Sunday, June 23, 2013

Changi Rocky shore is alive!

The shores of Changi are alive! The haze situation has caused us to abandon boat trips for mainland shores and it is great to check out some of our regular shores at super low tides.

At the minimum low tide, an underwater garden is exposed with crowded marine life on the shore ranging from sponges, ascidians, fan worms, corals and crabs.

On top of different types of sponges, there are also several Sea fans (Order Gorgonacea) like this red colony.

These beautiful and brightly coloured sea fand are usually found at the low water level mark and one can find more submerged underwater when the water is clear.

Living amongst these sea fans would be this Winged oyster (Family Pteriidae).

Here's a look at a large sea fan underwater when the water is miraculously clear in Changi. So clear that we can even see a fish and also (sigh) a red bull can.

This sea fan clinging onto the pillar is indeed very long! Looks like it is growing well!

More sea fans of various types, colours and growth.

On the rocky and silty shores of Changi, one can find lots of life nestled among each other like this whole gang of sea cucumbers, zoanthids and a Rock star (Asterina coronata)!

Here's an orange version of the Rock star that is less common than the dull ones.

Finally after much search, Ria showed me how to find these elusive Armoured sea cucumbers. They are indeed very well camouflaged with the environment and thus are easily overlooked. After developing the search image for this, we could find many many more on this trip.

This is another one with its mouth (with signs of feeding tentacles) on the left and anus (pointed protrusion) on the right.

The armoured sea cucumber has a very hard body that is sausage shaped with a very flat base. This is how it looks like with the silt washed off from its body.

Here's another cleaned-version of the sea cucumber that is more orangey or brownish. Don't you think they actually look decent?

The underside of this particular sea cucumber is prettier! Look at the neat rows of orangey tube feet that surround the edge and also the circumference of the sea cucumber with faints of pink.

Here's a closer look at the tube feet that secures the sea cucumber very strongly onto hard surfaces.

More special echinoderm finds include this six-armed version of the Eight-armed sand star (Luidia maculata) found by Mei Lin.

I was excited to find what probably is the Six armed sea star (Luidia penangensis)! This fellow has three of its six arms injured. This is only my second time seeing it, the first was at Chek Jawa in 2009.

All Luidia species have a tessellated arrangement of raised structures, known as paxillae, on their dermal plates that gives them an armoured, almost reptilian texture according to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore" book. If you were to take a closer look, you can find many near-transparent starry or spiny structures from each circular ossicle that has a black fringe.

This sea star has orangey tube feet that are extended and pointed. This is an adaptation for burrowing.

More stars for the night include the handsome Feather stars (Order Comatulida)! This white and black version is one of my favourites.

Here's another one with a small commensal living on one of its arms.

Zooming in, here you go! This alien-looking thingy is actually a worm known as Myzostomida, obligate symbionts of echinoderms (very commonly crinoids). Myzostomida come in a few types, some reside in their hosts while others cling to the outside.

And we saw many more other feather stars by the edge of the rocky area. Glad to know that they are thriving well. :)

These blobs are Ball tip corallimorphs that have retracted their tentacles when out of water. They come in a variety of colours and the orange versions are not so common. 

Ria found this Estuarine seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) that originally was hanging upside down out of water. It looks happier in the pool.

We saw some slugs such as this Black prickly nudibranch (Atagema intecta).

The Hypselodoris nudibranch (Hypselodoris sp.) is commonly found on this stretch of Changi shore and we found a few of them today!

Covered extensively on the rock surfaces are the ever-so-tough Zebra corals (Oulastrea crispata).

This photo of a Stone crab (Myomenippe hardwicki) hidden within the crevice of a long pole is quite artistic huh... haha!

Thank God that we were blessed with not-so-hazy conditions and the weather was clear enough for us to even see the moon. Hoping that the skies will be clear for the other field trips lined up for the rest of the week! :)

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