Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Moments of Tanah Merah

Today Ginny, Dennis and I spent some moments at Tanah Merah shore after sunset.

There were already some beachgoers when we arrive but they left promptly when the darkness sets in.

To our surprise, there are many Button snails (Umbonium vestiarum) on the sand bar.

A closer look reveals their intricate patterns and colours. It is said that no two of them looked the same.

The snails are alive with bit of their foot sticking out.

They can see with their eye stalks!

And their foot extends out for movement.

Button snails were highly abundant in Singapore in the 1960's, but populations have declined drastically as their habitats have since become degraded or were lost. They are now listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. Trampling by careless visitors and overcollection can also have an impact on local populations.

If there are button snails, there should have sand stars (Astropecten sp.) that predates on the snails.

And they do zip across the sandflat with their tube feet movement to find button snails to eat. Cool isn't it.

Sadly, we saw a large painted sand star that is injured.

While overturning to check for its underside, it is still heartening to see it being able to turn back to the right side rather quickly. Hopefully it will regenerate its lost arm.

This shore is also special because it has many living Cake sand dollar (Arachnoides placenta) and they create these markings when moving.

This is the upper side of the sand dollar.

And the underside reveals its mouth at the centre.

There are also hermit crabs dominating used shells from dead snails.

The spiral melongena is responsible for this yellow zipper-like egg capsules that are often encountered on rocks and other hard surfaces. The young hatch as miniature snails with a shell and a foot.

I managed to see this only anemone on the sand.

But it was interesting to find another anemone attached to a dead moon snail shell. It is very pretty!

Before leaving, I saw the wordings of the beachgoers marked out on the sand: "The love of God". Isn't this so nice! :-)

It is His love that sustains me throughout my life.

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