Friday, December 24, 2010

Punggol shore surprises

After the recce trip to Punggol last week on a low neap tide, I finally set foot on the intertidal shore of Punggol shore on a low spring tide. Though the tide is not exactly that low, there were much to be seen, with several surpises!

The first surprise when I reached the foot of the jetty was the very clear waters! I could see end of the jetty with such good visibility. This is something that we don't really expect on our murkier northern shores.

The legs of the jetty are also full of life such as the colourful encrusting sponges, hydroids and several small crabs.

James, with his keen eyes, pointed out to these tiny anemones that have bright lines radiating on the body column. They are very common and yet also very pretty!

We had a look at the area where there were many Green mussels (Perna viridis), which I first saw during my first trip. Later during the trip, we came across someone harvesting the mussels. I'm not sure if they are safe for consumption, given the ports are just right opposite.

This part of the shore supports is quite low in species diversity but high in species abundance! That simply means there are few kinds of animals but lots of numbers of these animals.

I came across many holes on the side of the rock. At first thought to be casts of worms, they are actually Encrusting snails (Vermetus sp.) after I learnt of their identity on Siyang's post. They have an operculum or trap door near the end of the hole. I have not seen this on other shores before!

Henrietta like cowries and she spotted this Ovum cowries (Cypraea ovum)!

And slowly, we started to come across many of these Black sea urchins (Temnopleurus toreumaticus). I have not seen them for some time because I thought they are seasonal. I guess they feed on the nest mussels on the rocks.

That's about what were worth mentioning on this stretch. Or so I thought that Punggol was just not too exciting like the other northern shores beyond Pasir Ris.

I was so wrong when we saw this other stretch. It was tiny, but is full of life!! The whole shore was littered with colourful marine life such as blobs of ascidians, sponges, seaweed and hydroids.

There were also many Feathery seaweeds (Caulerpa taxifolia) scattered over the shore. The makeup of this shore resembles a bit of the coral rubble of Sekudu, though is not as rich as the latter.

As mentioned, there were lots of blobs which we thought are ascidians. Here is one that is dark green in colour. Beside it is a fat Rock star (Asterina coronata). This were their natural positions and I thought this shot looks really cute, with the two fat creatures side by side. Can you spot the brittlestar on the top as well? :-)

There are so so many different species of colourful sponges on the shore! I'm quite amazed at such a diversity on a mainland shore.

Many of the sponges are riddled with Brittle stars.

And soon, we found out that the shore is home to many brittle stars!! Wow.

This is probably the Upsidedown brittle star (Ophiothrix sp.). It has a pinkish disk. This brittle star with an odd preference to be upside down is sometimes seen among seaweeds. This may be an adaptation to feeding on substances on the water surface.

Another group of marine creatures found all over the sure, if you look close enough, will be many of these anemones. I'm not too sure of their identity though.

How nice to come across two patches of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis).

While I was looking closer at some of them, I realised their blades are quite narrow and long. Could they also be Halophila decipiens?

James found this Three-spined toadfish (Batrachomoeus trispinosus). They are ambush predators are usual lurk in hiding for passing prey.

Underneath rocks, I came across some Hoof-shield limpets (Scutus sp.) which I also saw yesterday at Changi.

I especially like this bluish green Snapping shrimp (Family Alpheidae) underneath a rock with blue encrusting sponge.

Here are the top finds of the day! The first will be this pair of Rose nudibranch (Dendrodoris fumata)!

Second surprise will be the Bryozoans (Phylum Bryozoa). This is only my second time seeing them, the first was at Pasir Ris.

Bryozoans are colonies of minute individual animals which build a calcium carbonate casing around itself. Thus, they are hard which are unlike their lookalike moss or algae. Interestingly, a bryozoan compound is part of the drug bryostatin which is being tested as an anti-cancer drug.

The third surprise will be by James. I don't know how he ever spotted at first because they are real tiny!! These are actually sea spiders. They are not true spiders and live on eating sea sponges, bryozoans, cnidarians, and polychaetes. More about sea spiders on the Pulau Hantu blog.

Like almost all mainland shores, Punggol shore does faces human impact. There were people overturning rocks without flipping them back while trying to look for critters to collect or harvest. Sometimes, pollution does occur off the waters too. Work is in the progress in building the Punggol Promenade.

I think it is important for visitors on our shores to respect nature and not destroy them (directly or indirectly). Let's hope Punggol shore remains the way it is for a long time.

More photos of the trip here:

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