13 February 2013

Tanah Merah shores still alive!

Hit by the massive oil spill in May 2010, this shore is still alive! There are lots of Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in a large and growing patch of Ribbon seagrasses at Tanah Merah.
Kok Sheng also spotted nudibranchs, a stonefish and other marine life.

It was good to see many Moon crabs (Ashtoret lunaris) out and about on the shore, including some large ones.
I saw a few small Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) including this pair that look like they were about to mate. They seem awfully small to be of reproductive size.
This Reef murex (Chicoreus sp.) seems to be working on getting into a Large cockle (Family Cardiidae). The murex can drill through shell but it takes time, so I left them alone.
A small squid zoomed past me in the murky water.
I didn't come across many corals today because the water was high and murky and I didn't complete the entire seawall. But I did come across a large but half dead Acropora coral (Acropora sp.). Most of the corals I saw were Pore corals (Porites sp.) with some Favid corals (Family Faviidae). Most seemed alright except for one large Pore coral which appears to be suffering from some kind of disease.
There were also many patches of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.) which are sometimes mistaken for hard corals.
I only came across two large Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). Lots of Dubious nerite (Clithon oualaniensis) and Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) still cover large parts of the sandy lagoon.
The Smooth ribbon seagrasses (Cymodocea rotundata) were doing well. With two large and lush patches. The leaf blades were nice and long and I didn't see any burnt or bleaching blades.
How nice to see that Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) have started growing among the Ribbon seagrasses.
There was also one large Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra) among the Ribbon seagrasses.
The big clump of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) is still there and doing well. Unlike the spectacular sunset the day before, we had a muted sunset on this trip.
The large patch of Tape seagrass is blooming again, with female flowers. Another tiny clump of Tape seagrass on the shore had male flowers.
The Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) patch is doing well and I saw large patches of small Spoon seagrasses in the middle of the lagoon.
There wasn't much seaweed on the shore. The most abundant were Padina sp. with small clumps here and there of various other kinds of seaweeds.
I got distracted by the flowering Casuarina trees (Casuarina equisetifolia). Although they look like pine trees, these are actually flowering trees. The male flowers are skinny and long, while the female flowers are club-shaped. The male and female flowers appear on separate trees.
There were lots of little animals in the trees. Like this large winged green ant (a new queen?) and a furry jumping spider that seems to be eyeing the ant.
There was also a tiny moth with a fluffy thing on its butt which puffed up every now and then. Dispersing phermones? There's so much more to see even at the shoreline.
The Siemens project is still there. Pipes leading out from the project onto the shore seems to be breaking up. I'm not sure what is going on. More about my correspondence with Siemens about this project.
There were lots of people on the furthest end of the shore. Some were on the seawall, others were on the shore and seem to be foraging, holding bags and buckets.
This oyster was just broken into. Oysters take a long time to grow to this large size and the oysters on Singapore's shores don't contain valuable pearls. I wouldn't eat any marinelife found on this shore.
Although there is not much sign of the oil spill on the surface of the sand, one hint of what is going on beneath the sand is to see what the burrow creatures bring up from below. The sand balls brought up by the burrowing Sand bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.) seem alright and most of the sand piles created by burrowing Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta) were pale, although a few were very dark.
There are still traces of dark under the sand surface, and the water near the seawall was murky with a layer of scum.
My last visit here was in Dec 2012. I visited the shore every month after the oil spill, but have recently eased up to less regular trips. There are too many other shores to check up. Hopefully, the situation at Tanah Merah will improve.

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

Check out Kok Sheng's blog post with lots of other fabulous animals that he saw on this trip.

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