02 August 2012

Special Changi: a last look in 2012

We are back on a part of Changi we only just started visiting last month. It's still quite spectacular.
There were lots of these pretty Pink moon snails (Natica zonalis). One of them seems to be hard at work on a bivalve breakfast. The other  moon snail hoping for a share? We probably won't visit this shore again  until next year, so we take a good look at the amazing marine life there.

The Sea apple sea cucumber (Pseudocolochirus violaceus) was still there! It was clinging onto a glass bottle, sigh.
While there were many Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.), there were just as many Orange sea cucumbers. Many of them buried in the soft silty sand, and detected only by their flowery like feeding tentacles. I saw one purple sea cucumber and one beige sea cucumber.
I saw many brittle stars with flat arms today, a few Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber), some Painted sand stars (Astropecten sp.) and one Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera) . But I didn't come across any of the special sea stars I saw on my last trip.
The rest of the team thoroughly explored a more spectacular part of the shore. These include sea fans and interesting creatures such as this bluish feather star. I'm sure they will share more later about what they saw.
There were also many large Window pane clams (Placuna sp.). As usual, these are encrusted and provide hiding places for animals such as Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) which are abundant here.
I was wondering whether the furry looking thing was a slug. Only later realising that it wasn't, but that there WAS a slug there, a very tiny Strawberry slug. But it was difficult taking the photo in murking water plus swarms of some kind of small shrimps.
Here's a closer look at the little shrimps and the Strawberry slug (Costasiella sp.) which I haven't listed yet for Changi in my records.
Kok Sheng found lots of chitons (Class Polyplacophora)! These are actually molluscs like snails and clams, but have a cool flexible armour. After trying, I realise it's actually not easy to spot them!
Today, I came across several different kinds of snails entwined in one another. A pair of Drills (Family Muricidae) and Tiger moon snails (Natica tigrina). Mating? Or 'sharing' food? So much more to discover! I came across several large Noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis) while the rest of the team saw a Bailer snail (Melo melo).
I'm quite glad to finally see this Peachia anemone (Peachia sp.) with a brown body column that we've been looking for. During the last anemone workshop, we found several of brown ones among the many with white body columns. It's not certain whether the brown ones are something different. Nicholas is trying to sort them out, so it's good to have a closer look at several specimens.
Aha, this looks like the light burrower sea anemone that Dr Daphne is interested in. I managed to take a nice shot of its oral disk and body column before it retracted deep into the ground. Sigh. I also saw several Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi).
There were many Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), also Tiger anemones. Although they look like sea anemones,  cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia) are not true sea anemones. There were also many different kinds of sea pens, with the stick-like Slender sea pens (Virgularia sp.) being the most common, with white, pink and red ones poking out of the ground here and there.
Oh, a nice large jellyfish has washed up on the shore. Nicholas is studying the jellies, so I'm sure he will be glad to take a closer look at it.
I came across this strange crab. Marcus pointed out that it has hairy elbows! Marcus also found the strange crab that I saw on my earlier trip last month which I first thought was a Sally-light-foot crab (Grapsus albolineatus). But it seems to be something else.
I saw small patches of these long oval seagrasses. Are they Hairy spoon seagrass (Halophila decipiens)? Perhaps Siti can sort them out after she has a closer look at them. There were also lovely lush areas of  Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa), while Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) were the most abundant as usual.
The bloom of Sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) still covers much of the soft silty shore. All kinds of little critters hide in the green carpet of seaweeds and seagrasses. The fishes there blend right in the green stuff. There were many Seagrass pipefishes, filefishes and rabbitfishes.
As usual, I did the intertidal survey on this shore. Among the abundant animals today were large Black sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.), White sea urchins (Salmacis sp.), Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) and Pink warty sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps), also many Fan clams (Family Pinnidae). Here's a slide show of the transects of the survey.
I was glad not to see new abandoned fish traps on the shore. Seems like we took out the worst ones on our trip last month.

This shore seems to be doing much better than the shore we visited yesterday. This is why I feel it's important to protect long stretches of our shores. So if something happens on one part, the healthier parts can help produce babies and seeds to allow another part to heal.
It's only possible to see these special creatures during super low spring tides, which will end in early September. We probably have to wait until Mar-Apr 2013 to revisit this stretch. Hope they will do well until then!

Tomorrow, another frenzied last minute look at Changi, before we head south for the weekend. While it is exhausting to do the predawn trips, I will miss these special opportunities to visit some of our unexpectedly marvellous shores.

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