Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gorgeous gorgonians of Tuas

Finally back at Tuas! After a two year wait, I could finally take a look at Tuas again and this is made possible by Sheryl and Helen of Schering Plough. Thanks to Ria for bringing me along for this trip.

My previous visit was during Feb 2007 where I didn't have my own camera but burrowed a camera with died out battery at that time. The tide was quite high at that time and it was not possible to cross the sea to get to the side of the Merawang beacon where the corals and gorgonians (Order Gorgonacea) can be found.

However the two year wait was worth it!

After wading in seawater full of hydroids up till upper thigh level, I finally set foot on the rocky coral rubble at the Merawang beacon! Welcoming me is this really pretty sea fan.

This huge pink sea fan is the biggest sea fan I've ever seen and it is really gorgeous!

I attempted to take an underwater shot because most sea fans are at a perpetual state of being submerged. With the crashing waves and stirred up sediments, it was really hard to take photographs above water.

If you look closely, you can observe the sea fan, you can individual polyps. The whole sea fan is a colony of polyps, it belongs to the same phylum as corals and anemones. It is suggested that sea fan polyps have few or weak stinging cells and feed on particles tinier than zooplankton.

More wild facts of the sea fans here!

A last look at this pretty sea fan before I move on to explore other parts of this rich area.

All the below photographs were taken underwater, thus they look like photographs from a diving trip though I did not swim or dive. That's the cool thing about intertidal trips.

Other than that large sea fan, there are many other smaller ones submerged like this yellow colour sea fan. Gorgonian colonies usually take on branching forms, but the branching is only along one plane. Just as flat as a sheet of paper and not like a bush.

I adore this stunning red sea fan!

And you can see the individual polyps in white studded on the branching colonies of this red sea fan.

I also came across some sea fans like this orange sea fan that have their tips covered with sediments or epiphytes. Not sure if it is a good thing or not.

Here is another orange coloured sea fan.

Sea fans are known to carry or inhabit other creatures like tunicates, barnacles, clams, snails (such as the ovulids), tiny shrimps, brittle stars, hermit crabs and gobies according to the Wildfacts page. This one had a thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) on it! And interestingly, this thorny sea cucumber has a red blob on its pinkish body. How weird.

Suddenly, one of the Nparks friends called me and asked me what is the thing that look like a white rope.

When I went over, this was what I saw in the deep murky waters. It is a sea whip! It's my first sea whip encounter! And it is really like a white rope as it is thick.

Submerging my camera, I realized there are about four sea whips (two in this photo) around that area.

A closer look at this gorgonian reveals bumps on its cylindrical stem. Each bump should house an individual polyp which is not apparent here.

I love gorgonians and I don't know if you love them too for their beauty. However, gorgonians are becoming rarer to find in Singapore's intertidal shores after the wipeout at East Coast and flood over Beting Bronok. Changi still have gorgonians in deeper waters but it is not commonly seen. Perhaps one day we will only have to dive to see them if all the shores are one by one gone for coastal development.

I am so glad Schering Plough adopted this precious shore that was left untouched from reclamation. There's so much at Tuas that I've seen today and it will take a whole day to post everything at one go. I will think that separating in different posts will make my job easier and make the post more readable. Watch out this blog over the days for more posts on this fantastic shore.

1 comment:

Jia said...

Hi there, I was wondering how you got to Merawang beacon? I was at the raffles marina and the nearby area but was not able to get to the shore as the whole area was fenced up. I hope to hear from you soon as I am planning to catch the low spring tide tomorrow evening. Thank you!

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