Saturday, February 13, 2016

CNY Day 3: Tanah Merah sandflat

It's the third day of Chinese New Year and a small team of us were out at Tanah Merah sandflat during a not-so-low tide. Nevertheless, there were still lots to see! And it's great to revisit this shore. My previous trip here was also during the 3rd day of CNY in 2014.

When the tide goes out, one can actually find lots of marine life on the seemingly-dead sandy shore such as the numerous sand dollars on the rich sand bank.

As I arrived slightly earlier, I took a look at the underside of many rocks to kill time and it was rewarding. I came across different types of critters ranging from cowries, limpets, porcelain crabs, sea squirts, sea anemones and our first sighting of the Crown sea star (Asterina coronata) on this shore! A six-armed one some more!

Another special find underneath rocks would be this nudibranch that I have not seen before. Thanks to Chay Hoon for the id, it seems to look like Hallaxa fuscescens. A new sighting!

Here's part of the plentiful Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta) that can be found on the sand bar.

And we were pleasantly surprised to also find three of the Thick-edged sand dollars (Jacksonaster depressum) on this shore.

Other than the sand dollars, the Button snails (Umbonium vestiarum) are also another common resident of this shore. 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.Let's hope they will remain for long.

Usually a trip to this shore on an evening tide is never alone as there will be families and people checking out marine life during low tide. The kids found this Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera) halfway feeding on a fish!

Here's how the pink Cake sea star looked like from the front. And the kids also found a juvenile Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)! My first time seeing both of these sea stars on this shore. Great to know that the shore here is thriving. I believe it is because of the recent growth of seagrass on this shore.

Later on, I also came across another juvenile Knobbly sea star, though this one seems to be battered or injured.

As dusk fell, this Painted sand star (Astropecten sp.) emerged and there are two parasitic snails that are found on its aboral surface. The parasitic snails stick their proboscis through the body wall and suck on the host's body fluids.

Once again, one of the kids showed me his proud find of the Fig snail (Ficus variegata).

And when the skies darkened, more and more of these Grey bonnet snail (Phalium glaucum) started coming out from the sand.

Talking about coming out from the sand, I was taken aback to see the head of a Highfin snake-eel (Ophichthus altipennis) sticking out from the sand while moving its jaw. It may be in the midst of burrowing but got "trapped" by the outgoing tide.

We tried to dig the surrounding sand for the snake-eel to come out but it went deeper instead. Here's a closer look at the snake-eel.

The tide wasn't too low, thus we didn't get to see the seagrasses emerging from the water. A quick look underwater revealed that they are still around and doing well!

Here's an end to the 3 days of CNY trips! This is also likely our last evening trip for the first half of the year and very soon we will be waking up in unearthly hours to continue with morning trips. Haha!

More photos of the trip here:

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