23 January 2015

Starry at Changi

Changi is teeming with sea stars! A small team surveys this shore for the first time in a year.
This area has one of the lushest seagrass meadows on the mainland and I was worried because we noticed the seagrasses were sparse in 2012.

We arrive a little early and some of the shore is already exposed!
So it was a relief to see that the seagrass meadows here are now super lush!
All the three seagrass species we usually see here are doing very well. There were lots of healthy Fern seagrass, large leaved Spoon seagrass and Needle seagrass everywhere. Today, we didn't see any dugong feeding trails although perhaps this is because the tide wasn't that low and we couldn't see the seagrasses in deeper waters.
Seagrass meadows provide shelter and food for a wide range of marine life. From crabs to sea urchins and clams! There were many small White sea urchins but not as plentiful as in the past. Crabs seen include various small Swimming crabs and small Moon crabs. There were also various hermit crabs.
Kwan Siong found this baby Knobbly sea star just as we were about to leave. It is very well camouflaged among the seagrass! There were large numbers of small Biscuit stars, Painted sand stars and Plain sand stars. Other sea stars we saw included small Cake sea stars and small Spiny sea stars. We didn't see any Pink sand dollars.
There were lots of sea cucumbers. About equal numbers of Pink warty sea cucumbers (below) and Thorny sea cucumbers. There were also many small Garlic bread sea cucumbers. The team also found a See-through sea cucumber.
Shannon pointed out this fish that I totally didn't notice. I'm not sure what it is.
There were many Hammer oysters, some laying on the ground, others buried with the T-shaped side down. There were also many small to medium sized Fan clams, and a few small Window pane shells.
Fan shells provide the few stable hard surfaces in a seagrass meadow. This valuable real estate is often quickly taken over by other animals such as this Purple branching sponge.
Among the snails on the shore was a small Noble volute and one Miliaris cowrie There were a lot of Black-lipped conch snails! There was a man collecting a plastic bag full of Gong gong. We didn't come across sand bars (Mei Lin says they are now in deeper water), so we didn't see the sandy shore snails.
I saw one small Haddon's carpet anemone and one cerianthid. It was a daylight trip, so perhaps that's why we didn't see the sea pencils and other sea pens usually common here.
There were many Big brown mactra clams washed up on the shore, these are usually buried. Also many 'uprooted' (the usually buried) Ball sea cucumbersSmooth sea cucumbers. I'm not sure if this is normal.
As usual, we find it hard to leave while the tide remains low. Today, we are joined by Victor Tang who is doing a film about Singapore's shores! We are glad to show him some of the cool creatures found at Changi.
Our last visit here was in May 2013. This shore is one of the few places where we found Synpeachia temasek, a new genus and new species of sea anemone is described from Singapore!
Jianlin Liu and friends visited another part of Changi on the same day and saw more cool creatures!

On the way to this shore, I noticed two large barges with large cranes on the beach at Carpark 6. It appears that they are working on a large drain there. I hope this doesn't affect the marine life found on the shore.
There are so many threats big and small to our beautiful wild shores. The more of us keep an eye on them, the better it will be.

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