Friday, September 18, 2009

Fish haven at Tanah Merah

One month break from low tide trips gave me the withdrawal symptons. And finally, on our last couple of morning lows of 2009, we were back at our favourite Tanah Merah shore (less the sandflies). I must say this is probably the best shore in Singapore to do some fish-sightings.

The biggest fish surprise of the day is this huge Spotted-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus) that was spotted by James!

Frogfishes are interesting because they have a bait-like structure that lures smaller fishes or prey into the area their the mouth and before you know it, the frogfish will have its meal.

Collin was with us and he was glad to find many Estuarine seahorses (Hippocampus kuda) today!

In fact, a total of six seahorses including this pair. This figure is record setting for many of us on a single intertidal trip.

More different types of fishes seen on the shore include this Brown sweetlips (Plectorhinchus gibbosus). Why called sweetlips? It is because their lips swollen and thick especially in adults.

One of my own personal finds will be this Tripodfish (Family Triacanthidae). The fish does indeed have a tripod made out of a pair of long, rigid pelvic fins and the tail fin. In addition, it also has a stiff dorsal fin spine and stiff spines on the pelvic fins. It can raise all these spines to make it difficult for a predator to swallow it.

Another fish that I spotted will be this big sized Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus).

The coolest part of this flathead is definitely what seems to be their golden eyelashes. Haha. Those "eyelashes" are actually 6-9 skin tentacles over their eyes.

Tanah Merah has no lack of filefishes like this, yet again, huge Feathery filefish (Chaetodermis penicilligerus).

Yet again, this halfbeak-looking fish are quite often spotted throughout the trip. I have no idea what it is.

Near the seawall, I was delighted to know there's a patch of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Upon knowing that, I looked more closely in search of more life among the seagrass blades.

Indeed there were more life like this juvenile filefish that looks quite botak. Haha. We spotted more filefishes at other parts of the seagrasses as well.

Another fish found on the seagrass blade will be this Variable fang-blenny (Petroscirtes variabilis). This fish is known to scrape algae off broad seagrasses. That probably explains why it was found on top of the tape seagrass.

Stephen was with us and his mission was to film the squids! His wish was granted with lots of squids around for him to admire and photograph.

As for me, I always wish for more stars. And yes, my wish came true with a starry shore full of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). There are so many that I kind of felt I was in Cyrene Reef. Tanah Merah is probably the last mainland shore with a healthy population of the Common sea stars.

Most of the stars just looked rather beige and brownish in colour.

But I do like this particular one with some yellowish tinge on their aboral surface.

We also saw some stars with arm loss and this could probably be due to predators like...

the Flower crab (Portunus pelagicus). Haha.

Somehow for some reason, there were plenty of synaptic sea cucumbers (Family Synaptidae) around the rocky areas. We don't usually find these sea cucumbers on a mainland shore.

While among the seawall while exploring and avoiding potential stonefishes, I spotted this pretty Miliaris cowrie (Cypraea miliaris) which I've not seen for a while already.

There were no nudibranchs today. Weird... even nudi queen Chay Hoon didn't see any. A consolation for us will be this Batik tailed slug (Philinopsis sp.) that I spotted on the sand near the seawall. Haha, it's now my second time seeing it. The first time was on East Coast.

As their name suggest, you can suggest why they are called Batik slugs. Hahaha.

On almost every shore we visit, the most commonly found flatworm must be the Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.). But on this shore, we find an exceeding number of Persian carpet flatworms (Pseudobiceros bedfordi) for some unknown reasons again. Haha.

But our trip ended with a special flatworm find by Ria. This is probably the Starry flatworm (Pseudobiceros stellae) which I've only personally seen at Semakau before. It's body is brownish with small white spots all over.

Today's trip started early and ended during dawn.

Fortunately, I don't think I got any sandfly bites. Neither for Stephen I guess. He was really well geared!

Today was also my first time testing out my new camera. Unfortunately, I only realized after I got home that I used digital zoom instead of optical zoom for most shots. Grrhhh. That explains the photos not being the best it could be, though not really visible when resized. I still need a lot of time to fiddle with the functions. Let's see how my photos will turn out from tomorrow's trip. :)

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