18 April 2011

Amazing fishes on oil-slicked Tanah Merah

Many first time sightings for me of colourful fishes on Tanah Merah's oil-slicked shore early this morning. I think this one is a juvenile Angelfish (Family Pomacanthidae). I've never seen one before!
Mystery fish no. 1
Also lots of common fishes, as well as other marine life.

Another first time sighting for me, this colourful large fish which I think is some kind of grouper (Family Serranidae).
Mystery fish no. 2
I saw two of these beautiful fishes! I love the pink eyelids and pretty colours. I have no idea what they are. Perhaps a kind of wrasse (Family Labridae) or parrotfish (Family Scaridae)?
Mystery fish no. 3
And a baby Scissortail sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus). So far, I've only seen this fish once at the reefs of Sisters Islands.
There were lots and lots of damselfishes (Family Pomacentridae). Many of the little striped ones are Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis), although perhaps some of them are something different. There were many larger dark blue ones lurking among the rocks. They might be the Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
This pretty little electric blue damselfish is among my favourites. It's possibly the juvenile Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
I also saw many filefishes (Family Monacanthidae) of various colours and patterns. They were all quite well camouflaged!
There were also many little gobies (Family Gobiidae) which are quite pretty when you take a closer look at them!
I also saw two small Chocolate hinds (Cephalopholis boenak), another tiny grouper that I don't know, and five medium-sized Painted scorpionfishes (Parascorpaena picta).
There were also many little colourful Cardinalfishes (Family Apogonidae).
Huddled together in a pool were these three little Freckled goatfishes (Upeneus tragula).
Some of the other fishes seen include: A little Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), a tiny Black eeltail catfish (Plotosus canius), a little blue halfbeak (Family Hemiramphidae), a baby Cresent perch (Terapon jarbua), many Whitings (Family Sillagenidae) and lots of tiny White-spotted rabbitfishes (Siganus canaliculatus).
I saw this fat cuttlefish quietly paddling about at the water surface.
I'm delighted to come across many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) in mating position. Besides those in this photo, I saw 8 other pairs in mating position and another 10 individuals alone.
The two patches of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) are still doing well. They are dotted with many small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) . Today, I saw one carpet anemone with many anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)! Usually, there is only one pair of male and female shrimps in each anemone. This anemone had two males and females, and in the water nearby were another male and female wandering around the seagrasses. What's going on? I have no idea!
Today I saw about 6 tiny Pink moon snails (Natica zonalis) near one another, busy bulldozing through the sand.
There were also many crabs out and about on the shore. Many large Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus) and countless little flower crabs. Several large Mud crabs (Scylla sp.). And many other kinds of swimming crabs (Family Portunidae). Some females had their large flappy underbelly bits out, carrying eggs?
How nice to see many little Spotted moon crabs (Ashtoret lunaris) out and about on the shore. This is the first time I've seen so many here since the oil spill. There were, as usual, many busy Ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus) on the sandflats, and Purple climber crabs (Metopograpsus sp.) on the rocks. I also saw one Velcro crab (Camposcia retusa).
It was nice to see many hermit crabs out and about on the shore. Besides the usual orange coloured Striped hermit crabs (Clibanarius sp.), I saw one blue coloured one. I saw a few Banded hermit crabs and many many tiny Tidal hermit crabs (Diogenes sp.).
The corals on this shore seemed fine. As usual, the most abundant hard coral here are Favid corals (Family Faviidae).
There are also several large colonies of Pore corals (Porites sp.). All the hard corals seemed alright and were not bleaching. There are not as many coral colonies and varieties in this stretch of Tanah Merah, compared to the other stretch further south.
I saw this intriguing bubble of eggs. Hopefully, whatever creatures these are will hatch and grow up normally on the shore.
I saw many Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta) today. Some were still 'spitting' out coils of grey sand.
The circle of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) and patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) were still there. From what I saw, the most abundant seaweed on the shore were Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.) on the rocky seawall, with only a few strands of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) here and there.
Ivan also saw a nudibranch, moray eel and other exciting finds!

It was too dark to take photos of the upper shore. But I could still smell crude oil in some spots. And there was scum in large parts of the water and among the seagrasses.
We started work at 4am and the tide turned rapidly at 6pm. The weather also suddenly turned wet. We got the briefest glimpse of sunrise as we left the shore.
It is possible that I saw so many fishes and other animals today simply because we visited at night when the fishes are less shy. The tide was also a lot lower than my last visit here. But I am very happy to see so much life on this shore!

More about the oil spill on this blog and on the Oil spill facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. The angelfish that you saw should be a juvenile Pomacanthus annularis. It's a quite a popular aquarium fish locally, I've one in my tank too ! :)

    More information here : http://www.fishlookup.com/salt-water-fish-pet/blue-ring-angelfish-juvenile/#more-311



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