Thursday, August 6, 2009

Can't imagine it's Tanah Merah

It's August and another series of low spring tide has arrived! This time, we are out to another stretch of Tanah Merah and it is my first time visiting this portion of the shore. And to my amazement, the marine life here just simply rocks!

Who will imagine to find the Ceratosoma nudibranch (Ceratosoma sp.) on a reclaimed shore? Thanks to Chay Hoon's eagle eyes, we had the pleasure of seeing this handsome nudi.

Ceratosoma nudibranch absorbs the toxic chemicals in their sponge food and incorporate these chemicals into the mantle glands. When stressed, they will secrete some kind of whitish chemicals as well. Not sure if it is the same kind of chemicals as their food.

And another special nudi-bulous find by CH will be this Beaded nudibranch (Hoplodoris nodulosa). It is my first time seeing it! Wow. And I was just so overly focused on the nudi that I nearly missed all the life around it. Look closely at this photo....

Can you see a sea squirt, a goby, a barnacle/anemone and a shrimp? It's so cool to know that the shore is littered with lively miniscule critters.

Somehow, the shrimps crawled onto the nudi probably by coincidence. But it does remind us of the emperor shrimps. On the right is the underside of this nudibranch.

Not only did we spotted one or two nudi species, but THREE. James found the family of three Black prickly nudibranchs (Atagema intecta)!

Not only are there nudis, flatworms also reside at Tanah Merah. And I just love this Persian carpet flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi) found again by CH. I remember that Chee Kong jokingly named this species as the "Bet 4D" flatworm because of its species name "bedfordi".

As for me, I found this Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.) that is quite commonly on our southern shores.

Beside a rock, I noticed a series of sea squirts and some other unknown structures/lifeforms. Among which, there was yet another Spotted black flatworm. I wonder is it feeding on something.

Tanah Merah is never complete without the fishes that hide among the rocks of the seawall.

There are also mermaid's fan seaweed and among which, I was delighted to spot this Variable fang-blenny (Petroscirtes variabilis) which is probably also another first sighting for me.

Furthermore, I found and tailgated this beautiful Feathery filefish (Chaetodermis penicilligerus). This filefish is distinguished by thick feathery extensions all over the body.

That's not all, I almost missed this huge solefish that was very well camouflaged. I stood at this position for sometime and somehow many creatures appeared from this location!

That includes this Brown-spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax reevesii) which I only get to see at remote reefs like Beting Bronok. It's just a treat to also know that they are at Tanah Merah as well.

Again from the same location where I stood, a Bobtail squid (Suborder Sepiolida) swam across! Looking at this cute creature on a closeup, I just couldn't wait to thank and admire God for how pretty His creations are.

These squids are generally rather spherical with a pair of rounded fins that make them look a little like an aquatic version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant! Most are bottom-dwelling, burying themselves during the day and only coming out at night.

YET again from the same exact spot, a Velcro crab (Camposcia retusa) from the rocks. This is amazing, life is everywhere!

Moving onwards, James, CH and I had some brief moments of fun when a pack of squids swam near us as if they are checking us out. They are not too shy but unfortunately the waters were quite murky during that time for a better photograph to be taken.

There are many boulder-like corals growing on the rocks of the seawall and once in a while one can find other forms of corals like this Bracket mushroom hard coral.

Nearly hidden from sight and among rocks will be this couple of juvenile circular mushroom corals.

Proceeding to explore more of the rocks, I chanced upon this Wandering cowrie (Cypraea errones).

BUT the most happening cowrie find must be this one below by James.

Yes it is the huge Arabian cowrie (Cypraea arabica)! And its only my second time seeing it, the first was at Sultan Shoal.

Unfortunately, the Arabian cowrie is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore, due to habitat loss and overcollection.

How about crabs? There were lots of crabs including this brightly coloured Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus).

There are many swimming crabs and flower crabs among the sand but my favourite will be this
lovely orange-coloured Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus).

Echinoderm-wise, we saw three Synaptic sea cumubers among rocks and seaweed.

It was pleasant to have the first record of the Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra) at Tanah Merah.

There are just so many special finds today but one of the highlights will definitely be this Haekel's anemone (Actinostephanus haekeli) that has shrunk inwards when out of water. Ria saw another one further ahead that is more relaxed.

And towards the end of the trip nearer to the high shores, CH shared with us this another rare find of a pair of Estuarine seahorses (Hippocampus kuda) clinging on a straw! Somemore one is orange and one is black. Wah.... so pretty.

Time seemed to pass very fast today and the sunrise signalled the end of the trip. We were all satisfied and happy. It's unimaginable that this stretch of dead-looking reclaimed shore is home to a wide variety of marine life.

Just at the end before we headed back to the dry land, I bidded goodbye to this Horn-eyed ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus).

Tomorrow we will be back to explore more of this spectacular shore! Looking forward to it.

1 comment:

s.t.a.r.g.a.z.e.r said...

oh gosh! is this really tanah merah?! it's as though you were at some ulu offshore island! wish i could be there!

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