Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exploring secret shores of East Coast

Earlier this month, I had a 3-hr cycle throughout East Coast Park to search for secret shores of East Coast Park. How wonderful it is to be able to find a super low tide to explore these potential spots with a small team. And altogether, four shore locations were visited!

I first went alone to check out the rocky shore found previously. Indeed, the now extensive shore during low tide is a typical rocky intertidal area with crabs like this swimming crab (Thalamita sp.).

The swimming crabs come in all sorts of sizes and this one is particularly small.

Another small crab will be this Tiny under-a-stone porcelain crab (Family Porcellanidae) that usually hide beneath rocks.

This much larger crab looks like a thunder crab.

Encrusted on the rocks are sponges of different forms, shapes and sizes. This one is green.

And this in brown.

The only sea cucumber found attached on rock surface that I've encountered will be this Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis).

Lots of life are not found above rocks but underneath rocks. If you gently flip over to take a look, you will be amazed with the assemblages of life, but do remember to put the rocks back in original position after looking.

There are lots of snails as you can see in this photo.

In addition, anemones like this can also be attached to the rocks.

Same too for this top shell snail.

But I guess the most special of the "underneath rocks animals" will be this Hoof-shield limpet (Scutus sp.). Why is it special, it is special because Scutus unguis is listed as 'Endangered' on Red List of threatened animals of Singapore.

Moving on to location 2 with the super low tide, I joined Ria, James and Chay Hoon to witness what looks to be a proliferation of life encrusted on hard surfaces. Yes, there are lots of colourful sponges and hydroids!

I am not too sure if this stunning orange branching animal is a hydroid or a sea fan though.

But the best find of this location must be the Bornella nudibranch (Bornella sp.) found among the life that teems on the hard surface. It was a totally unexpected find by Ria!

On top of hydroids and sponges, there are also gorgeous sea fans of large sizes!

A closer look reveals what looks like yellow tiny drills on the surface of this large white sea fan.

On the skinny sea fans, a hermit crab was seen clinging.

Even the pretty Pink flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidea) can be found!

The most intruiging thing from this site will be many snails that had their shells infested with barnacles. I wonder why.

And that's not all, read Ria's wildshores post to find out more life from this special location.

Location 3 is a sandy shore with lots of glossy Olive snails (Family Olividae). They come in different patterns, some plain, some in zigzag.

Despite being an extensive sand bar, only one solo Cake sand dollar (Arachnoides placenta) was found by Ria.

As for me, I found this prowling Lined moon snail (Natica lineata) with its foot seemingly ready to do some prey hunting.

Unfortunately, we came across a drift net that trapped many Coastal horsehoe crabs (Tachypleus gigas). Sigh. We eventually managed to save a lot of these poor creatures by getting rid of the horrible entanglement.

Many more sightings of the living sandy shore creatures at Ria's wildshores post.

The last location is at the East Coast Lagoon where one can find lush patches of the Needle seagrasses (Halodule sp.).

Seagrasses are great habitats for snails to rest themselves on and for fishes to feed or hide.

More about the life on this lagoon on Ria's post at her Wildshores blog.

That was a very productive trip to look at four locations within a low tide window of three hour! And we were totally surprised to find that nature exists even on a reclaimed shore. Secret shores do exist in Singapore, so it is important to discover them before they are gone.

More about that day's trip in James' Singapore Nature blog.

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