On Lunar New Year Day 3, I decided to check out the idyllic sand flat at Tanah Merah / East Coast since the tide is still moderately low enough for a shore trip.
My previous trip here was last August in 2013 though I only spent a short moment exploring a huge stretch of shores along the East. The last trip that I properly surveyed this shore was as long as nearly 4 years ago in 2010 (before the oil spill event)!
Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta) that prowl the sandy shore leaving behind trails along the "sandy highway".
Button snails (Umbonium vestiarum) that are still doing very well on this shore that was once impacted by the oil spill. Unfortunately, the patches of button snails at Changi beach and Chek Jawa have been decimated, leaving this shore as one of the last strongholds of these pretty snails.
Ball moon snails (Polinices didyma).
Spiral melongena (Pugilina cochlidium) is also another huge predator that demonstrates a huge snail eating small snails.
Striped hermit crabs (Clibanarius infraspinatus) that are crowding around each other. I think they are in the process of home exchange. Read more about their shell exchange here.
observed last year in August, seagrasses have started to colonize the shore and that is a great sign!
Sea lettuce green seaweed (Ulva sp.) at certain stretches.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.)!
Why are we so excited to see seagrasses on the shore? This is because seagrass meadows that create a miniature underwater forest. A host of small plants and animals thrive in these thickets. Seagrasses provide shelter for many animals that are not adapted for fast swimming and also provide a place for animals to lay their eggs, and for small animals to settle down.
Blue swimming crab (Thalamita danae) that was found among the seagrasses was munching on some white bits that I could not distinguish.
Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis). Think it could be washed up from where the seagrass meadow is.
Fig snail (Ficus variegata) and it was a family that first found the special snail. As I was having a look at the fig snail, I also started sharing more about it with the people around me... and here I was activating my guiding mode since they looked interested to find out more.
Olive snails (Family Olividae). These bullet-shaped snails are usually found on well-aerated, clean sand.
Plain sand stars (Astropecten indicus) started to "pop" out from the sand and showed themselves to the family of kids and adults around us. Timing was just right for me to continue my guiding mode without having to move too much.
Painted sand star (Astropecten sp.) also appeared in front of us! So I went on to talk more about the wonders of sea stars aka starfishes.
So my solo trip on the shore was not-so-solo after all! With the company of people and animals!
Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum)!
Tropical silversides (Atherinomorus duodecimalis) that leap from the water whenever light is shone onto it.
Looks like the shore has recovered well after the oil spill a few years ago and I saw no signs of oil beneath the sand as well. May the shore continue to be home to these fabulous creatures of the sea.