Friday, June 17, 2011

Seahorse surprises at Punggol shore

Mei Lin and I checked out the tiny shore at Punggol end this morning. It is my first time on this shore on a super low tide and I wanted to see if the lower zone of the intertidal area is different from the mid zone that we have previously explored. Apparently, they are about the same!

Nevertheless, the morning low tides are great because lots of creatures are out in the dark. And we found FOUR seahorses! This is something that we can only expect on a good day at Changi beach.

Mei Lin and I each found two seahorses for today. All of them were the Estuarine seahorses (Hippocampus kuda). Mei Lin has sharp eyes as she spotted the tiny orange anemone near the tail and a shrimp near the eye.

Here is a closer look at the tiny shrimp near the eye of the seahorse!

This third find of seahorses is quite near to the second one.

On this trip, we came across so many of the Three-spined toadfish (Batrachomoeus trispinosus)! For the first time, I need not to flip rocks to find most of them.

This is a fatter toadfish with its face looking at me while hiding within a crevice.

There are many tiny critters on this shore. And that includes unknown anemones that litter the substrate.

As mentioned earlier, Mei Lin found this bizarre-looking sea anemone with an orange oral disk but transparent tentacles with a black stripe along the middle of each tentacle. It is super small lah!

There were many more unknown anemones among the shore including these two.

On this trip with a much lower tide, I could find more of these red sea anemones on the boulders in the deeper waters. They are much larger as compared to the previous few anemones.

This is how the anemone looks like in the water. I'm glad to be able to get a good shot of it today.

This shot shows the body column with dark maroon spots. We don't see this sea anemone anywhere else in Singapore. There is just so much that we have not discovered!

Not seen on my previous two trips here, I saw two of these Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni).

And also a few of these Cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia) were also found. Though the common name of this creature is peacock anemone, they are not true sea anemones.

Mei Lin found a rare moment where a fan worm was not burrowed within its tube. This is the first time I get to witness the worn component! Usually, what we see are the feathery feeding tentacles.

Both of us each found a Carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens).

I caught a pair of Swimming crabs (Thalamita sp.) in their mating position! Opps.

Near the deeper waters are many of these well camouflaged crabs. They are the Sea toad spider crabs (Schizophrys sp.).

What do we have here?! There is actually a crab! Yes, the Decorator crab (Camposcia retusa) is super well camouflaged. It has lots of seagrasses on its top and that really help in camouflaging itself among the seagrasses.

Here is another decorator crab that is not among seagrass. So it was easier to spot this fellow.

Mei Lin was looking out for the Banded hermit crabs and she found one with pink spots on its abdomen. Cute!

There are lots of Thunder crabs (Myomenippe hardwickii) but this particular one is stuck with fishing lines. Sigh. After cutting and releasing this crab, I realized it is pregnant with eggs!

In addition to the special seahorse finds, another top find would be this Beaded nudibranch (Hoplodoris nodulosa) that Mei Lin found! It is only my second time seeing it in Singapore and I did not expect to see it at Punggol.

Later on, I found this Volvatella slug (Volvatella sp.). It is a slug with a shell.

I took a photo of what looks like the Knobbly soft coral (Carijoa sp.). It was until I reached home to process the photo when I realized there was a shrimp and what looks like a slug! Wah... sorry Chay Hoon, couldn't have a closer look.

Towards the end of the trip, I had a brief look at the jetty legs. It was a pleasant surprise to find many Bryozoans (Phylum Bryozoa).

Hiding near the bryozoan is a Purple climber crab (Metopograpsus sp.).

On another jetty leg, there were two other purple climbing crabs "fighting"!

Our last seahorse sighting was actually below the jetty. It is a pretty one that is orangey brown in colour. Its tail was hanging onto a thick rope.

Sadly, I did not notice the fine-lined blue net nearby back then. I hope the seahorse will not be trapped! And that fishermen would be more responsible in not abandoning their nets or fishing lines. :(

We ended the trip with a power-failure sunrise but rather nice cloud forming over the sky. At least the weather was kind and there were no rain. The sandflies did not spare us though, especially when the air was quite still.

It was a bittersweet to know that though this shore has quite a number of interesting finds, it is also a place where people remove marine life in large numbers. I did not see a single Green mussels (Perna viridis) that used to be in many thousands on the boulders. Mei Lin witnessed lots of people scrapping the mussels earlier this year.

As for me, I saw people collecting sponges and other marine life on my previous trip too. Today, there were much lesser sponges despite that today's tide was lower! With the soon opening of the Punggol Promenade, I wonder what will the shore be like in the future. Therefore, it is important for us to have a look before even more impact hits this tiny and vulnerable mainland shore.

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