28 June 2010

How are East Coast shores doing after the oil spill?

There is small shore at East Coast Park which astounded us with marine life associated with reefs when we last visited in Aug 09. Here's some of our previous sightings.
Kok Sheng also shared about the awesome forests of magical sea fans that sprout on the sea walls nearby during a visit in Jul 09.


On the artificial walls, wondrous marine life have settled down!
Besides various awesome encrusting animals, we even saw a Bornella nudibranch during our trip in Jun 09.
Not to mention that Hawksbills sea turtle hatchlings have been regularly encountered on this shore! And this shore is also a source of new records for Singapore! Such as for surf clams and sea fan snails.

Chay Hoon and I checked out the 'reefy' shore this morning with much trepidation. Here's a shot of the crude I saw landing on a small part of the East Coast shore on 26 May.
As expected, it was quite bare. There were no soft corals or sea fans on the mid-water mark. And few signs of life. But, there are still several swimming crabs (Family Portunidae).
And many little patches of Zebra corals (Oulastrea crispata) growing on the rocks on the shore. Sadly, I saw about 10% of them were bleached.
I saw these two tiny colonies of Favid corals (Family Faviidae). They were already bleached.
There were several large and small gobies in the shallow pools. Also mudskippers and several more speedy fishes that swam away into the murky waters before I could photograph them.
In the shallow pools, there were several small prawns as well as one Leaf porter crab (Family Dorripidae).
There are also several clumps of these elegant branching sponges (Haliclona sp.). As well as patches of other encrusting sponges.
Also clinging on, a small Thumbs up ascidian (Polycarpa sp.) and one Striped sand anemone.
Today, the tide wasn't low enough to check out where the sea fans were. But I could see at least one colony sticking out of the water in the distance. It looked a bit pale though.
Although there is no sign of crude on the shore or rock walls, the ground is soft in some places, with a layer of greyish mud-like stuff under the beige fine sand.
Chay Hoon found this recently dead small Spider conch (Lambis lambis)! Though we can't be sure that it lived here as there are many different ways empty shells can end up on our shores.
We headed out to check out the sandy shore that was full of interesting snails and other marine life when we last visited it. But there was massive work going in front of this shore. They were drilling loudly as they broke up the seawall there, even though it was not yet sunrise!
It was unlikely that the shore nearby would survive these large scale works. Rather depressed, we gave up and headed home.

With time, perhaps some of the marvels we saw will return to the East Coast.

What we saw at the East Coast on previous surveys:
More photos of marine life at the East Coast.

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