08 March 2009

Back to Berlayar

The fascinating mangroves next to Labrador leads to a rocky shore at the sea front.
Patricia and I spend a scorching hot day checking it out.

The rocky shore is quite interesting, although in the heat, all the animals were well hidden.There were some determined Onch slugs (the lumpy thing on the top left corner of the photo) sluggishly sliding on the warm rocks. As well as lots of Nerites of different colours. Most looked like they were Nerita histrio.There were also the usual Dwarf turban snails (Turbo brunneus) (photo on the right), as well as some Spotted top shell snails (Trochus maculatus) (photo on the left).
There were some Wandering cowrie snails (Cypraea errones). Most people only recognise the living snail when the animal is fully retracted and reveals its shell opening with 'teeth'.And under a stone, this snail which I usually see on our Northern shores. I think it's Common triton snail (Gyrineum natator) but I'm not sure.A special find for me was this snail with a flower-like shell. Kok Sheng blogged about seeing this snail on Lazarus and Chee Kong suggested it might be Astraea calcar. It's my first time seeing this snail!
Alas, I didn't see much encrusting organisms on the rocky areas. There was one clump of purple sponge. And one colony of hard coral. But the tide wasn't very low today. Perhaps more might be revealed at a lower tide?

Near the rocky area, there are patches of seagrasses!
They were Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis), in rather thick growths!

There were different kinds of animals in the seagrasses.Hermit crabs were hiding from the heat in their borrowed shells. There were Striped hermit crabs (Clibanarius sp.) and Tidal hermit crabs (Diogenes sp.) of various sizes.There were also several living Window pane shells (Placuna sp.). You can see the delicate patterns on the living animal that creates these beautiful thin shells. Unfortunately, these animals are over-harvested in other parts of the world to make tacky tourist souvenirs.The pools of water shelter tiny fishes such as this Shadow goby (Acentrogobius nebulosus). It doesn't seem very shy probably because it is poisonous to eat. It contains tetrodotoxin (the same toxin found in pufferfishes) in its flesh and internal organs. In some places, it is called the Poisonous goby. And in a deeper pool, a small Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)! These anemones usually shelter False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris). But I couldn't find any in this one.And what are these? Strange eggs? Weird globular creatures? Alas, they are golf balls that have accumulated in large numbers on the shores. This poor Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) is nearly overwhelmed by the golf balls.

We then check out the large trees on the slopes of Bukit Chermin. There was one very large Sea almond tree (Terminalia catappa), resplendent in red leaves.

Another large tree was this one.
I have no idea what it is, but it was flowering and fruiting at the same time.Another very large tree had pointy bluish leaves with bronzey undersides. And tiny flowers emerging from the twigs. I have no idea what it is either. But I know this tree, it's the Saga seed tree (Adenanthera pavonina) which produces the shiny hard bright red seeds that children find so fascinating!

As the tide was still low, Patricia and I decided to have a look at the mangroves on the Keppel Club side of the Creek.Right at the mouth was a magnificent Rhizophora stylosa! Yesterday, Dr Jean Yong very kindly responded to yesterday's blog post about Berlayar and shared that "most importantly, botanically speaking for Singapore, Tanjung Berlayar is the only place on Singapore mainland to have at least 10 trees of Rhizophora stylosa." So we were very lucky indeed to see one. This tree is indeed elegant with white flowers on drooping long stalks.The mangroves on this side had lots of fiddler crabs. This one seems to be the Orange fiddler (Uca vocans). And in a little stream, I spotted a little moon crab (Family Matutidae) dashing off before burying itself in the soft mud.Of course, where there is mud, there are mudskippers (Family Gobiidae). This little one obligingly stayed very still on a leaf as I struggled in soft mud to take its photo. I have no idea what kind of mudskipper it might be.

Among the trees, kingfishers were calling and I saw one Pied fantail madly dashing about the dense branches. Alas, the mangrove got thick very quickly and we couldn't push on.On the way home, a final treat. A small gathering of the pretty, tiny Dubious nerites (Clithon oualaniensis). I've generally come across these snails near mangroves and with freshwater sources. So it's great to see them at Berlayar Creek.

Alas, a less happy sight greeted us on the way back.
With the incoming tide, two men were busy setting a series of drift nets across the Creek. There was this net in the water.
Another one that seemed to stretch across from Labrador to the Keppel Club shore.And even one strung across the trees! You can barely see the horizontal lines of the net, much less the transparent netting. And neither can the hapless creatures that will be swimming in with the tide. Most of the creatures will simply be thrown away by the fishermen.What is worse is that these driftnets are often abandoned on the shores. Where they continue to kill indiscriminately. Crabs, fishes, horseshoe crabs get entangled and die a slow and painful death. Elsewhere, airbreathing marine mammals such as dolphins, dugongs and seals also get trapped and drown in abandoned fishing gear. Ivan has recently blogged about the ills of abandoned driftnets.


  1. Wow... two days in a row! Patricia must've learnt a lot from your knowledge of the shores! Besides being roasted by today's scorching sun.

  2. Great pictures, and thanks for the R. stylosa!

    The tree with purple fruit is the Sparrows' mango, otak udang, Buchanania arborescens in the mango family (Anacardiaceae).

    The next one is the sea gutta, menasi, Pouteria obovata in the chiku family (Sapotaceae).

    YAP Von Bing

  3. Thank you for the IDs Yap Von Bing! Finally I learn what these beautiful trees are! Most grateful for your help!



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