Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Bash at shores of East Coast

It's my birthday and it also coincides with the lowest possible tide of the year! And I was greeted with many of my all-time favourite marine organisms partying on today's trip, which far exceeded everyone's expectation.

We first checked out the legs of Bedok Jetty and were surprised to find good growth of marine life including this large pink sea fan with THREE basket stars!

Here is a closer look at the Basket stars (Family Euryalidae) on the pink sea fan.

They are even found on more sea fans and are quite actively shifting themselves while keeping attached to where they are found.

The basket stars are closely related to brittle stars. The arms are divided repeatedly to form a network of smaller branches, and spread out like a basket to catch plankton from the currents. Similar to brittle stars, their mouths are on the underside (shown on the right).

Though east coast park is a reclaimed shore, marine life does and can creep back over time and this is clearly shown on the crowded colourful encrustations on the jetty legs.

Also found attached on the jetty leg is this fabulous Feather star (Order Comatulida) and there are apparently three commensal brittle stars living with it! You can only see the black one in this photo as I sorely missed looking at the pretty white one underneath the feather star, only to find out from others much later.

This is the black brittle star that was found together with the feather star!

Also found is this pink and blue brittle star that we have seen on our southern reefs.

My wish has been answered as I finally get to have a look at the Hypselodoris kanga nudibranch after trying to find it for all these years. Woohoo! We found three of them!

I took a quick look at outside the seawall where it used to be crowded with lots of Sea fans or Gorgonians (Order Gorgonacea). There are still some sea fans but is a shadow of its former glory.

This was how it looks like from a post from July 2009. I am thinking that the diminishing of sea fans could be due to the works on the shore that has taken place over the past couple of years. 

This is another look a typical rock found outside the seawall on this morning's trip.

And this is how it looks like back then in 2009. I will be checking the other stretches of East Coast tomorrow to see how if the sea fans are doing fine.

Nevetheless, there are still quite a number of sea fans still existing on the seawalls of East Coast and here's a collage of some of them.

Living on the branches of the sea fans are commensals such as Tiny colourful brittle stars (Ophiothela danae) and the Spindle or False cowrie snails (Family Ovulidae).

This Pimply Sally-light-foot crab (Plagusia squamosa) is a lot less commonly sighted as compared to the Sally-lightfoot crab (Grapsus albolineatus).

We quickly swung by another stretch of East Coast shore since today's low spring tide is long so as to check out the shore that we have last seen at August 2008. This shore used to be sandier back in June 2007 and May 2008 but it got "thrashed" by some unknown reason as it became silty and muddy with very little life.

When we checked out the shore today, we were taken back to see how well it has recovered over 5 years! In fact there were lots of seagrasses! :)

Amazingly, there are MANY six-armed version of the Eight-armed sand star (Luidia maculata)! Wow... I don't even see so many of them on Changi.

Here's a look at the sea star without the silt on top of its body. Looks very pretty with the hands on its arms.

And finally, I got to see a real eight-armed version of the eight-armed sea star. And the oral disk of this individual is bigger than half of my palm! Unfortunately, this sea star has 7 injured arms!

A first sighting of this Luidia sand star (probably Luidia hardwicki) outside of Changi and Chek Jawa! 

For an echinoderm lover like me, I am super high to see so many sea stars even on reclaimed shores. More sea stars include this Painted sand stars (Astropecten sp.).

And also a small bluish Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera)!

A reminiscence of the Lost Coast at Changi East, we found two of these Fig snails (Ficus variegata) that has a pinkish body and pear shaped shell.

There are also many more adult-sized Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) on this shore as compared to 2007 and 2008.

Indeed, this is a good example of how life can creep back on shores if they are left alone. And once the seagrasses establish themselves on the shore, a lot of more other marine life will also be found in this nursery of life.

There are also some parts of the shore that are more rocky in nature.

And that is where we find other types of marine life such as this Carpet eel blenny (Congrogadus subducens) coming out from underneath a rock.

There's even this sea cucumber that looks like the Long black sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) that are common on reefs of southern shores. 

The White sea urchins (Salmacis sp) are also another new additions to this reclaimed shore.

Rene was looking at what lies underneath rocks and this Octopus (Octopus sp.) came out showing how it can change colours rapidly.

What an awesome start to a special day! East Coast never fails to surprise us and I look forward to check out yet another stretch of this long reclaimed shore tomorrow. :)

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