Saturday, June 12, 2010

Changi- Still as charming as ever

It was worrying when we saw the news report that the oil spill hit Changi and Chek Jawa on 29th May 2010. Will our living northern shores be badly affected? During that period of low tides while I was at the southern shores, there were some concerned shore explorers who went to check these shores.

Finally today there was a chance to see how Changi shore is doing. And I'm happy to say that most of the marine life there looks normal as usual!

There were many juvenile Biscuit sea stars (Gonodiscaster scaber) all over the shore today! How exciting!

Though I only saw one of this Painted Sand star (Astropecten sp.) which is kind of expected since they are not so common, there were many Plain Sand star (Astropecten sp.) as usual!

Another different species of sea star found will be this juvenile Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera).

The most exciting starry finds will be the two baby Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)! This one is found by Mei Lin! It is about 6cm wide.

While Chay Hoon has a second surprise installed- this smaller knobbly sea star that is about 4cm wide. An interesting fact will be that this star is more greenish.

It seems to fit into the hypothesis that the younger the knobbly, the greener and less knobby it will be.

This is a greenish star that was found in May 2008 on the same shore. We think it is the knobbly sea star as it has features of knobs that are about to be formed, though not obvious in the photo.

So it could be true that knobbly seastars start off being completely green. Why green? Maybe being green helps the star to camouflage itself among the seagrasses since these stars usually start off living among seagrasses when they are young!

Changi is an echinoderm heaven. Not only can you find sea stars, there are also sand dollars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers etc.

One unusual observation made by Sam when he visited Changi during the oil spill week was the appearance of many of these Pink sand dollar (Peronella lesueuri) that we have never seen on this shore! This made us a bit worried because if the oil enters the substrate, animals may start coming up and out, which may explain for the appearance of weird creatures doing stressed moments.

Today, we saw about three of these special sand dollars.

Here's one that has bits and pieces of shells and stuffs on its upper surface. These sand dollars look completely healthy, so we think they are doing fine.

Another animal to look out for will be the burrowing ones. If they do badly, that may suggest that the sand and substrate of the shore is badly contaminated.

Our fears were diminished when we saw several different kinds of sea cucumbers looking healthy and fine. There were quite a number of these Remarkable sea cucumbers (Holothuria notabilis).

Another not so commonly seen sea cucumber that I found will be this See-through sea cucumber (Paracaudina australis).

The skin is thin and translucent so it's possible to see the double stripes of muscles along the length of the body and even its internal organs. It has short stubby feeding tentacles.

It was nice to have many of these Pencil sea urchins (Prionocidaris sp.) in season! They are one of the prettiest sea urchins we have in Singapore.

We have a couple of great flatfish finds this morning as well! This is a huge Peacock sole (Pardachirus pavoninus) that is really very pretty!

It has a pattern of circles that resemble eyes (a pale spot with a dark centre). This pattern of eyes possibly gives rise to its common name because the tail of a peacock also has a pattern of eyes.

I was thrilled to be able to see this Zebra sole (Zebrias zebra) for my first time! It is much smaller than the peacock sole.

Near its head, there are three spines sticking out. And its tail is very colourful with yellow and black bands.

As I took the photo of this Elbow crab (Family Parthenopidae), I didn't notice there was another crab just below! Is that second crab the female version? If yes, are they mating?

Mei Lin found probably the first record of the Hammer oyster (Malleus sp.) in the north! I think they are more common than we think, just that these oysters are well camouflaged.

Chay Hoon fulfilled my wish of seeing this Tiny black gymnodoris nudibranch (Gymnodoris sp.). It was terribly tiny and it was a challenge to take a photograph of this cute nudi that looks like it is wearing pyjamas.

I came across this Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata) that is encrusted on the surface of a log. It looks like it is doing fine.

There were only a couple of stressed up animals that we saw today, like this uprooted and pale Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni).

And this weird looking blob that we later, from its upside, realized it is also a stressed up Tiger anemone. It is not unusual to have a couple of stressed up animals.

Well, Changi is still as charming as ever! This is indeed a great relief. Hope our shores will continue to thrive and we as humans do our part to minimize all sorts of impacts on our living natural heritage.

More photos of other animals and the common creatures in my flickr page:

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