29 November 2011

Living natural reefs of Sentosa

Sentosa has a stretch of natural reefs, seagrass meadows and magnificent cliffs cloaked in rare coastal forests.
Yesterday, I carefully checked out the area for the first time in a long while. How nice to come across this pretty nudibranch, Chromodoris lineolata!

How nice to see a tiny Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus).
Wow, a small Peacock sole (Pardachirus pavoninus)! My first sighting for Sentosa!
I carefully looked before taking every step since Shao Wei stepped on a stonefish here earlier this year. This fish is just a Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta). Phew.
There were also many small blue Tropical silversides (Atherinomorus duodecimalis) and some tiny False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis).
As night fell, the octopuses came out! Hurray!
Here's more octopuses out and about on the shore!
There were lots of small swimming crabs of all kinds (Family Portunidae), and I saw one very large Mud crab (Scylla sp.)! I only saw one Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus) and one Hairy crabs (Family Pilumnidae).
Sentosa was where I first saw this strange black spotted hermit crab (Clibanarius viriscens). How nice to see it again.
I came a little too early and the tide was still high. So I spent a lot of time observing and photographing this beautiful Giant top shell snail (Trochus niloticus) that I found on the high shore. It has a bright orange 'door' with concentric circles, and a rather gaudy 'face'.
The rocky shore teems with life. Both on the rocks and hiding under stones: Little snails, limpets, sea anemones, clams and more!
On the reef, I saw one small Ovum cowrie (Cypraea ovum) and several Elegant banded creeper snails.
There are still a few large hard corals alive and well on the shore. Sentosa was among the worst hit during the mass coral bleaching in 2010. And I have a sense that most of the corals didn't survive.
Most of the surviving corals were boulder shaped Pore hard coral (Porites sp.). Most were medium sized (about 20cm in diameter) with many much smaller ones. Some were pinkish or pale, but most were a nice healthy brown.
The next most abundant kind of hard coral were Favid coral (Family Faviidae). There were also some Small goniopora corals (Goniopora sp.) and I saw one rather twisted Disk coral (Turbinaria sp.).
I only saw two small Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae), and several small clumps of feathery soft corals.
I noticed fine hair-like stuff that seems to be secreted by a leathery soft coral.
The stuff was not just straight filaments but some had this kind of pattern with loops on a straight line. I have no idea what is going on.
There were some (but not many) Frilly anemones (Phymanthus sp.) of all kinds.
There were small clumps of various kinds of sponges including: Yellow many-coned sponge (Spheciospongia sp.), Smooth blue sponge (Lendenfeldia cf. chondrodes),  Yellow prickly branching sponge (Pseudoceratina purpurea), Melted chocolate sponge (Chondrilla australiensis), Blue jorunna sponge (Neopetrosis sp.) and Daisy sponge (Coelocarteria singaporensis). As well as Chocolate sponges (Spheciospongia cf. vagabunda).
In some parts of the shore, the Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) seems chomped. But in other parts, they were nice and long.
Scanning for critters among the seagrasses, I spot this strange creature that was stuck to the seagrass with a sucker. Is it a fish leech? Eeks.
The Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) was not yet in full bloom on this shore. There was just as much Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) as Sargassum seaweed. There was also a sprinkling of other kinds of seaweeds including: Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.), Neomeris sp, Parvocaulis parvulus and more.
Among the most precious treasures on this shore are the native coastal plants that cloak the natural cliffs. These include curtains of Raffles' pitcher plants (Nepenthes rafflesiana) which is listed as Vulnerable.
Other special plants include these Critically Endangered plants: Delek air (Memecylon edule) which is fruiting! And lots and lots of Sea Teak (Podocarpus polystachyus). The two Nyireh trees (Xylocarpus rumphii) found here looked fine. But they were not flowering or fruiting.

This natural Sentosa shore lies opposite the massive reclamation works for the new Pasir Panjang Container Terminal.
The shore lies next to a busy shipping channel where vessels large and small rush by.
Another issue on this shore is natural erosion and tree falls. Almost everytime I come to the shore, I notice a new tree fall.
Let's hope this precious sliver of natural reef on Sentosa can continue to thrive despite these pressures.

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