27 December 2011

Fun new sightings at Tanah Merah

A little fat pufferfish was my favourite find during a relaxing trip to Tanah Merah yesterday. Other first time sightings for this shore include a shrimp goby, a box crab and a strange moon snail.
Tired of being played out by higher-than-predicted tides over four consecutive days, we diverted our field trip to Tanah Merah. This shore is easy to explore even at rather high tides, though we have to brave the horrendous sand flies and scary stonefishes here.

So far, I've only seen the Yellow-eyed pufferfish (Arothron immaculatus) near reefs, so it was a nice surprise to see it on Tanah Merah. Another special fishy find was made by Derick, Eddy's friend. It's a Slender lined shrimp-goby (Cryptocentrus leptocephalus) and its partner snapping shrimp! The water was very murky! So it's great that he managed to spot them! It's our first sighting of this fish on Tanah Merah.
Marcus found this rather mouldy box crab! It's our first box crab sighting on Tanah Merah. I think it's the Reef box crab (Calappa hepatica).
I saw this strange little moon snail that I don't recall seeing. The shell pattern doesn't look like that of the Pink moon snail (Natica zonalis), or any of the other moon snails I've seen. I waited but the snail wouldn't come out of its shell. I wonder what it is!
I saw many more of these little shells, but all were of dead snails, although many had little hermit crabs in them.
Since I've already done the monthly post-oil spill survey of this shore very recently, I decided to just have fun exploring it randomly. Starting with a closer look at the seagrasses here. The patches of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) have grown huge!
As usual, there were several Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the seagrass patch and some had fat Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis).
I noticed a little snapping shrimp (Alpheus sp.) burrowing among the seagrasses.
There were lots and lots of Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) on the shore. But this bunch on the seagrass seems to be foraging outward in a circle. Hmm...I have no idea what is going on.
Most of the hermit crabs I saw were orange Striped hermit crabs (Clibanarius infraspinatus).
After patiently hunching over the sand for a long time, I finally managed a shot of the little animal that is the Dubious nerite (Clithon oualaniensis). Their pretty shells often distract from the animal itself. They all have cute pajama striped bodies, like many of their other nerite relatives.
As on our recent trips here, we saw a large Discodoris boholiensis nudibranch. James also found a small Gymnodoris nudibranch.
There were several patches of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.) on the shore. One patch was bright blue! With many little hermit crabs nestled among the polyps.
Eddy spotted this huge cuttlefish (Family Sepiidae)!
On the rocks was this neat row of egg capsules with the tiny eggs visible in them. It was probably laid by the Spiral melongena snail (Pugilina cochlidium).
How nice to see several little Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.) dotting the sandy shores today. The rest of the team also saw some huge Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).
We bumped into Eddy who had brought his friends to see this shore! How nice! They found some great creatures, and we shared some of what we found too. Andy found a very well camouflaged Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) and showed them how difficult it is to spot it, and thus why we need to be careful on this shore.
I didn't manage to photograph the stonefish that Andy found, but here's a slide show of some that I have seen on Tanah Merah. These fishes are ABUNDANT on Tanah Merah and superbly camouflaged.
Oh dear, some parts of the Smooth ribbon seagrasses (Cymodocea rotundata) had bleaching bases. But the Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) in the middle of the lagoon seems alright with long leaf blades and long female flowers. The patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) also seemed larger although the leaf blades were still chomped.
Alas, there is still lots of sheen on the shore. The water was very murky near the rocks.
Brown stains of crude still gather among the seagrasses and elsewhere on the shore. More about the oil spill on this blog and on the Oil spill facebook page.
We also came across this small fishing contraption on the shore. Nothing was caught in the trap. There were about 10 other people on the shore fishing or gathering marine life. One man had a large bag of snails, I could hear the snails rattling like marbles.
On the way home, after a nice sunset, we have a quick look at the bugs and beasts hiding among the undergrowth. What a surprise to see so many little baby lizards clinging on with four feet on the tippy tips of long grass blades! I guess this is a rather safe spot for them to have an evening snooze.
Finally, a rain-free and low-as-predicted tide! Tanah Merah seldom fails to surprise me and I'm quite optimistic that it will recover fully from the massive oil spill that hit it more than a year ago.

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

Posts by others about this trip
  • James with lots of close ups, a nudibranch and bugs and critters in the undergrowth.
  • Andy with video clip of the huge cuttlefish.

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