31 December 2009

Monster Marine issue of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology

Packed with awesome latest findings about our marine life covering a wide range of taxonomic groups and variety of habitats from artificial seawalls, navigation buoys to natural shores and our best reefs.
Among the marvellous information are new records for Singapore! 38 marine macroalgae, 8 sponges, 33 hard corals, 5 zoanthids, 10 sea anemones, 6 mangrove polychaete worms, 40 marine mites, 1 water mite.

And NEW species were also described: 1 mushroom coral, 3 marine mites, 1 water mite,

You can download all the papers from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research website! (The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement Series No. 22 (2009): i-ii, 1-294)

Here's some of my favourite parts ...

Is there anything left of marine habitats in Singapore that is worth studying this millenium? The answer is a resounding YES! MORE in "Fourteenth International Marine Biology Workshop 2006: The marine flora and fauna of Singapore". K. S. Tan, Lena Chan, L. M. Chou and Peter K. L. Ng. Pp. 1-3. [pdf, 421 KB]

What are the major constraints to sustainable management of our shores? What is the role of science in this? There's a discussion of maintaining up-to-date biodiversity baselines with an example of this for Labrador Nature Reserve and the Pasir Panjang Port expansion. And cool new monitoring methods adapted to our special situation. MORE in "Management for long-term sustainability of marine habitats in Singapore: a science-based approach". Nigel Goh. Pp. 279-282. [pdf, 426 KB]

Seaweed Bonanza! Covering FORTY! (40!) seaweed species of Singapore, this paper is fascinating as I've been intrigued by many nameless seaweeds commonly seen on our shores. Like this very pretty seaweed!
MORE in "New records of marine algae on artificial structures and intertidal flats in coastal waters of Singapore". A. C. Lee, Lawrence M. Liao and K. S. Tan. Pp. 5-40. [pdf, 2.41 MB]

Called 'fouling' organisms only because we don't really want them to be there, a wondrous variety of marine life settle on anything we put into the sea. A study of sponges on the navigation buoys in Singapore resulted in 62 sponge species! Some are quite colourful, like these.
MORE in "Fouling sponges (Porifera) on navigation buoys from Singapore waters". Swee-Cheng Lim, Nicole J. de Voogd and Koh-Siang Tan. Pp. 41-58. [pdf, 1.39 MB]

What do sponges tell us about our shores? It's not all bad news: "Although human activities have altered the coral reef structure drastically, the sponge community is reasonably diverse". But the future for sponges (and our other marine life) remains under threat. MORE in "Variation in sponge composition among Singapore reefs". Nicole J. de Voogd and Daniel F. R. Cleary. Pp. 59-67. [pdf, 1.23 MB]

Coral overdose: How many hard coral species does Singapore have? Danwei's awesome paper puts it at 255 species, an increase of more than 30% since the last assessment in 1995! This total number of species is considered "comparable to reefs in neighboring countries if reef area is taken into account". And includes 33 new records! Plus, a distribution of these species among the 8 reefs surveyed. Wow! And lots MORE in "An inventory of zooxanthellate scleractinian corals in Singapore, including 33 new records". Danwei Huang, Karenne P. P. Tun, L. M. Chou and Peter A. Todd. Pp. 69-80. [pdf, 2.94 MB]

A new mushroom coral species! Most mushroom corals lie unattached on the sea bottom as adults. But some remain attached to a hard surface all their lives and these are not as well studied. This study reports a new record of an 'attached' mushroom coral: Podabacia motuporensis.
And a new species of 'attached' mushroom coral: Podabacia kunzmanni. Named after Dr. Andreas Kunzmann, this coral is so far only known from Singapore and western Indonesia. It is most easily found on dead reefs.
MORE in "Attached mushroom corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) in sediment-stressed reef conditions at Singapore, including a new species and a new record". Bert W. Hoeksema. Pp. 81-90. [pdf, 1.85 MB]

What do our mushroom corals tell us about our shores? Alas, a loss of mushroom coral species has been observed in Singapore and is likely to be linked to our murky sediment-laden waters resulting from land reclamation projects and deforestation on the mainland. MORE in "Depauperation of the mushroom coral fauna (Fungiidae) of Singapore (1860s–2006) in changing reef conditions". Bert W. Hoeksema and Esther G. L. Koh. Pp. 91-101. [pdf, 1.24 MB]

Identifying zoanthids is a tricky business. A survey of Singapore's zoanthids suggests, among others, Palythoa sp. "singapura" which is only known from one colony from Raffles Lighthouse. More research is needed to determine whether this is truly an undescribed species!
MORE in "Preliminary molecular examination of zooxanthellate zoanthids (Hexacorallia: Zoantharia) and associated zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.) diversity in Singapore". James D. Reimer and Peter A. Todd. Pp. 103-120. [pdf, 2.04 MB]

