09 June 2009

Sentosa shores are alive!

Today, I checked out Sentosa's natural shores with Grace while the rest of the Team were at the sandy shores of Tanah Merah. We started at the shores near the area reclaimed for the Integrated Resort.
How delightful to find not only the Giant anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) still there, but also the False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) that lived there!

Wow, they sure have grown. When I last saw them in Jun 07, they only barely had one white stripe each (see photo below).There now seems to be four of these fishes in the anemone, with one very large one. All I could see was the tail of it under the anemone (see photo on the right), while the smaller anemonefishes frolicked happily in full view.
And the Anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) was also still there (see photo on the left).

Unfortunately, there is an announcement today that this area may be impacted by the setting up of a 'staging area' there. Work there will "entail the transportation of excavated earth by tugs and barges".

The seagrasses surrounding the anemone were also still there, though they looked a little sparse.
With growths of fat Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) and lots of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis). Let's hope this patch of shore is not going to affected by the reclamation on this shore. Further along the shore towards the beacon there were some clumps of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Around the corner from the beacon, there are meadows of Tape and Spoon seagrasses which are monitored by TeamSeagrass.

As we explored the rubbly and sandy shores just behind Underwater World, we spot a special nudibranch!
It is the Melibe nudibranch (Melibe viridis)! It seems to have lost a few of its lobe-like appendages, but it still has its distinctive expandable 'hood' which it uses to capture little crustaceans and other prey.

The rubbly area seems to be doing rather well, with some small hard corals and growths of sponges and other encrusting animals.
In fact, there is large patch of branching corals! Probably Montipora sp. this patch seems to be doing well despite the works nearby.
Branching corals are like trees, providing lots of hiding places for tiny animals such as the pretty little porcelain crab that hunkered down on a branch. Here, you can also see the tiny flower-like polyps that make up the hard coral colony.

Other hard corals seen here include small colonies of Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.).
And pretty, colourful favid corals (Family Faviidae). Some with ring-shaped corallites.
Others with hexagonal corallites.
Grace noticed the smooth-sided circular tunnels in the hard rubble. They are the homes of the Coral ghost shrimp (Glypturus sp.) which are very shy and hard to photograph. I only managed this blurry shot of one.
On the sandy patches on this shores are some Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta).
Ploughing the silty sands were these moon snails.
Now that I take a closer look at these moon snails typically seen on our Southern shores, I'm wondering if they are both Oval moon snails (Polinices mammatus). Or is the one with coloured patches on its shell and operculum, and a slightly different structure on the underside some other kind of moon snail? Hmmm.

As we wandered over the pebbly stony shores leading to the beacon, we saw lots of Nerites (Nerita sp.), Lightning dove snails (Pictocollumbela ocellata) and other snails typical of such rocky shores.

But the best part of this shore is the reefy area on the other side of the beacon. Here, there are a wider variety of corals and larger specimens. Like the pink Omelette leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) stuck next to the brown boulder shaped Pore hard coral (Porites sp.)
And this orange disk hard coral (Turbinaria sp.) next to a colony of greenish Goniopora hard coral (Goniopora sp.).
The large colony of ruffled disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) was still there.
Though I couldn't find the Acropora coral I saw in Nov 08.

It was really nice to see a small colony of plate-like Montipora hard coral (Montipora sp.).
As well as some Anemone hard coral (Goniopora sp.) with large anemone-like polyps.
Grace spots a large Tongue mushroom coral (Herpolitha sp.)!
And a little further along, we see a Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia talpina).
Although the above two corals look similar, a closer look at the the structure of the surface and tentacles will reveal their identities.
The Mole mushroom coral (photo on the left) has tentacles arranged in petal-like shapes and has many little mouths. While the Tongue mushroom coral had parallel ridges.

There are also several different kinds of leathery soft corals on this shore. There were those that resemble surgical gloves, and others that look like pinwheels.
Leathery soft corals are also colonial. Each is made up of tiny polyps that share a leathery tissue.
When the tiny polyps are retracted, the leathery tissue is revealed. Sometimes resulting in the animal having a different appearance. Both animals below are probably the same species, but appear brown or dark with the polyps expanded (portion on the right), and white with the polyps retracted (portion on the left).
We also spot all kinds of animals here.

Grace spots these two little fishes! The bigger fatter fish is probably a Yellow-banded damselfish (Dischistodus fasciatus). While the tinier one with narrow stripes is probably a Bengal sergeant (Abudefduf bengalensis).
And we watched with morbid fascination as this Giant reef worm (Eunice aphroditois) snuck out of its burrow to grab a mouthful of seaweeds.
We also see lots of Red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus) and Grace saw a pink slug! But I missed it. We also didn't see any octopus today.

As the sun rose, a team of dragonboatters passed by the shore.
This shore also faces shipping lanes. Many large ships park here too. In May, the shore was also affected by an oil spill.
Opposite the shore is Labrador (the forested area on the right), which I visited yesterday. Large cruise ships often pass through into Cruise Bay on the mainland next to Vivio City.

The Naked Hermit Crabs conduct guided walks on these shores for families during the school holidays. TeamSeagrass also regularly conduct monitoring of seagrasses on this shore.

For more about the efforts and impacts on this shore see this recent post about Sentosa.

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