20 September 2008

Sentosa sunset check up

Sentosa's last natural shore: how is it doing? Under pressure from reclamation for the Integrated Resort, and developments nearby at the Pasir Panjang Container Terminal, Jun and I decided to check out the shore. My last visit to this shore was in June.We are joined by Jo from threesixzero, who's thinking of doing a feature on our shores for an upcoming documentary.
The works that affected the large corals near the cable car tower has not extended to the shores opposite Underwater World. Yet? But the area on land has been cordoned off as a worksite.

As we slowly walk around this natural rocky shore and gorgeous natural cliffs draped with native plants, we came across some first sightings (for me anyway).Sand dollars! My first encounter on Sentosa. There were several of them. They look like the ones we commonly see on our Northern shores (Arachnoides placenta).And these strange little whelks (Family Nassaridae) that I've not seen before.

The rocky shores are teeming with Nerites, Drills, Turbans and other snails. I wonder if any of the newly recorded Nerites are here, but I'm really hopeless are identifying snails. We also saw a large octopus wandering about even though it was still daylight. There was one patient fisherman on the shore, he said he hadn't caught anything.Then, it was sunset. And what a glorious one it was. All pink and blue, making even the industrialised horizon look pretty. I know colourful sunsets are often the result of pollution, but it's hard not to appreciate the spectacle.The structure with a cone is the Tanjung Rimau beacon on the western most point of Sentosa. It faces Labrador (the dark lump in the horizon) where works are ongoing to develop a new terminal at Pasir Panjang.

As dusk fell, the party started on the shore.The coral rubble area is thickly covered with encrusting lifeforms. And among them, this tiny TINY octopus. See the little shrimp on the right for scale. It was simply the cutest little thing. Jun and I spent much time 'ooo'ing the creature, who simply ignore us and went about checking out the crevices for tiny morsels.There was also this cowrie that I've never seen before. Here's more views of this little cowrie (about 3cm long). Could it be Cypraea quadrimaculata? This cowrie is listed among the threatened animals of Singapore.The shores are teeming with little lifeforms. Tiny shrimps darted here and there, and tiny brittle stars were starting to stick their little arms from the holes in a sponge where they were hiding.Is this a brittle star that left the sponge?The hairy green seaweeds (Bryopsis sp.) that draped the shores were full of tiny little hairy sap-sucking slugs.And there was this pretty red striped shrimp that looked like it just moulted! See the transparent shrimp-shaped 'shell' on the right? Of course, I missed the moult completely and saw it only when I processed the photos.

As we walked along, we met many more octopuses of various sizes. As well as several of these long Giant reefworms (Eunice aphroditois).
This is the first time I've seen one completely out of its hiding place.I think the worm is quite beautiful. OK, first ignore the face that only a mother could love.And just focus on the beautiful iridescent body with feathery bits along the sides.

There were many little fishes, most of which ran away before I could take a photo of them. And this very large flatfish, that I accidentally disturbed. It buried itself with a few quick flips and couldn't be seen again as the water murked up.

There were some living hard corals on the shores: many Porites, Favids and some Turbinaria. I couldn't find the Acropora in the dark.
Several of the boulder-shaped Porites had many little white marks. Jun confirms these are nibbles by parrotfish. So we have parrotfishes coming by to the reef! That's nice. Fortunately, we didn't see bleaching hard corals. There were also several large leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) as is normally seen on this shore.

Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) and Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) were seen, scattered throughout the entire shore, and seemed alright.

So this natural shore on Sentosa is still alive, though it has seen better days. We'll just have to keep dropping by to check up on it.

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