Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Checking out Kranji

I admit I'm not really a mangrovey person but somehow, there will be some interesting creatures that will eventually lure me into the soft mud. After reading about the pretty Mangrove Leaf Slugs (Elysia bangtawaensis) from Ron's blog, I decided to head down to have a look at them too!

After visiting Sungei Buloh so many times, I get to set foot on Kranji Nature Trail for my first time yesterday with the company of the double-James. Haha! I was first greeted with a short stretch of boardwalk.

And soon, most, if not all of the trail consists of a natural path.

With Chay Hoon's warning of crocodiles, we were a bit more alert of the dangers around us. The signboard serves as a additional reminder as well.

On the higher ground, there are quite a number of seashore pandans.

Heading downwards, we noticed Kranji Nature Trail is surrounded with thick and pristine mangroves.

There were also quite a number of the mud lobster mounds though their occupants- mud lobsters were not sighted.

I went down into the mangroves for a short while and there were quite a number of critters such as this nerite and also several different kinds of crabs.

Dotting the mangroves with their bright orange colours are these very tiny Red berry snails (Assiminea sp.).

And viola! We get to see many of these Mangrove Leaf Slugs (Elysia bangtawaensis). From far, they do look like freshly fallen leaves on the puddles of water.

In closeup, these slugs are very pretty. The body is speckled with white dots and fringed with larger yellow dots. This leaf slug looks similar to the Ornate leaf slugs (Elysia ornata) we see on our shores and reefs.

This is an Onch slug (Family Onchidiidae) which Ria named as Ornate onch slug.

This onch slug has an ornate texture and also a bright yellow underside!

Moving towards the shoreline, there were huge green mats. Are they cyanobacteria, seaweeds or seagrasses?

Ah! They are seagrasses, and these are actually the Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii) that are listed as 'Critically Endangered' on the Red List of threatened plants of Singapore. However, we recently noticed these seagrasses are quite common on our northern mangroves.

Peeking over the Johor Straits, we released that Kranji is quite near to Johor.

The shoreward side of Kranji has many of these ancient Mangrove horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscopius rotundicauda). The Horseshoe crab is not actually a true crab and is more closely related to spiders.

When flipped over, these horseshoe crabs can use their tail to flip themselves back to their original upright position.

After struggling out of the soft mangrovey parts facing the sea, we went to another stretch of shore that is slightly more firm. And there were many people digging the sand for something.

After taking a peek, I realized they were finding for clams. We witnessed how easy it was to find them, just have to dig a bit of the sand and sieve through them to search for the clams. I hope that the harvesting of these clams are sustainable and not overly done that it will affect the ecosystem.

One of the few anemone species, and probably the prettiest among all, will be this mangrove anemone.

There are also plentiful of these tiny bristleworms on the sand and mud. They probably are great snacks and food for shore birds, especially migratory birds that rest and recharge in Singapore during winter period.

On the rocks and dead logs are encrusting snails such as these drills.

Hiding in a crevice is this Thunder crab (Myomenippe hardwickii).

James, with his keen sense of looking for small things, found quite a number of these weird tiny blob-like anemones. They look alien-like to me with their spots on the black body column.

And here's another anemone he found that we have also seen before elsewhere. This one has dark orange lines radiating out from their mouth in the centre. I have no idea what they are.

It was nice to travel a bit further to explore Kranji for the first time. Too bad we didn't have time to look for the rare Bakau mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesii). Read Ria's blog for this special mangrove tree!

More photos of the trip here:

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