half-buried, so they should have been alive until just recently, a lot were just sitting on the shore, others were being washed in with the tide. These 2 are representative of all the others I found; pale, not moving at all, tube feet not even twitching. Put them in the water, they just swirl around with the waves. So I guess they really are quite dead."

Indeed echinoderms are really sensitive to high salinity drops which is hastened when the tide goes out, exposing the shore to freshwater from the direct rain and the water drained from the land. I hope that most sand stars would have burrowed deep enough to avoid being affected and that they will be fine.

That's the end of my five consecutive low tide adventure this series, will be going Malaysia for church camp tomorrow. The tide will still be low on Sunday and Monday, so watch out for other blogs for their adventures. :-)

1 comment:

Castle Bath Body Spa said...

Your Pictures are indcredible!!!

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