06 June 2009

Another fishy day at Tanah Merah

A short nap after the Leafmonkey Workshop and I'm out on the shores of Tanah Merah for a moderate low tide.
It was positively teeming with fishes! This beautiful fish is a grouper, the Chocolate hind (Cephalopholis boenak). The last time I saw one was on Chek Jawa in 2004!

The pretty Bengal sergeant (Abudefduf bengalensis) is a very shy damselfish and hard to shoot in the murky water. I usually see this on reefs of our Southern shores, although I have seen it once at Pulau Sekudu.
There were many of these dark blue fishes playing hide-and-seek with me among the rocks. They look like the Three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).
Another challenging fish to photograph is this little one that stays in deeper water. Could it be the Lined cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus sp.)?
This pink fish also kept stirring up the muck at the bottom of the pool. I have no idea what it is. Maybe a cardinalfish (Family Apogonidae)?
I was lucky to shoot this beautiful little fish when it was staying very still and not mucking things up. I also have no idea what it is.
'Clinging' to the rocks was this very pretty goby. It sure looks like an Ornate lagoon-goby (Istigobius ornatus), and the prettiest one I've seen!
Zipping about on the water surface were all kinds of halfbeaks. This one has a broad 'nose'.
While this one was very long: about 20cm! Halfbeaks got their name because their lower jaw is much longer, while their upper jaw is short and triangular. They hunt for prey near the water surface.All kinds of filedfishes were squished up against rocks and seaweeds.
Here's another one.And yet another one!
They may all be the Seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus). I'm not too sure of my filefishes yet.

Among the seaweeds, there were lots of little fishes. Including this one which was peeking out at me. I have no idea what it is.
Drifting about pretending to be a dead leaf was this fish swimming listlessly head down. It was quite alive although its tail is a little beat up. Is it a Brown sweetlips (Plectorhinchus gibbosus)? I'm not too sure.
In the sandy area, I came across a Freckled goatfish (Upeneus tragula) showing the barbels under its chin that gave it its common name. The barbels contain chemosensory organs and are used to probe the sand for bottom-dwelling prey. The barbels are also used by males during courtship of females.
I also came across four of these special Spotted hermit crabs (Dardanus sp.). I've only seen them twice: at Pulau Semakau and at Pulau Sekudu. They are really charming crustaceans!
Later on, I saw this hermit crab using a broken shell the 'wrong' way around! This is why we shouldn't take any shells away from the shores. Even broken ones can shelter a hermit crab!
Among the crevices in the seawall were several Red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus). This one seemed to be eating a White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.)!
There were other kinds of crabs around today, and the remains of this enormous crab.
Its pincer was nearly as big as my foot! Wow! What was it? I have no idea.

Chay Hoon gave the trip today a miss to allow her stingray wound to heal properly. Without Chay Hoon around, we don't see nudibranchs. I just don't have the knack for finding tiny slugs.

But even I couldn't miss this gianormous slug!
Again, with my size 7 foot for scale.
It seemed to be just one humungous black blob. Also black on the underside.
But a closer look reveals a textured body, and very odd tentacles. I'm sure Chay Hoon knows what it is. I'm really too tired to look it up right now. Thanks Chay Hoon!

I also was plagued by squids today.

Today I was very glad to come across a small patch of nice lush Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis)! Seagrasses are a great habitat for many creatures.
But I couldn't explore it thoroughly as the tide was turning.
While we saw moonset, we didn't even stay to see sunrise!

MORE field trips coming up until next Sunday. I hope I will survive them all.

See also Exploring Tanah Merah by Ivan on his Lazy Lizard's Tales blog.


  1. Wow....what another trip to be missed? Sigh.

    Hmm...the sea slug is likely a Pleurobranchus forskalii. It is a side-gills slug, same family as the Moon-headed sidegill slug(Euselenops luniceps). Before TM, we have only seen it at Cyrene. :o)

  2. thank you for sharing! wish i was there
    and u guys still came for the workshop despite a very early trip! thank you :)

  3. Wow, thanks Chay Hoon for the ID! That sure is a special slug. We did miss you this morning.

    And you too November. Hope you can join us soon.

  4. Pink fish with big eyes is a squirrelfish (Sargocentron sp.). FishHere's one for comparison.

    The one after that (yellow with blue stripes on face) is definitely some sort of cardinalfish, although I'm having trouble narrowing down the exact species.

    The fish that's pretending to be a dead life is the Pacific tripletail (Lobotes pacificus), formerly lumped in with the Atlantic tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis).

  5. Thanks Ivan for all the IDs!

    Yes, Lobotes surinamensis is listed under the "First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore".

    And a squirrelfish too!

    All my first time seeing these fishes. Tanah Merah sure is exciting!



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