02 June 2011

Moray madness at Tanah Merah

Today I saw FOUR fearsome moray eels on the stretch of Tanah Merah that was hit by an oil spill one year ago!
The Brown spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax reevesii) has sharp backward pointing teeth and tubular nostrils!

Here's a photo of the fish squirming rapidly away to investigate crevices.
Here's the other three moray eels I saw. They were all large, very lively and busy hunting! These fishes used to be quite common on Tanah Merah before the spill. And one of the distressed fishes I saw the day after the oil spill hit this shore was a moray eel. So it's nice to see so many of them today, one year later!
It was very fishy on the shores! On a night trip, I usually focus on fishes which are generally more difficult to shoot during the daytime. I saw this pajama-striped fish again, and this time took a better photo. I still have no idea what it is.
Mystery fish no. 1
A bright pink fish with big eyes. Another mystery to me.
Mystery fish no. 2
I saw this large grouper with a mosaic-like pattern. It was about 20cm long.
Mystery grouper no. 3
I also saw a tiny grouper with a mosaic-like pattern. I also saw many small Chocolate hind (Cephalopholis boenak), also a grouper.
Mystery grouper no. 4
I saw one of these Shortnose halfbeaks (Hyporamphus quoyi).
Today I saw many colourful fishes including lots of tiny to small Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis),  several small Scissortail sergeants (Abudefduf sexfasciatus), many cardinalfishes (Family Apogonidae), damselfishes (Family Pomacentridae) large and small, and a medium-sized one Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus). There were also many Seagrass filefishes (Acreichthys tomentosus).
Some of the fishes I saw today were rather well camouflaged. I saw many Painted scorpionfishes (Parascorpaena picta), some False scorpionfishes (Centrogenys vaigiensis), one Fringe-eyed flathead, a few Spangled emperors (Lethrinus nebulousus), one small Pink-eared emperor (Lethrinus lutjan), a few Freckled goatfishes (Upeneus tragula), many small to medium sized Common mojara (Gerres oyena), many tiny to small White-spotted rabbitfishes (Siganus canaliculatus), and some small Streaked rabbitfishes (Siganus javus). There were also lots of gobies (Family Gobiidae).
When I first stepped into the water, I was greeted by squids (Family Loliginidae)! They were attracted to my torchlight!
This squid has inked a shape that resembles it, before zooming away.
There were also several large squids in the water. They also approached me in deeper water. They can rapidly change colours, from almost transparent ...
To a dark shade. I saw these squids last month too.
As I did last month, I also came across a dead squid. This one seems to have been 'captured' by two different animals living in two different burrows.
Another surprising encounter today were several small Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungidae)! Some were still stuck to a hard surface, while a few were already lying loose on the sand. Wow!
Here's the other mushroom corals I saw. Some were really tiny, others were small (about 10cm across).
There were also these two corals which might be Bracket mushroom corals.
I also saw a few tiny to small colonies of Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), what looks like a small Encrusting disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), and one small Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).
There are many large colonies of hard corals on a part of this shore.
Many of the large Pore corals (Porites sp.) I saw today were rather pale.
Most of the corals on this shore are Favid corals (Family Faviidae). Most of them seemed alright although some were rather pale.
I saw two Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.). There were also some large patches of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.).
There were all kinds of crabs and crustaceans on the shore today. The sea walls were crawling with small Purple climber crabs (Metopograpsus sp.), I saw two medium-sized Stone crabs (Myomenippe hardwicki), and one large Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus), many Blue-tailed prawns (Family Penaeidae), lots of small Spotted moon crabs (Ashtoret lunaris), and one large Mud crab (Scylla sp.). There were many small and a few large Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus), and many small Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) of all kinds.
I saw two Ornate Leaf slugs (Elysa ornata). But no other kinds of slugs, nudibranchs or flatworms ... yet?
I came across this pair of Spiral melongena snails (Pugilina cochlidium) huddled together, and also signs of their egg cases on hard surfaces. Some of the egg cases, however, seems to have been overgrown by algae. As usual, Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) covered vast areas of the sandy lagoon.
The most abundant seaweed today were Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.) and crunch pom pom seaweed that was growing on ropes and extensively on rockier parts of the shore.
I came across three clumps of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Two of the larger clumps looked fine with long blades that seemed  mostly green and clear of growths. The smallest clump I saw looked a little sad.
The two large patches of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) were doing well, with long blades mostly clean of growths. The Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) that have settled among these seagrasses are also still doing well. Many of them have a pair of Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis). One had a really tiny Five-spot anemone shrimp!
The patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) that was badly chomped when I saw it last month, is now lush with long blades! The patch also seems a little bigger.
The Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) seem to have started growing again in this lagoon! The leaf blades are tiny but they seem clean and green. Big fat Haddon's carpet anemones have settled among them.
I only saw three Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) today. They were widely spaced apart. But they seemed alright.
There are many Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta) on this shore. These long buried worms produce long coils of 'processed sand'. Some of the coils are clean others have dark to very dark sand. Does this mean there is still oil beneath the sand?
There's still a layer of sandy scum on the water everywhere, making it a bit of a challenge to shoot through the water. I left before dawn so I couldn't really see the full extent of crude on the shore. I got the sense that more sand has washed down onto the shore.
I'd like to think these little signs suggest things might be improving on this shore. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep up these monthly check ups.

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

Tomorrow, back to another part of Changi I haven't seen for a long time!

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