31 March 2009

Sharing Sentosa with ITE

Another fabulous sunrise, sadly over the reclamation site at Sentosa for the Integrated Resort.
I was there with an intrepid team of ITE students and teachers led by Cecilia, to share with them what a real natural shore looks like.

We checked out the sandy beach behind Underwater World which previously had Carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) with anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) as well as branching hard corals. See this post about my last trip there nearly a year ago, and a trip before reclamation started.
The area in front of this soft shore has become a construction site, with drainage going right onto the beach. Nevertheless, there was still lots of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis), some Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). And one of the ITE team spotted an egg case of a shark! It was already empty though.

As the tide was rather short, we quickly headed out for the Tanjung Rimau beacon. The rocky shores were very much alive with all kinds of snails typical of this kind of habitat. We had a look at the Nerite snails (Family Neritidae) as well as Turban snails (Family Trochidae). We also talked about how snails and other marine organisms reproduce and disperse.A little further along, we look at the many Onch sea slugs (Family Onchididae) crawling about on the stones. This made us realise that the shores are alive! And that we should watch our step.
We also spot lots of large sand dollars on the sandy stretches. These sand dollars (probably Arachnoides placenta) were large and fast moving! But many were half buried in the sand. Another reason to be careful of where we stepped.

After admiring the natural cliffs, and peering into rock pools with hard corals and all kinds of little fishes.We head around the point at Tanjung Rimau onto the reef flats!

And come across the first of special sightings.The Giant top shell snail (Trochus niloticus) is quite rare and it's my first time seeing it on Sentosa! I've so far only seen it on Sisters Island, Pulau Hantu and Raffles Lighthouse.Here's what the animal looks like...well, out of water. Underwater he is more handsome I am sure.As we continued to explore the clear clear waters of this reef flat, we discovered more interesting marine life.
Such as the pretty Mosaic reef crab (Lophozozymus pictor)! We saw another smaller one further on.

These crabs are the most poisonous crabs in Singapore. Their toxins are not destroyed by heat or cooking. These crabs should never be eaten. Eating them can cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning which can lead to death. There is no antidote to their toxins. While these crabs may be poisonous, they are not venomous. That is, they cannot introduce their toxins by stinging or biting. But nevertheless, it's best to leave these crabs alone. For example, those who are allergic might get a reaction by even touching these crabs. We admired them from a distance.
The reef flats have some hard and soft corals. And some of them were quite large.The students really took to heart my explanation that hard corals took a long time to grow. Some grow only 1cm a year, so a large coral could be our grandpa. The young ladies respectfully addressed this humungous coral as "Ah Kong" or 'grandfather'!

We saw lots of other little fishes, crabs, examined seaweeds and discussed other little creatures that we came across.

We also saw blooming and fruiting Tongkat Ali plants! I've done a separate post about this intriguing plant.

Alas, all too soon, the tide came in and I ran out of steam after talking for two hours. And it was time to go home. We forgot to take a group photo on the natural shores of Sentosa. But remembered just in time to pose on the artificial beach of Sentosa.

Our natural shores may appear messy, but they sure are more fun to explore. And I had a great time sharing them with the friendly team from ITE.

More links
You can also download this free high-res poster of Sentosa's natural shores on wildsingapore flickr.
A4 Poster: Sentosa's natural shore

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