04 June 2012

Seahorse, nudis and more at Punggol Beach!

I saw a tiny seahorse clinging onto sea fans growing on the rocky shore of Punggol Beach! It's so well camouflaged at first I thought it was just a piece of rubbish.
A small team devotes this super low spring tide to explore a shore that we don't often visit. And are pleasantly surprised by nudibranchs and other colourful marine life.


I came across several patches of Skinny sea fans (Order Gorgonacea).

As soon as I arrived, I saw this beady nudibranch Hoplodoris nodulosa on the jetty legs!
At first I thought this was a strange looking sea anemone.
It turned out to be the feathery gills of a very well camouflaged nudibranch Thordisa villosa! It has a distinctive yellow foot. The rest of the team also saw some other nudibranchs.
During my last trip here nearly a year ago, the rocks were rather bare and quiet. Today, the rocks and shores were coated in a thick layer of nest mussels (Musculista senhousia). Forming a thin beige carpet with folds over almost all surfaces at and below the low water mark. This carpet was dotted with many little to small Green mussels (Perna viridis). On the carpet were many busy Drill snails (Family Muricidae) which looked like they were feeding on the nest mussels.
Despite the carpet of nest mussels, there were lots of sponges of different kinds on the rocks.
The sponges here are teeming with life. Draped in brittle stars, stuffed with coweries, decorated with other encrusting animals, and spotted with feathery worms.
In this tangle of blue sponge, there were small fishes, tiny hermit crabs and big black sea urchin. There were lots of these Black sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.) everywhere today.
Here's more animals found on sponges: hermit crabs of all kinds, porcelain crabs, and more brittle stars!
Particularly abundant were blobs of all colours and patterns, clustered near one another. I've lumped all of them together as blob ascidians. I have no idea if they are all actually ascidians, and if they are the same kind of ascidians.
There are still lots of the Burgundy anemones (Bunodosoma goanese) that first brought me to this shore, after Mei Lin, Kok Sheng and James shared about finding them. Today, I noticed that most of them had their 'lips' extended in a kind of frilly shape. Some of them also had a bluish oral disk.
I also came across some that were close to one another, some even touching one another. I also took some better photos of the sea anemone out of water. It does tuck in its tentacles, and the bumps on its body leaves rows of spots. The anemones seem to be holding out against the enveloping carpets of nest mussels, hordes of crabs and sea urchins and other amazing life seen today.
I saw a large Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) with tiny anemone shrimps, a smaller carpet anemone and another carpet anemone which might be the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).
I came across one small cluster of what seems to be retracted Ball-tip corallimorphs and a small patch of something which might be zoanthids.
There were also many Ovum cowries (Cypraea ovum).
Lots of crabs on the shores, many of them were mating. Many Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) of all kinds, lots of Stone crabs (Myomenippe hardwicki) and we saw several tiny Sponge crabs (Family Dromiidae) carrying ascidians as a disguise.
There were lots of little shrimps of all kinds everywhere!
The shallows are teeming with little gobies as well as small cardinalfishes.
There were also some medium sized fishes lurking in the murky waters in rock crevices.

There were several Crown sea stars (Asterina coronata) of all colours and patterns on the rocks!
I saw this purple sea cucumber and some sponges had synaptid sea cucumbers (Family Synaptidae) draped over them.
There are lots and lots and LOTS of tiny feathery worms coating the lower portions of the rocks forming a living filter feeding carpet.
I'm wondering what these strange feathery worms are. Do they odd white tubes, or is that some kind of white ascidian that has encrusted their tubes?
Another abundant animal: coils of what appears to be worms but are actually snails! Worm snails (Family Vermitidae) are molluscs build tubular shells stuck on hard rocks and like other snails, have tentacles and a 'door' or operculum to seal the shell opening.
We saw some seagrasses near the jetty. The leaf blades were very narrow but I took a closer look and it doesn't seem to have hairs. Also the leaf stalk is rather short. So it's probably not Halophila decipiens. But we'll let Siti have a look.
This rocky shore lies opposite the Pasir Gudang port and industrialised coast of Johor, across the narrow Johor Strait.
Despite the murky water, the rock shore here is surprisingly rich. But of course, this can only be glimpsed at super low spring tide which happens very early in the morning. 2am wake up call today, and we ended before sunrise.

Tomorrow, more exploration at an ungodly hour!

Posts by others on this trip
  • Mei Lin with slugs, fishies and more. 
  • Pei Yan with eggy and feathery critters. 
  • Kok Sheng with colourful marine life.

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