27 March 2012

Fierce tiny fish at Tuas with TeamSeagrass

Back on the Tuas shore to with TeamSeagrass volunteers from Merck, led by Sheryl.
The seagrasses are doing fine and we also saw some interesting marine life even though the tide wasn't very low.

My find of the day was this tiny fish with serious fangs! It was only about 3cm long but it has a relatively large mouth filled with sharp teeth. I think it's an Indian halibut (Psettodes erumei). Although the halibut is considered a flatfish, it isn't as specialised as other flatfishes. It looks very much like a 'normal' fish that is flat (but thicker than other flatfishes). Besides swimming on its side, it may also swim upright like other 'normal' fishes. )
More about the state of seagrasses today on the TeamSeagrass blog. After the monitoring, the volunteers had a quick look around on this glorious blue sky day! In the distance is the green beacon, Merawang Beacon, which marks the start of the deep end of this Tuas shore, and Pulau Merambong which is part of Malaysia and has some awesome marine life.
There are lots of Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) on this shore. And they are all doing quite fine! These large animals come in various colours: blue, purple, green. We saw many of them. I didn't come across any that were bleaching.
There was an eeltail catfish (Family Plotosidae) stranded on the high shore.
I had a quick look in deeper water to see what the situation is like out there. But I only did the fringes of the shore and did not walk over to Merawang Beacon.
At the outer edge of the Tuas intertidal there is still a large band of Big coin green seaweed (Halimeda sp.) with many small clumps of other kinds of seaweeds. I didn't see any seagrasses here. There is a band of bare sand between the seagrasses on the high shore and this band of seaweeds.
How nice to see a small healthy Flowery disk corals (Turbinaria sp.).
I saw many small Ball flowery soft corals.
Oh, an uprooted Common sea pen (Pteroides sp.). Although we looked hard, we couldn't find any porcelain crabs living in it. I also didn't see any anemone shrimps in the anemones.
During the quick walk I saw the usual suspects: sponges, Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis), sea fans, a swimming anemone (Boloceroides mcmurrichi), fan worms (Family Sabellidae) and lots of Button zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.) and Sea mat zoanthids (Palythoa tuberculosa).
My previous trip here was in December 2011. It's good to see that this shore seems fine. And well looked after by Sheryl and the volunteers of Merck.

Opposite Tuas, across the Johor Strait are the Sungai Pulai estuary "possibly the richest marine bio-diversity spot in Malaysia" and gazetted a Wetland of International Importance in 2003. The area is already going to be impacted by plans to develop a massive petrochemical installation there. Recently, volunteers with Save our Seahorses in Malaysia have started surveying for dugongs using a blimp in this area. Sungai Pulai is one of the three Ramsar sites in Malaysia, that lies just across from Tuas.
The shore near Merawang Beacon is a part of this special area. Hopefully, greater awareness of Sungai Pulai will be raised among Singaporeans with plans to develop a cross-border tourist attraction involving Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and three Johor Ramsar sites of Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjong Piai.

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