29 September 2011

Plan B: Lively Tanah Merah

TeamSeagrass is at Tanah Merah today, where we were greeted with all manner of marine life. The most delightful was this group of THREE Feathery filefishes (Chaetodermis penicilligerus). Small, medium and large, can you spot them?
We cancelled our scheduled TeamSeagrass monitoring trip to Cyrene Reef which is quite close to the big fire at the Shell refinery at Pulau Bukom. Renewed explosions at noon today suggested it was irresponsible to visit Cyrene, risking inhalation of fumes and getting in the way of people with a serious job to do.

Tanah Merah seldom fails to amaze, even though it suffered from a massive oil spill more than a year ago. I saw three of these cheerful looking Spotted orange hermit crabs (Dardanus megistos)! I also saw one Striped hermit crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus).
One of the hermit crabs seems to be disturbing a Spiral melongena snail (Pugilina cochlidium) that's in the process of laying egg capsules.
I also had a brief glimpse of this little fish before it scurried away. It looks like some kind of blenny (Family Blennidae).
Today, we saw lots of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus), many in 'mating position'. From sightings by the rest of the Team, there were more than 40 of them on the shore today.
There's still lots of Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) as well as tiny delicately patterned Dubious nerites (Clithon oualaniensis).
I saw a shy Stone crab (Myomenippe hardwicki) and many Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae). Crabs are more active and easily spotted during a night trip. Also many small shrimps. The bigger shrimps seem to only come out at night.
There's still many coral colonies here and there on the seawall. Besides the usually plentiful Pore corals (Porites sp.) and even more abundant Favid corals (Family Faviidae), I also saw one colony of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.) and Disk coral. I also saw two large patches of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.).
I did come across one colony of Pore coral with a white band and dead portions below a healthy brown portion. I'm not sure what is going on here.
Mei Lin found a washed up sea fan (Order Gorgonacea)! She and Marcus also spotted all kinds of other interesting marine life like the Bearded filefish (Anacanthus barbatus), Razorfish (Family Centriscidae), Batfish (Family Ephipiidae) and more! See their blogs for more (links below).
Siti and her colleagues are checking up the now humungous patch of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) that is growing here.
There's also the small patch of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), while Siti and her friends are looking at a patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) nearer the seawall.
The Sickle seagrass patch was rather chomped and not much bigger than when I last saw it. Siti says Sickle seagrass is often chomped. The Tape seagrass patch was flowering!
A closer look at Smooth ribbon seagrass. The blades have different kinds of leaf tips, from squarish to squarish with a dip in the centre, to smoothly rounded.
And here's a closer look at Tape seagrass. This seagrass has a very long leaf blade which is easily distinguished by the inrolled edges.
There was also small clumps of several different kinds of seaweeds on the shore today.
Today, there were four fishermen and this person with several bags who was slowly collecting something at the rock wall. I didn't manage to speak to him to see what he was doing.
In some parts of the shore, there are still 'pancakes' of crude, although these are covered with a thin layer of sand.
Here's another patch with crude just beneath the sand. A shallow kick reveals the black crude which smells as fresh as the day it landed on this shore more than a year ago.
The enormous amount of plastic litter on the high shore has been removed by International Coastal Cleanup two weeks ago. But new litter has landed on the shore.
Andy earlier told me that there are signs of new oil spill on Tanah Merah. Indeed, today I saw that an assortment of litter covered in varying amounts of oil.
Some of the litter seems to have a heavy coat of oil.
We had a very hazy sunset. NEA says the haze is not due to the fire at Bukom.
I do hope the fire situation at Pulau Bukom will be resolved soon, and hope the impact on the marine life on nearby natural shores will not be too great.

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

Others who posted about this trip
  • Meilin with awesome fish sightings and more!

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