Friday, August 21, 2009

More living corals at Tanah Merah

After getting distracted by the new stretch of sandy shore, we finally set foot to where the living corals can be found. As previously blogged, Tanah Merah is probably the best shore to find corals in mainland Singapore.

And we are amazed at the number of corals and their growth size found on this shore! At the beginning, there were quite a number of different types of the Pore corals (Porites sp.). They can come in boulder shape and branching forms.

Good thing is that Yan Xiang was around. She is doing research on corals so identification was made easier with her around. :-)

An interesting colony of the Pore coral has purple sponge and ascidians living among the coral. This is probably my first time seeing such a growth!

More branching corals abound on the rocks. The coral colony on the right is Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.).

This is probably the Crinkled sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.). We usually also see this coral in our southern shores.

Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.) are very pretty when submerged because their extended polyps and tentacles sway gracefully in the water.

The Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) has tall, distinctive star-shaped corallites. Like the Anemone coral, the polyps of the Galaxy coral may also produce very long sweeper tentacles (up to 30cm). This can act to clear the surrounding area of competiting corals and other animals

More corals include the encrusting Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata) that looks brown and biege on top as well as the Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) on the bottom of the photo.

Unlike most southern shores where growth of the Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.) is scarce, those at this Tanah Merah shore are just extensive.

This plate-like coral that this greenish brown in colour is probably the rather rare Bracket mushroom hard coral.

However, I don't know what this plate-like coral is and had forgotten to ask Yan Xiang for its identity. It doesn't seem to have distinguishing lines or ridges.

Talking about lines and walls, the circular mushroom corals have their upper surface with thin walls radiating from the centre where in some cases the walls are 'toothed'.

Once in a while, we get to encounter huge massive Favid corals (Family Faviidae) that can be bright green in colour.

On this particular faviid coral, there are tube-like brown structures growing out from the coral surface. James and I were puzzled and we thought they look like tubes of the tubeworm while Yan Xiang thinks they are sponges.

Last but not least, among all the coral is this colony that I am still not too sure of its identity. Well, once again there's lots of room to improve on coral identification. :-)

Where there are corals, there are of course other coral associates that live among the habitat.

Such as this pretty and rather docile Fan-bellied filefish (Monacanthus chinensis).

Crabs spotted include the Swimming crabs as well as the Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus). Unfortunately, one red egg crab and a horseshoe crab was trapped in a drift net that was irresponsibly left on the shore. We later rescued them.

Another of the Arabian cowrie (Cypraea arabica) was found again among the corals!

The top find of the day must be this unknown sea cucumber found by James beneath a rock. I have never seen this sea cucumber before!

And the underside looks distinctly different from its upperside. I wonder what it is. Could it be a new record for Singapore?

James backed out the exploration halfway today due to the unstable rocks and slippery foothold that we have to balance nonstop. The corals here are indeed rather treacherous to look at but its all worth it! Today was the first time we all explored the corals without daylight. With one hand holding the torch and the other hand trying to keep balance, it was really hard to move around.

The next time we will return to look at the corals here will probably be next year when the super low spring tide returns for the next annual cycle.

More of today's photo on this shore at my Flickr page.

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