Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sand star transect at Pasir Ris

Yesterday I was with a team of friends who came to Pasir Ris to help me with my sand star transect. Some of us were early and we saw the WaterFest Jet Jam 2008 going on at Pasir Ris.

There were some tentages set up at the very high shore for this event.

And off the coast, there are indeed jet skis enjoying the water sports.

They even have a mini jetty or pontoon stretched out from the beach.

Just less than two months ago, news reported of the poor water quality at Pasir Ris. The National Environment Agency (NEA) has issued an advisory that cautions against swimming, wakeboarding and waterskiing in the waters there because of “high bacteria content” specifically, the enterococcus bacteria found in human and animal waste.

This WaterFest event has proven to show that water activities can still go on. Indeed, the sea and the shore is an attractive place for people to have different recreational activities. To make our shores sustainable and accessible for the long run, it is important for us to keep it in good shape.

As individuals, we can make a difference even in small ways: don't litter, don't pick marine creatures home, don't leave a mess behind etc. And hopefully, the sources of pollution (if any) will be detected in the future in order to improve the water quality of the sea surrounding Pasir Ris.

In this way, we can continue to enjoy these places of recreation.

Of course for my friend and I, we love the shores because its alive! I have a group of friends with to survey the sand stars on the shore. After some preparation with the equipment, we quickly make our way down to the shore to catch the low tide.

We saw many leaves moving very quickly and my friends were intruiged! I overturned the "moving" leaves and they found out that there are leaf porter crabs underneath which is mainly for camouflage. During the day, it hides in soft mud, with the leaf above. However at night, it swims upside down at the surface, the leaf hiding it from aquatic predators.

I encountered carpet anemones that look harmless. However, they have stinging cells that can stunt animals like crabs and fishes. When captured their prey, the tentacles will bring the "food" to the centre where the mouth is to eat its meal.

The shore was also made colourful with different sponges and anemones.

It was interesting to encounter a snapping shrimp that is green in colour. When my friend Wei Ann first saw the snapping shrimp, he told me he saw a lobster. Haha. :-)

Soon, we started our transect, mainly to study their density and natural occurences of damaged arms. And yes, there was no time to take any photo of us at work but believe me, we worked hard because there were many sand stars!

Among the many sand stars we came across, I think for the first time I see this six-armed sand star. We also found a four armed one that was not four armed because of damage. That's really cool!

In all, it's fun to see them excited and exclaiming whenever they find a sand star. They go shouting "Starfish!". Thanks a million to Ginny and her sister, Lester, Bingquan, Kian Wah, Wei Ann, Geraldine and Yvonne for taking time out to help my project.

The shore at Pasir Ris though was reclaimed, is indeed alive. Hopefully if left untouched and given more time, this shore will be livelier and the amount of life may start to be comparable to well known places like Chek Jawa and Changi.


alicesg said...

Beautiful nature. Always amazed at the beautiful photos in your blogs. Could you kindly tell me when is the best time to go in the evening for the low tide to look at these natures. Is the beach near safra tanah merah rich with these creatures? Thank you.

Unknown said...

Hi Alice, nice to hear from you again. :-) You can check out the NEA tide tables at their website and look for the lowest tides of the months to go out. The Tanah Merah shore has marine creatures as well, though it might be a slightly different assemblage of animals. Have fun!

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