Sea anemones revealed! Covering 16 species of common, easy-to-identify anemones, of which 10 are recorded for the first time for Singapore. Dr Daphne also gives fabulous descriptions of how to tell them apart, with some photos to help us along. This is currently my favourite.
I'm totally absolutely in awe that they let me be a part of this paper. MORE in "Sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria) of Singapore: abundant and well-known shallow-water species". Daphne Gail Fautin, S. H. Tan and Ria Tan. Pp. 121-143. [pdf, 2.89 MB]. Here's some of the anemone adventures we had in the field. This is just the tip of the anemone iceberg! Dr Daphne is working on the other even more amazing anemones we saw. Wow!

Goby heaven in a sea fan: Tiny and feeble swimmers, Whipcoral gobies cling onto sea fans that may be unbranched (and thus called whip corals) or branched. They are even found on buoy lines. So do Whipcoral gobies prefer certain sea fans? Find out in "Fish and whips: use of gorgonians as a habitat by the large whipcoral goby, Bryaninops amplus (Larson)". Justin Sih and Jeff Chouw. Pp. 145-157. [pdf, 911 KB]

Why should we know about our mangrove worms? "Beyond academic purposes, an up-to-date species inventory supports effective conservation management". Also, icky stuff at the bottom of the food chain support our more beloved mangrove creatures such as birds. It's thus exciting to hear of six new records for Singapore! MORE in "New nereidid records (Annelida: Polychaeta) from mangroves and sediment flats of Singapore". W. M. F. Chan. Pp. 159-172. [pdf, 1.19 MB]

Other tiny TINY critters like mites can also tell us more about species diversity across broad regions. MORE in "Psammobiont halacarid mites (Acari: Halacaridae) from St. John’s Island, Singapore and remarks on the halacarid fauna of the Malay Peninsula". Ilse Bartsch. Pp. 173-201. [pdf, 885 KB]

And it's always great to hear of yet more new records for Singapore. MORE in "Water mites of the family Pontarachnidae from Singapore, with a description of one new species (Acari: Hydrachnidia)". Harry Smit. Pp. 203-205. [pdf, 452 KB]

MORE about tiny little critters in "A review of the Bopyridae (Crustacea: Isopoda) of Singapore, with the addition of four species to that fauna". John C. Markham. Pp. 225-236. [pdf, 704 KB]

Stupendous Slugs! Finally, we learn the names of some of the intriguing slugs that we (or rather, Chay Hoon) have been seeing on our shores! Like these
and these!
ALL about them on "Sacoglossa (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from Singapore". Kathe R. Jensen. Pp. 207-223. [pdf, 2.31 MB]

What grows on our seawalls? This is an interesting question because sadly, much of Singapore's coastline now consists of artificial habitats: man-made beaches and seawalls and breakwaters. The marine community that develops on our seawalls can affect natural shores. MORE in "Intertidal assemblages on coastal defence structure in Singapore I: A faunal study". A. C. Lee, K. S. Tan and T. M. Sin. Pp. 237-254. [pdf, 1.75 MB] and "Intertidal assemblages on coastal defence structure in Singapore II. Contrasts between islands and the mainland". A. C. Lee and T. M. Sin. Pp. 255-268. [pdf, 628 KB]

Seawalls are also a great place to learn more about poorly studied creatures such as common limpets. MORE in "Vertical distribution, spawning and recruitment of Siphonaria guamensis (Gastropodae: Pulmonata) on a seawall in Singapore". C. K. Chim and K. S. Tan. Pp. 269-278. [pdf, 682 KB]

Wow, that sure is a lot of papers! This is the best New Year present I ever got!

Happy New Year and looking forward to more marine adventures in 2010.

See also Challenges in protecting biodiversity in Singapore New finds still being made, even as balance is sought between conservation and development Grace Chua, Straits Times 30 Jan 10;


  1. Congrats on your anemone paper! :)

  2. Congrats Ria, you're the number one (bestest) field investigator of Singapore's intertidal in my book! Joe : ) You deserve every bit of accolate and honour. Your passion and drive to document the marine biodiversity in our native shores is simple inspiring. No one does it as consistently and as committedly as you. You are really one of a kind: pouring precious time and personal resources ($$) into your work, unspoken and unselfishly put to good use without any care for recognition. I can go on and on. Have another great year ahead in the field, Ria.

  3. Joe and Jeff, you are too kind. I am in awe of the real science that goes into our marine life, and feel very privileged that I can play a small part in it. There is much yet to do and I am constantly inspired by the good work done by so many many people towards this end. Including the work both of you do!



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