Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tanah Merah: Hanging on and going strong

Marine life at our Tanah Merah shore is indeed resilient and they are slowly but surely recovering from the massive oil spill that happened last year during May. 

It was definitely a surprise for us to see this colourful nudibranch that I've only seen at our northern shores.

This Hypselodoris nudibranch (Hypselodoris sp.) with colourful and bright spots is probably Hypselodoris infucata. James originally found it underneath a rock!

Another type of nudibranch found will be this pretty Denison's nudibranch (Dendrodoris denisoni). 

Unfortunately, we also came across two other of the same species of nudibranch that looked diseased.

Here is a closer look at the weird looking version of the Denison's slug with parts of its body disintegrated into white body. I hope this is not a negative response to the oil slick that remains on the shore.

Another slug that we saw will be the Bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis) found by Ria.

Used to be very common on Tanah Merah, we have not seen the Persian carpet flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi) since the oil spill. Am definitely glad to find it again after its absence!

It is a good sign to see many Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). Some of the smaller ones could be Tiny carpet anemones (Stichodactyla tapetum) instead.

I found two Haddon's carpet anemones, each with a pair of pretty Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)!

This is the other anemone with shrimps.

Despite seeing these shrimps numerous times on our shores, I never fail to be amazed at the beauty of these creatures.

Have you ever wondered if these shrimps will eat the anemone? Anemone shrimps do not appear to eat the host anemone or off the anemone's fluids. Instead, they are believed to shelter in the anemone for protection and may feed on left overs.

Yes, the anemones do feed by stinging their prey with their tentacles. I managed to spot this anemone in the process of swallowing a tiny crab!

It is definitely good news to see many more Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) on the shore as compared to our previous trips!

Among the rocky parts of the shore, there were lots of molluscs comprising of snails and clams! Here is an assortment of what I saw yesterday.

A snail that intrigued me will be this what looks like a tiny version of a cowrie.

This is the first time I took more time to observe a tiny cowrie. After reading up a bit, I realized that a young cowrie has a short pointed spire on the end of its shell which will eventually be lost as it grows bigger. The spire is not obvious in the photo though.

Flipping rocks allow us to find more organisms that are sheltered from stress such as dessication and I found a group of tiny clams which I do not know of its identity.

More stuffs found underneath rocks include lots of Onch slugs (Family Onchididae).

I almost missed seeing this octopus until it exhaled water from its siphon. It was so well hidden inside a tiny crevice among the rocks!

The Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra) used to be quite common on this stretch of the shore. I only came across one yesterday.

Hanging on and still surviving on the oil slicked shores of Tanah Merah will be the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). Though the number of these sea stars have since dropped since the oil spill, they seem to be surviving and coming back slowly.

Sometimes, one can find them in weird number of arms, such as the four and six armed versions.

It was nice to once again see this well camouflaged Spider crab (Micippa philyra) that was last sighted at Semakau. I found two of them!

This spider crab has pretty green claws when seen from its underside.

James found this Spotted black hermit crab (Clibanarius cruentatus) among the bigger rocks and it is extremely shy and sensitive to light!

Usually we will find lots of fishes at Tanah Merah when it is dark. Since the low tide was before sunset, we did not find many of them during this trip. Nevertheless, we were treated to a sighting of the handsome Brown-spotted moray (Gymnothorax reevesii).

It is almost a ritual that we will sort of find at least one Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) every now and then when we visit Tanah Merah. Thank God none of us stepped on this guy.

We ended the trip just on time before the drizzle arrived. Hope this shore will continue to recover and regain its beauty!

More photos of the trip here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/koksheng/archives/date-taken/2011/12/12/

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