16 November 2008

How is Sentosa's natural shore doing?

Sentosa's natural shores are also under pressure from major reclamation and works that are ongoing for the Sentosa IR.Labrador Nature Reserve is just opposite Sentosa's natural shores, marked by the green Tanjung Rimau beacon.Here's a view of Sentosa's natural shore from the Labrador Promenade.

From Labrador, we can see the works going on near Sentosa's cable car tower.The seawall appears built.And it seems to extend only to a portion of the Sentosa shore.This reclamation affected shores there, which were teeming with hard corals and other marine life.These very large hard corals were right under the cable car tower. More about the reclamation on the Sentosa shore on the wildsingapore website.Now it seems the remaining shores that were not affected by the new seawall will be impacted by the staging area to be set up on the shores over the next seven months.

We joined the Naked Hermit Crabs who were doing preparations on Sentosa for their upcoming free public walk there.From the Sentosa shore, we could see the works going on near Labrador.How is the Sentosa shore doing with all these impacts?

Although the shores were a lot 'quieter' in terms of marine life than in the past, it is still very much alive.

There were lots of leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae), although most specimens were smaller than those seen on our other Southern shores. These colonial animals are made up of countless tiny polyps, each with tentacles with tiny branches.
This is what I call the Omelette leathery coral. This was the most commonly seen on Sentosa on our trip.Small leathery corals often look like disk-shaped mushrooms.
This is what I call the Black-and-white leathery coral because it is black when the polyps are expanded, and white when the polyps are retracted.
This is what I call the Smooth leathery coral. I'm still awaiting help to get these animals identified.This leathery coral with tiny fingers I couldn't place even in my rudimentary grouping, because I couldn't see its polyps.Hidden among the leathery soft corals were tiny filefishes (Family Monacanthidae). These fishes can change their colours and often match the colour of their sheltering soft coral.They also bend their bodies to match blend into the soft coral! Which makes it very difficult to take a good photo of the entire fish.Here's one that happened to poke its head out. The filefish has a movable 'spine' on its head.

There were many scattered colonies of hard corals too. Many were small. Hard corals are colonies of tiny polyps too.Most of the hard corals were Porites hard coral (Porites sp.) with tiny polyps and corallites. Most are brown, but this green one might be a porites too.Although it looks similar to Porites, this is a Sandpaper hard coral (Psammocora sp.) with tiny TINY polyps forming flower-like corallites.Another Sandpaper hard coral, but this colony has a crinkled colony surface.This one is a Goniopora hard coral (Goniopora sp.) with tiny polyps. It used to be more commonly seen on this shore.Forming disks or ruffled plates, this is a Disk hard coral (Turbinaria sp.).There were also several colonies of colourful Favid hard corals (Family Faviidae), some forming boulders.Others are more encrusting.And a large sausage-shaped Favid hard coral that was glowing in the dark! Marcus also saw one long mushroom coral (Family Fungiidae).

More about the common shapes and textures of our hard corals on the wildsingapore website.

Pretty animals encountered include the colourful and highly poisonous Mosaic crab (Lophozozymus pictor). There were also many swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) and red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus).And a well camouflaged False scorpionfish (Centrogynes vaigiensis).This fish actually belongs to the family of groupers and is not toxic.One sure sign that it's not a scorpionfish is the nose flaps! More about how to tell apart fishes that look like stones on the wildsingapore website.

An amazing fish sighting was Andy who found a friendly Blue spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma). He said it was really small and obliging, allowing him to film it for some time. As we talked about it over dinner, given its small size and naive behaviour, we thought it might perhaps literally have just been born. So Sentosa's reefs may thus shelter young marine life.

And another amazing combi fish-shrimp sighting, Marcus said he stalked a shrimp goby and its snapping shrimp companion for a long time on this shore. Wow!

I must have been channeling Chay Hoon yesterday as I kept seeing TINY things. Haha.These tiny TINY sap-sucking slugs which are probably some sort of Elysia.They were everywhere. Chay Hoon used to say this all the time, and I still couldn't find them. Yesterday, I did! Ivan found yet more weird slugs too.Also everywhere, these tiny little bug-like animals that were on the Tape seagrasses. Marcus thinks they are probably amphipods, a group of crustaceans that include the beachfleas.

As the tide turned, we headed for higher shores and encountered land hermit crabs, ghost crabs, spiders in the natural caves in the cliffside and alas, lots of trash as well.Sentosa seems to be hanging in there despite the pressures. We can only hope for the best.

Come join the Naked Hermit Crabs on their guided walk there to see it for yourself.

Other blogs about this trip

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