05 May 2011

Fishy again at oil-slicked Tanah Merah

Before the oil spill hit this shore, we used to see all kinds of fishes here. This morning, I saw lots of fishes! My favourite: this tiny Zebra solefish (Zebria zebra)! I've only seen this once before, at Changi found by Chay Hoon.
I was checking out this shore at 5am in the dark, my favourite time for a shore trip!

Quite similar to my trip last month during daylight, I saw many corals and lots of fishes. But it's easier to take nice photos at night. The fishes are less shy, and the corals are prettier.
I saw another even tinier flatfish! I'm not sure what kind of flatfish it is.
I saw two Brown-spotted moray eels (Gymnothorax reevesii) today! This one was hunting in relatively clear water! The larger fishes around it were unperturbed and indeed, the eel left them alone as it plunged into crevices among the rocks. I wonder what it prefers to eat? I didn't see it catch anything.
Uh oh...and this is Mr Stonefish. I haven't seen him for a while, but I guessed with all the fishy sightings, the horrible Hollow cheeked stonefishes (Synanceia horrida) were still very much around. Just so well camouflaged that I probably overlooked them. This is one reason why I am super careful on this shore.
There were lots of small fishes this morning! I noticed in particular, schools of small Common mojara (Gerres oyena), small Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis) and small White-spotted rabbitfishes (Siganus canaliculatus). Also abundant were Whitings (Family Sillagenidae).
I also saw many damselfishes (Family Pomacentridae) of various kinds. Some Yellow banded damselfish (Dischistodus fasciatus) and many Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
Also several Spangled emperors (Lethrinus nebulosus) and many cardinalfishes (Family Apogonidae). I saw several Painted scorpionfishes (Parascorpaena picta) and False scorpionfishes (Centrogenys vaigiensis). I also saw a Chocolate hind (Cephalopholis boenak).
There were of course countless gobies (Family Gobiidae) of many kinds. I also saw one filefish (Family Monacanthidae), Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), several halfbeaks (Family Hemiramphidae).

It was really nice to see two Saron shrimps (Family Hippolytidae)!
I saw many Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) of various kinds. Ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus) are also still busy on the shore, and I saw two Red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus) and one Ornamented snapping shrimp (Alpheus sp.).
This leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) that I visit every month seems to have grown larger!
Pore corals (Porites sp.) are common here. Some Pore corals I saw had whitish portions that were still alive. And many of the Flowery disk corals (Turbinaria sp.) I saw were yellowish and pale. I also saw something that looked like a recently dead branching coral, possibly Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.).
But most of the corals I saw seemed fine. I saw a wide variety of species including Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.), Acropora coral (Acropora sp.), Bracket mushroom coral . I also saw some Brain coral (Family Mussidae).
Most of the hard corals I saw were Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata). Many of the coral were teeming with little Red nose shrimps (Periclimenes sp.).
There are many large colonies of Favid corals (Family Faviidae). Those I saw seemed fine.
There were also many smaller Favid coral colonies in various colours and patterns. At night, the coral polyps are usually extended, making for a prettier picture.
I saw a few clumps of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.). Including one small clump of what seems to be Sea mat zoanthids (Palythoa tuberculosa).
I saw two small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). One had a really tiny anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) and the other, two fat shrimps.
I saw several Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) and on the rocky area something that looks like a Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea). I also saw one small peacock anemone, which are not true sea anemones.
I saw six Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) today. They seemed fine. But I didn't really do much of the upper shore so perhaps I missed others which were there.
Distracted by fishes, I didn't really notice the snails. But I did see several Oval moon snails (Polinices mammila) busy ploughing through the sand. Several Black-lipped conch snails (Strombus urceus). Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) were plentiful only on the rocky areas and were not seen on the sandy area. I saw what seems to be a young Window-pane clam (Placuna sp.). I also saw many Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella).
I saw many clumps of the Blue spatula sponge (Lamellodysidea herbacea).
I saw a sprinkling of tiny Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) in the lagoon. Some had tiny leaf blades heavily covered in epiphytes. There were small patches of larger blades. I also came across two small clumps of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides).
I saw a wider range of seaweeds today. There were some Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) and Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.) were still the most common seaweed, I also saw smaller clumps of other kinds of seaweeds.
I also saw several signs of Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta), widely spaced apart on the sandy shores. The coils of "processed sand" seem clean.
The low tide was long enough that I enjoyed a sunrise as the trip ended. There were two men fishing on the shore with what seems to be a driftnet. I saw them leaving with the net. Earlier on, in the dark, two other men who had been fishing passed me on the way out.
Today, I didn't see large clumps of brownish scum in the water. On the high shore, it seems sandy although the shore is still a bit greyish.
It is still grey under a layer of sand.
Scraping away the layer of sand, it still sparkles with crude.
More about the oil spill on this blog and on the Oil spill facebook page.

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