30 April 2009

Another side of Sentosa

Sentosa has a good stretch of natural shores at Tanjung Rimau. Are there any other interesting shores on Sentosa? Ivan of the Lazy Lizard Tales blog had featured interesting marine life at Siloso Beach.
Today, it wasn't very low, but I thought I'd check out some other parts of Sentosa. This stretch looked interesting on Google Earth.

Arriving early before the tide was low, I slid down the rocks to the narrow sandy stretch slowly emerging.The slippery stuff on the rocks is of course algae and this is food for all kinds of animals such as the many scampering sea slaters (Ligia sp.). Although sometimes called sea cockroaches, these are crustaceans like shrimps and prawns, and are not insects!At first I mistook this for one of the scurrying slaters. But this tiny creature IS an insect. It's a shore cricket!Also grazing on the algae are placid Nerite snails. Lots of them! These animals have thick round shells like half a marble. When disturbed, they let go and bounce harmless around on the rocks. A most effective way to escape predators!Most of the Nerite snails I saw were Waved nerites (Nerita undata) . They come in a wide variety of colours and patterns. While this might resemble the Lined nerite (Nerita articulata), the Waved nerite has a more pointy spire and the underside is different. The Lined nerite is more usually found in and near mangroves.
This is another kind of Nerite snail called the Ox-tongue nerite (Nerita albicilla) because the underside has pimples so that it resembles the tongue of an ox.Another snail commonly found on seawalls is the Toothed top shell snail (Monodontia labio). It has a little tooth-shaped structure at the shell opening.The rocks lower down were covered in larger algae. Although this hairy stuff might be cyanobacteria.
There were patches of tiny Sea lettuce (Ulva sp.) that we last encountered in vast amounts on the Northern shore earlier in the week.As well as some kind of branching brown or red seaweed. I'm not sure what they are.
Here's a bigger clump of them. The tide didn't seem to be going down much lower. And the weather turned ominous and I thought it best to leave before the worst hit the shore. The tide wasn't yet at its lowest. From the way the waves broke on the water, there might be some coral growths, but probably deeper in the water.
At a corner of the shore, there was a big pipe leading to the sea. What is it discharging? I don't know.

As I headed back, I nipped by quickly to have a look at the artificial bay.

An artificial shore, while attractive to humans, are almost devoid of marine life. How different from places such as Changi where life has returned in a bewildering variety!

But even in a nearly sterile beach like Sentosa, nature creeps back where it can.On the high shore, nature plants a shore garden with colourful purple blossoms of the Sea shore morning glory.A baby Rhu tree with young Sea hibiscus and Sea lettuce! All for free, absolutely natural.
Near the high water mark, are regular holes. They look like they were made by Ghost crabs. These crabs are rarely seen in daylight.Delicate bird prints around the crab hole, another sign of nature poking about.Nature is also taking away the sand on the beach? There seems to be a fair bit of erosion at the high water mark. Must be quite alarming for bathers at high water when they encounter a sudden plunge. Hmmm.It's still very early and the cleaners haven't been on the shore yet. So some parts are covered in a strip of seaweed. There is also a soup of the seaweeds floating in the water.There's quite a few different kinds of seaweeds washed ashore. Seaweeds are not rubbish! They are part of the natural cycle of life, providing food and shelter for all kinds of animals. So I like seeing seaweeds on the shores. Although bathers probably prefer none of the icky stuff in 'their' water.
Aha! A nice slushy muddy bit of shore! I take a closer look and am rewarded by the sight of many tiny little jewels.I'm always delighted to see Dubious nerite snails (Clithon oualaniensis). These snails are listed as vulnerable in our Red List!They come in variety of colours and designs. Each looks like it was painstakingly decorated with a fine black marker pen.Many of them had little white disk-shaped things on their shells. Are these egg capsules?Do they actually lay their egg capsules on one another? Alas, before I could observe them further, flashes of lightning played out in the darkening sky. And I hurried home.

Sentosa used to be ringed in coral reefs.from Southern Islands Development Guide Plan (DGP) 1996: ‘Historical Plan of Southern Islands’. The dotted portions used to be reefs!

This is what Sentosa looks like now from Google Earth. The reefs have been buried and the land used for luxury developments.
Recently, Sentosa has been described as a "mini-construction site". Are all the developments on Sentosa counter-productive?

From Sentosa sardine-packed? Cara van miriah, Straits Times 24 Apr 09)
There will be 29 attractions on the 500ha Sentosa, including bars, mostly along the 3.2km stretch that includes Siloso, Tanjong and Palawan beaches. Siloso Beach alone will have about 10 attractions, including bars, and this is getting too crowded for some visitors who fear their chill-out zone is becoming a concrete zone.

Visitors lament that it has become hard to find a tranquil spot.

About 300,000 visitors, or about 3.6 million annually, visit the three beaches every month.

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