01 April 2010

Checking up on Labrador

It's the first of the morning low tides for the year, and I thought I should see how our last mainland reef is doing.
And how nice to see life is still hanging on at this much beleaguered shore. There were lots of little Copperband butterfly fishes (Chelmon rostratus)!

In fact, there were quite a few fishes on the shore. The Ornate lagoon-gobies (Istigobius nebulous) were abundant and large. And there were many little Crescent perch (Terapon jarbua).
There were also many little Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis) and several small Brown sweetlips (Plectorhinchus gibbosus) that resemble dead leaves. They even float about in a lackadaisical fashion to resemble bits of litter.
I also saw two medium-sized filefishes (Family Monacanthidae). They were very well camouflaged and remained almost motionless.
There were also many tiny White-spotted rabbitfishes (Siganus canaliculatus), and this fish that I don't know.
All these tiny fishes eventually grow up and are probably among those that the fishermen catch at the jetty. So preserving this shore is important if fishermen want to continue to enjoy fishing at Labrador.

While there many swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) large and small, I didn't see any other kind of crab. Not even the usually abundant Hairy crabs (Family Pilumnidae) and Red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus).
Also not as abundant as I expected, were the Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.), I only saw two. Although it was nice to see one peacock anemone (Order Ceriantharia) among the seagrasses.
I also saw two colonies of these flowery soft corals (Family Neptheidea). But didn't see any leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) of any size.
The most abundant animal on the shore must be the zoanthids. Mostly the Button zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.), with a few Broad zoanthids (Palythoa mutuki).
There was a great variety of seaweeds on the shore. Especially the green seaweeds. From left to right: Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) which was in bloom, Caulerpa sertularioides, Caulerpa serrulata, Caulerpa lentillifera, Caulerpa racemosa var peltata, Caulerpa peltata,
Here's more strange-looking things that are green seaweeds: the bubble shaped Boergesenia forbesii, sausage like Neomeris sp., and blobby stuff that might be Codium sp.
Coin-shaped hard seaweeds (Halimeda sp.) covered large areas of the rocky shore, there were some Avrainvillea erecta and some Udotea sp. I looked but didn't find any of the slugs usually seen on these seaweeds.
There were a lot of this fluffy green seaweed. I don't know what it is just yet.
There were fewer red and brown seaweeds in both variety and number of specimens. Some fluffy pink seaweed, my first sighting of Soliera robusta on Labrador, lots of Eucheuma sp., one clump of Halymenia maculata, a tiny bit of red Halymenia and this brown seaweed without veins.
And here's a strange organism. It's actually a symbiotic combination of an algae (Ceratodictyon spongiosum) and a sponge (Halichlona cymaeformis)! The algae makes up the bulk of the organism while the sponge appears to give the organism its shape and form, contributing to the formation of the tiny holes. The algae gets most of the nitrogen it needs from the sponge while the sponge benefits from the skeletal frame that the algae provides.
There were many different kinds of sponges, although the specimens were not very numerous.
Here's an encrusting sponge that I've not seen before.
Almost all the chocolate sponges (Spheciospongia cf. vagabunda) had a little ball-like bit sticking out. This eventually breaks off to settle down as a new sponge. I only noticed the little feathery things sticking out of the holes in this sponge when I got home to process the photos. They are probably the feet of little barnacles.
But how are the hard corals doing? Well, I saw a few very large living hard coral colonies. They looked like survivors of all the travails that have beset this shore. There were two large Pore corals (Porites sp.).
And two small colonies of branching Montipora corals (Montipora sp.).
Several small colonies of these Goniopora corals (Goniopora sp.) which have tiny polyps.
Only one colony of the super tough Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata).
A small colony with neat hexagonal corallites probably Family Faviidae.
And this one with really tiny corallites.
I was heartened to see many tiny colonies of hard corals all over the shore. Many were hardly bigger than a 50cent coin. Hopefully, these will get to grow up.
Labrador is also the last mainland shore with good seagrass meadows. The seagrasses seem to be doing well in most parts, with the three major species still present: Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
I finally managed a half-decent shot of the cross-veins on the Sickle seagrass!
In some parts, there is abundant seaweeds growing among the seagrasses.
I'm not sure what this means for the seagrasses.
One thing I didn't see much of on the shore was litter. Hurrah! In fact, I notice the high shore was very clean, with only bits that look like they washed up recently. The huge mess of shrines at the western end of the shore is completely cleared up too.
Unfortunately the giant concrete block that looks like the remains of the Seacil project is still there.
There also seems to be a loss of sand on the shore, from the big hole under the ramp from the seawall.
Labrador shore is severely impacted by the ongoing massive reclamation for a new container terminal. Besides reclamation, there is also dredging and underwater blasting nearby.
When I arrived before sunrise, the massive worksite was all lit up.
Although Shell announced that its new Bukom refinery is fully operational, it seems that flaring is still going on. The huge flare was visible from Labrador when I arrived.
And it was still flaring when I left after sunrise.
Let's hope that life can continue to cling on through all these works and eventually return once the work is over.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Ria, thanks for this detailed report! Good to see that there's still a nice variety of marine life on the shore despite some apparent forms of degradation.

    Reading through your post, felt like I was out all day with you as well!



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