Thursday, August 20, 2009

New East Coast shore = New surprises

Continuing from yesterday's long march at East Coast, today we covered another new stretch of Singapore's longest shore. And this rocky shore is home to many new surprises!

The best surprise must be this Batik tailed slug (Philinopsis sp.)! I've not seen it before on our shores though the others had. Never did I expect to find it at East Coast. Of course, this slug was found by our slug lady, Chay Hoon!

Another first time sight for me will be the Banded-leg swimming crab (Charybdis annulata). This pretty crabs have legs with alternating bands of dark brown and bright blue.

While exploring this new stretch of rocky shore, we noticed quite a number of small Pink flowery soft coral (Family Nephtheidea) growths.

Larger sized ones are also found and if you look closer, there are tiny animals living on the flowery soft coral.

That includes a hermit crab clinging onto the soft coral as well as the super gorgeous Soft coral false cowrie (Family Ovulidae). Their shells are white with three blotchy orange bars while the pretty mantle is transparent with irregular blotches.

Chay Hoon told me that people go all the way to Manado to see these cowries on soft corals, not knowing that they reside at our doorstep!

There are also hard corals on the shore. The Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata) (on the left) predominates but I also managed to see a tiny patch of probably Pore hard coral (Porites sp.) in green (on the right).

Three flatworms were spotted and all of them belong to the same species: Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.). This flatworm is probably the most common species in Singapore!

While looking among and underneath rocks, it was entertaining to look at Snapping shrimps (Family Alpheidae) as it labouriously dig its burrow. This snapping shrimp seems to be sharing its burrow with a brittlestar.

At the silty parts of the shore, anemones abound in numbers though they are small and rather transparent. Most are probably the Banded bead anemones.

I particularly like this shore because there are many of my most favourite phylum: Echinoderms!

Though I am more well versed with the echinoderms, many of them have yet been unidentified just like this sea cucumber.

And this was the huge brittlestar that seems to be living among the snapping shrimps I mentioned earlier. Can you spot two of those shrimps in this photo?

Another surprise from this shore must be the three Spiny sea stars (Gymnanthenea laevis) I've found on this shore. And this particular star is probably the largest I've seen of this species.,

Sometimes we name this star as the Orange-tipped sea star because of the orange fringes on the tips of their arms (left). On the right shows the oral surface where the mouth is located at the centre. Each plate on the underside has a huge bivalved pedicellaria (pincer-like structures).

Sometimes, the tip of the arms of the Spiny sea star is not exactly orange fringed. This makes identification a bit harder if you use orange tips as a distinguishing factor.

And surprise surprise.... there are Feather stars (Order Comatulida) on this shore! They are not exactly common on mainland though we are starting to see them at Changi. But to see it at East Coast is quite a treat, we saw it once at another stretch before too.

And not only did we find one or two, but three of them! Here are the other two feather stars sighted today.

Ok, what's this? These transparent blobs are probably jellyfishes!

Last but not least, East Coast is home to pretty Sea fans or Gorgonians (Order Gorgonacea). On the rocky shore, the sea fans are not as extensive as the ones behind seawalls.

There are yellow ones as well as white ones. When submerged, their individual animal or polyp is extended outwards.

I went back to one of the seawalls I've explored the previous time to check out the sea fans and they are fortunately still there. Though the tide was not good enough to see their full glory.

This is one rare sea fan that was not submerged and I could take a photo when the waves goes out momentarily. Only when I came home then I realized there is a Segal's spindle cowrie (Cymbovula segaliana) attached onto the sea fan as seen from this photo.

Well, our longest shore in Singapore is not entirely dead nor it is super exciting as our natural reefs or shore. Given time, we can expect better flourishing state of marine life to come back only if we do not disturb or impact the shores.

I hope your impression of East Coast Park has changed with all the recent posts on this reclaimed land. The tons and thick growths of sea fans just amazes me! Since this week is the last super lows of the year, we'll probably bid goodbye to this shore before we revisit it next year!

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