18 May 2014

Living reefs and shores at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Amazing corals, seagrasses and other marine life have settled on the artificial shores near Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
At sunrise, a small team head out to survey the situation. On our way home, from the car the team spotted 3 otters in the canal near the Terminal!


Corals have settled naturally on Tanah Merah's artificial shores! Some of the team surveyed the stunning variety of corals and marine life near the Ferry Terminal: Check out Kok Sheng's blog post! The artificial shores of Tanah Merah are an unintended experiment which shows that beautiful and interesting marine life can settle naturally on seawalls and artificial structures!
Photo by Koh Kwan Siong on facebook.
Since The Foot isn't quite back to normal  yet, I surveyed the sandy area. The seawalls here also have some corals! How nice to see several clumps of baby Fungia mushroom corals still stuck on the rocks. As they grow up, they detach and live freely on the surface. Also in the photo, a tiny colony of Flowery disk coral, I saw many such tiny colonies.
Some special corals I saw include a colony of Boulder sandpaper coral. Which looks like the more common Pore corals. I also saw one colony of Galaxy coral and Anemone coral.
As usual, the most abundant corals are Favid corals. I didn't see any bleaching corals, although some of the Pore coral colonies were very pale.
I saw this little young Batfish, it was pooping!
In the murky water was a big 'sotong', probably a Bigfin reef squid.
And several little squids.
When I saw the egg strings, I started to look around for the mother and nearby was this little Spider conch.
The entire sandy shore is covered in Bazillion snails and Dubious nerites. Other snails seen included: a Dolphin snail, Spotted top shell snail, Olive whelk, Oval moon snail and an unidentified snail,  
There were also several large Frilly sea anemones, some fanworms, many Thumbs up sea squirts, and several small patches of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones.
I came across what I thought was a small Giant carpet anemone. And next to to it, a pair of male-female anemone shrimps! I also saw some small Swimming crabs and Moon crabs. The water was too murky to spot fishes, and they all went into hiding at sunrise. Alas, I didn't come across any Common sea stars.
The patches of Smooth ribbon seagrasses have grown very large! In Singapore, this species of seagrass is only abundant at Chek Jawa and Cyrene Reef.
The Ribbon seagrass patches are dotted with Haddon's carpet anemones and bunches of crunchy red seaweed. There were also many bunches of Mermaid fan seaweed on the rocks.
The big patch of Tape seagrass is still there and doing well. I saw another patch of Tape seagrass too and it was producing female flowers.
The patch of Sickle seagrass is a little bigger, but all the leaf blades are cropped short. Oh dear.
The Spoon seagrass are coming back in small patches where they used to carpet large areas.
Among the seagrasses was the only nudibranch I saw today. This black Gymnodoris with little yellow spots is quite commonly encountered elsewhere too.
At sunrise, a pair of men arrived on the shore. One was vigorously catching all kinds of large fishes with his bare hands, in the small pools left behind at low tide and under rocks. Including this very large needlefish.
Another pair of men were also foraging the shore with plastic bags. On the horizon is Singapore's central business district.
There were still dark streaks under the sand. I'm not sure if this is from the massive oil spill that landed on this shore in 2010 and was not cleaned up. After the oil spill, I visited these shores every month for two years to see how they were doing.
There isn't much trash on the beach. From my previous trips here, I sense there is a kind of seasonal build up of floating plastic trash on this shore.
My last trip to this shore was in Sep 2013. The shores near Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal are now off limits and trespassers will be arrested, such as this incident in Nov 2013. We obtained a permit to do our survey today.

Photos and stories by others on this trip
It's so nice to see so many different trips going on during low spring tide! Singapore has many shores to survey, monitor and keep up with! Here's some of the other trips that happened this weekend.
  • TeamSeagrass monitored Chek Jawa.
  • The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum folks went to Kusu Island.
  • Rene Ong surveyed Lazarus Island on facebook.
  • Sijie brought more of his students and school staff to Cyrene Reef, on facebook
Sadly, Rene reported some bleaching corals at Lazarus: "A few corals bleaching, not a small portion, but whole colonies... Also measured the water temperature (30.2 degC)"
Photos by Rene Ong on facebook.

Meanwhile Chay Hoon reported that at Kusu Island: "Corals look rather okay at Kusu though some look rather pale and with lot of slime. At least so far they are not totally white!" 

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