05 November 2009

First stars on Sentosa

Yesterday, a small team checked out the Sentosa shores that are impacted by many developments nearby. It was not a very low tide and a short window too. Still, we had a quick look around.
Finally, I saw the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) there! Thanks to Kok Sheng who pointed them out. He had seen them before on earlier trips, but I never managed to find them.

Another big surprise, lush growths of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii)! The seagrasses here looking healthy, with broad clean leaves. There were also lush patches of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis).
This was in the area just off the portion reclaimed for the Integrated Resort. Here, there are stretches of seagrasses, sandy shores, rubble and reef.
As we headed out for the southern shore of Sentosa, we kept a look out for Giant Clams. Mei Lin, aka Giant Clam Girl, was doing her survey of these magnificent bivalves. So we tried to help. But all we saw were little clams. Although this one was quite interesting. Showing it's feathery mantle between the valves. It looks like the large cockles that I've been seeing but whose ID I've yet to find out.
Also near the rocky area which we were passing, we found a little scallop under a rock. This bivalve also had a frilly mantle with lots of tiny tentacles sticking out, and a row of tiny red eye spots! James got a much better picture of it.
I also noticed a young Mangrove cannon-ball tree or Nyireh bunga (Xylocarpus granatum) growing on the seawall! How nice. This tree is identified by its peeling bark, and compound leaves made of up leaflets with rather blunt tips.
The rocks were teeming with little snails. Like this Polished nerite (Nerita polita). Sentosa is among the few shores where I often see this pretty snail.
Here and there, on the sandy patches among the rocks are very large sand dollars. They look like Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta). Some were rather greenish. Those we see elsewhere are more purplish.
From this shore, we could see the massive reclamation for the Pasir Panjang Container Terminal project just off Labrador Nature Reserve (where the bit of trees is on the right side of the photo).
The piles of sand there is taller than the ferries plying the waters nearby!
And just across the shore is Berlayar Creek where soil investigation work is going on, probably for the upcoming boardwalk there.
Here's a closer look at the jack-up barge used for the testing. The buildings behind are the Keppel Club.
The channel between Sentosa and the mainland is used by humungous cruise liners that dock near Vivio City.
As well as lots of little boats that zoom in and out, creating lots of waves that pound the shores. And other traces too. We saw a sheen of spilled fuel washing up on the shoreline.
As we rounded the corner to the reefy part of the shore that we so love, it got dark and the tide started to turn.

I had a quick look at the Raffles pitcher plants (Nepenthes rafflesiana) draping the natural cliffs. They were blooming profusely and laden with pitchers.
And nearby, the two magnificent Niyreh (Xylocarpus rumphii) trees are doing fine. Although alas, no flowering or fruiting was sighted. These trees have fissured bark, and the leaflets have pointed tips and distinct yellowish veins. They are very rare in Singapore as we have lost the boulder-strewn rocky shores where they are naturally found.
It seems we lingered a bit too long on the other side of Sentosa and the tide was too high to explore this reefy portion more thoroughly. In addition, there was a bloom of Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) that made it difficult to see what we were stepping on in the water. Nevertheless, we saw a LOT of marinelife in this hairy mess on the high shores. So much so, I had to do a separate post about them.

We also had a quick look at the land hermit crabs (Coenobita sp.) that hide on the high shore and only come out in force after dark. There are big purple ones and small brownish ones.
The purple ones are quite delightful.
Fortunately, Ivan recently led a team to clean up this shore which reduced the trash load. Rubbish on the high shore is not good especially for creatures like the land hermit crabs which live and forage there.

More about Sentosa on the wildsingapore website.

Other posts about this trip


  1. Nice one Ria. Sentosa can be a nice place without the extra developments... more presevation is needed!

  2. Yes Adrian, needs more awareness. Thank goodness for your support on this! Thank you for taking care of Sentosa's shores and especially its seagrasses!



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