Friday, August 28, 2009

Tuas: Journey to the west

Tuas is home to an array of beautiful gardens at differents parts of the shore. It is also the only shore in the west that I've ever visited. Considering almost all of our western coastline have been urbanised or reclaimed, it makes me all the more think that Tuas is a very special shore.

At Merawang beacon off Tuas, we spent a short 20 minutes exploring marine life around there because the tide was already quickly coming back.

This pretty and rather large Snapping shrimp (Family Alpheidae) crossed my path and I took a closer look. Yes, they are the little creatures that make incessant pops that you hear in the shores.

I tried taking a look at the underside of a rock and I spotted two crabs. The brownish one is a Hairy crab (Family Pilumnidae) which we sometimes call it as the Teddy bear crab because of its hairs that look like fur. Beside the hairy crab is yet another crab!

Wow, it's actually a tiny crab with a white band across its carapace. I wonder if this is another kind of porcelain crab. I've never seen this before.

There are many mats of Button zoanthid (Zoanthus sp.) and I'm amazed how white sponges and other ascidians can live within the zoanthids. A good example of efficient space utilization.

Ok! We had to quickly return back to the shore beside the mainland before we get trap at the rocky outcrop at the beacon.

On the way back, I couldn't resist not looking at the flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidea) in the clear shallow waters. At the background is our Tuas 2nd link!

Sometimes, the flowery soft coral can be attached to the Fan clam (Family Pinnidae). Even the Orange sea cucumber is also doing that. Haha.

Tuas is the only shore where I observe and see so many of these Starry leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae). The colony is usually thick, disk-like with a highly ruffled edge. In some, there are many bulbous or short finger-like projections.

Tuas does sometimes remind me of Beting Bronok. Especially when there are many of the ball flowery soft corals around. Ria spotted a pretty false cowrie on one of these soft corals!

The ball flowery soft coral on the left photo looks more reddish and the soft coral on the right is probably the Pink flowery soft coral (Family Nephtheidea).

The Sponge synaptid sea cucumber is recently not commonly seen on our northern shores but I'm glad to find them here at Tuas. This particular one is found with what is probably the Yellow many-coned sponge (Spheciospongia sp.).

And another of the cucumber was also found on the Melted chocolate sponges (Chondrilla australiensis). I wonder why is the synaptic sea cucumber growing on the sponge. Is it feeding on the sponge? Hmmmm.

When submerged in water, the feathery tentacles of the Banded fan worm sway with the waves as they filter feed tiny "yummy stuffs" from the sea.

But the funniest worm, which does not look like a worm, must be this fan worm which looks like a flower with petal. Why is it funny? It is because it was rotating 360 degrees nonstop when we saw this worm. Hahaha.

The weather was scorching. I was not complaining, instead I was thankful to God because the weather forecast said thunderstorm. Hot weather is always better than thunderstorm.

At least we can take out our umbrella to shield ourselves from the sunlight, just like Mei Lin over here. Just that her umbrella a bit too gu-niang (ladylike) because it is filled with heart-shapes and bordered by laces. Haha!!

So what made Mei Lin so excited in this photo???

Oh it is this not-so-hairy Hairy crab that probably is a juvenile.

Her best find of the day must be this rare gigantic nudibranch (Actinocyclus sp.) that I always remember we call it as the giant onchidium which Tiong Chin remarked two years ago. However, onchs don't have feathery gills on their backs and are much flatter than this nudibranch.

Nevertheless, the underside of this nudibranch does really look like that of an onch. Haha!!

I later found two similar looking creatures that are actually the more common Hairy sea hares (Bursatella leachii).

A first record for Tuas: Spider conch (Lambis lambis)! James found it but he accidentally broke one spine when he held the conch with it. It is important to take extra care when handling animals.

Last but not least, I'm never bored looking at the not-so-common Laganum sand dollars (Laganum depressum). You can compare them to the more common Cake sand dollar (Arachonoides placenta) at the bottom right of this photo.

On the upperside (left) it is thick at the edges and at the centre, and thinner elsewhere, creating a shallow circular depression around the centre. The underside (right) has long spines and this is also where the anus is found.

Before leaving, I had a look at the nearby Pulau Merambong on the horizon. It belongs to Malaysia. And I noticed some form of house or kelong has been recently built on the shores.

While this photo of the island taken earlier during March didn't have the house or kelong.

Very quickly, the tide returned and that's the end of the Tuas trip as well as the series of low tide. Tuas is a fascinating special shore in the west. And we hope it remains this way, if not, better!

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