13 December 2011

Nudis at oil-slicked Tanah Merah

The nudibranchs seem to be back at Tanah Merah which was hit by a massive oil spill in May 2010. Although the tide wasn't very low, we managed to find lots of interesting marine life.
This huge (about 15cm) Discodoris boholiensis was in deeper water. Kok Sheng and James found two other kinds of nudibranchs! More about these on Kok Sheng's blog.

I've tried to visit these Tanah Merah shores every month since the spill, but haven't had a chance to visit this stretch since Aug 2011. It was great to have company on this trip, and more eyes to find more critters.
Nicholas spotted a pair of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) in mating position. And also a small four-armed sea star. In total I saw about 10 of the sea stars.
There were many fishes near the rocks but the water was too murky to photograph them. I saw a large Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus) and a Painted scorpionfishes (Parascorpaena picta). Kok Sheng saw a Stonefish! I could only photograph this cute little Mosaic dragonet (Callionymus enneactis).
In a rocky portion of the sand flats, there were lots of elbow crabs (Family Parthenopidae)! Kok Sheng found some other kinds of crabs too.
I also saw this large but well camouflaged Penaeid prawn (Family Penaeidae).
There were also lots of small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) here. I didn't see any with anemone shrimps, but Kok Sheng saw some.
There were lots of snail out on the sandy shore: Black lipped conch (Strombus urceus), Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella), Margined conch (Strombus marginatus), Oval moon snails (Polinices mammila), Common whelks (Nassarius livescens) and Firebrand murex (Chicoreus torrefactus). I also saw several large living Fan clams (Family Pinnidae), while Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) only covered a small part of the rockier areas.
I came across four Common cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia), the most number that I've seen since the oil spill.
The large Bracket mushroom coral with fan worm is still there and seems fine.
This stretch of Tanah Merah has a variety of corals and all seemed alright: a large encrusting plate montipora coral (Montipora sp.) is growing in tiers, a small Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), a small Brain coral (Family Mussidae) and Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).
The small Acropora coral (Acropora sp.) colony here seems alright.
There were also many Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), from tiny ones about 1cm across to medium sized ones about 10cm across.
There were also lots of Pore corals (Porites sp.). Most seemed alright.
There are lots of Favid corals (Family Faviidae) on this shore. And most of them seem to be doing well.
The leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) there seems to be growing larger.
I saw this small patch of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.). But I didn't see any Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).
The Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) are back! A sprinkling of small leaves, most were fresh and green although some patches had reddish leaves, a sign of 'sunburn'. I also saw a small patch of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) in deeper water.
Crude oil still remains on the shore, but is buried deeper under a thicker layer of sand. There was also sheen over much of the water.
Perhaps the recent rainy weather led to more sand being washed out onto the intertidal? There seems to be a steeper slope on the sandy beach at the mid water mark.
What a lovely surprise today to see that the upper shore is totally clear of plastic trash! International Coastal Cleanup Singapore will be starting a year-round cleanup on these shores.
We can see the city skyline from this shore, and weather seems to be building. But it only started to drizzle when we ended the trip.
Later this evening, I'll be doing the other stretch of Tanah Merah.

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

Posts by others on this trip
  • Kok Sheng with nudis, flatworms, special crabs and snails and lots more!

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