23 June 2009

Living sands of East Coast Park

Being our longest coastal park there is a LOT of sandy beaches at East Coast Park.
Although these may appear to be devoid of marine life, we sure had some great sightings during the super low predawn tide today!

As soon as we stepped on the beach, James and Chay Hoon spotted a pair of horseshoe crabs struggling on the high shores. They were upside down, all appendages flailing about helplessly. With the male still desperately clinging on to the larger female.
We gently turned them over and gave them a hand to the water where they happily disappeared into the waves. These are Coastal horsehoe crabs (Tachypleus gigas) which you can tell from their tails, which are triangular in cross-section. These animals are listed as 'Endangered' in our Red List due to habitat loss.

There were a lot of burrows in the sand near the high water mark. These belong to the Horn-eyed ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus). Those on this shore are very skittish. It was hard to get close to them.
I saw one with 'horns' on the eyes (photo on the left) and one without horns.

As it was a very low tide today, larger stretches of sandy shores were exposed. Here, all kinds of little hermit crabs were busy in the clear waters.
Many had shells of intriguing snails. It would be marvellous to find these living snails!

And indeed we did encounter some interesting snails. Such as this Lined moon snail (Natica lineata).We also saw lots of glossy Olive snails (Family Olividae)! I'm not sure if these are the same species of Olive snail.
And there was a living Turid snail (Turricula sp.)! Besides East Coast Park, so far, I've only seen these elegant snails at Chek Jawa.
The snail ploughs through the sand with its shell raised above the surface. The blackish siphon sticks out through the long tubular portion of the shell.
There were also all kinds of fishes frolicking in the gentle waves. I only managed to photograph the whiting (Family Sillaginidae).
Also frolicking in the waves were lots of little moon crabs (Family Matutidae) that were quick to burrow into the sand.

Other animals hidden in the sand were ball sea cucumber (Phyllophorus sp.) and smooth sea cucumbers. Above the sand, on bits of stone or hard surfaces, clung Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis). James saw some really cool tiny red snails and brittle stars on these sea cucumbers! There were also some patches of tubeworms and I saw one Peachia anemone (Peachia sp.).

I'm quite impressed by what we saw on the sandy shores during such a short trip!

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