14 December 2011

Butterflyfishes on oil-slicked Tanah Merah

I saw four Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) on our trip yesterday! Three tiny and one was medium-sized.
Although it was rather 'quiet' we see other colourful and interesting marine life too!

Often overlooked, masses of teeny tiny Dubious nerites (Clithon oualaniensis) in a bewildering variety of colours and patterns.
I checked under stones and it's lively down there! Lots of little snails, clams, keel worms, onch slugs and this pair of snapping shrimps (Family Alpheidae).
The Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the now large Ribbon seagrass meadows seem to be doing well and many had Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)!
Crustaceans out and about included a large and handsome Spotted orange hermit crabs (Dardanus megistos), many Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) of all kinds, small Spotted moon crabs (Ashtoret lunaris), a Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus)! Also many small Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus). There were also many shrimps small and large especially after sunset.
What a surprise to see this small Swimming anemone (Boloceroides mcmurrichi) stuck to a rock.
Not too many fishes were out and about so soon after sunset. And most were too deep in murky water. But this little Silverside (Atherinomours duodecimalis) seemed attracted to my torch and I managed to take a good look at it.
Oh, another humungous nudibranch!  It's Discodoris boholiensis which I seem to be seeing regularly now at Tanah Merah.
And this is a flatworm, the Spotted black flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.) which I've also been seeing recently at Tanah Merah.
The fan worms seem to be doing well. There were many of them, both the brown banded ones and orange ones. Some were found in clusters like this bunch.
I also saw many snails: a small colourful Pink moon snail (Natica zonalis), a medium sized Dolphin shell snail (Angaria delphinus), many conical Spotted top shell snail (Trochus maculatus) and lots of Dwarf turban snails (Turbo bruneus).
There are lots of signs of life on the sandy shore. Crab holes, some Acorn worm casts, and this series of little claw marks punctuated by spots where digging has been going on. I realise this is made by foraging Ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus).
The hard corals seem to be doing well but were hard to photograph in the murky water. I also saw a large cluster of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.) (long photo on the right).
Oh, a mangrove seedling has settled in the middle of the lagoon!
The seagrasses are doing very well! The two large patches of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) had long leaf blades. The small patch of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) in the middle of the lagoon seems alright with long leaf blades! The patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) had rather chomped leaf blades though, and I didn't come across any Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
Marcus said he saw many Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) although I missed seeing them.

The upper shore was totally clear of plastic trash! But crude oil still remained on large areas of the low shore.
Just beneath the sand, crude as fresh as the day it landed more than a year ago. Producing sheen in the water. The lagoon had a sheen of oil in large parts, and I could see a haze of hydrocarbons in the water as I tried to photograph through it.
Marcus took great photos of the amazing variety and number of insects and spiders found in the vegetation by the shore!
The shore is usually much livelier during predawn trips. Alas, the morning low tides are still many months away.

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


  1. this blog is full of the most amazing creatures and plants. wildlife in singapore is incredible! i've never seen anything like the dubious nerites -- fantastic colors and patterns!

  2. Thanks for dropping by the blog Daricia, and for your kind comment. You have a great blog too! So colourful!



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