20 August 2009

East Coast Park shores are alive!

Thanks to Kok Sheng's recces and information gathering, we went to a great spot today and found amazing marine life on the East Coast!
Who would imagine seeing feather stars at the East Coast?!

Not just one! Kok Sheng saw three, but I 'only' saw two of these bluish feather stars. Well, that's two more than I expected to see on the East Coast.
Another surprise was to see a Spiny sea star (Gymnanthenea laevis). Kok Sheng saw three! As usual, I only saw one. Kok Sheng also found a strange sea cucumber as well as a large brittlestar. Visit his blog to read more about them. I never imagined I would see all these echinoderms on the East Coast.
There were also lots of little colonies of Pink flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidea). I didn't find any, but Chay Hoon found the little ovulid snails that are often found on these colonial animals.
And there were little sea fans too! There were several skinny sea fans, and I managed to see the little Segal's spindle cowries (Cymbovula segaliana) that are often found on them. There was also a tiny hermit crab clinging on to the sea fan!
And one yellow sea fan too! I've not seen this before.
There were also many little colonies of hard corals! Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata) is probably the most widely distributed on our shores. Of course they were abundant today.
There were also small colonies of these corals. They are probably Cave corals (Tubastrea sp.). Being adapted to growing in the dark, these corals probably do well in our murky waters.
And there was this little colony of hard corals. Not really sure what it is.
The stones were also very much alive. Growing on them were all kinds of colourful sponges.
There's life on the underside of the stones too! All kinds of animals form colourful layers here. We are careful to put the stones back carefully so as not to injure the animals.
Under one stone was this large Miliaris cowrie (Cypraea miliaris). What a surprise! Usually seen in pairs, I couldn't find its partner.And this red crab ran out from under a stone and disappeared under another. I don't know what it is exactly.
There were also several swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) although they were very nervous. I only managed to photograph this one which seemed distracted by the little bit of seaweed that it was nibbling on.
A surprising encounter were several of these large Spotted black flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.). I usually only see these worms near reefs!
There was also a little spotted fanworm.
And many busy little snapping shrimps (Family Alpheidae). I don't often see these kinds of shrimps and I'm not too sure what they are. I saw a mantis shrimp (Order Stomatopoda) in its burrow but it disappeared and refused to come out again. So no photo.
Among the stones were interesting sea anemone blobs. I sense that the blobs with the pimples on the body column are more interesting to the sea anemone experts than those with smooth body columns.
These animals are much prettier when submerged and have their tentacles expanded.
Chay Hoon (of course) found this Batik tailed slug (Philinopsis sp.). So far, I've only seen this slug near seagrass areas. And this slug is believed to eat bubble snails. James did find something that looked like a bubble snail yesterday. This is all quite intriguing.
Before we got to this fabulous spot, we checked out some sand bars and seawalls along the way. I saw two of these little Olive snails (Family Olividae) in the sand bar.
In the pools near the sand bar were lots of little fishes including Whitings (Family Sillagenidae) and a Cresent perch (Terapon jarbua), photos in the top row.
While in the rockier areas were little gobies like the Common frillfin goby (Bathygobius fuscus) and Gold-spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus chrysospilos), photos in the bottom row.

The rock walls were full of barnacles! What happens when barnacles get smashed up by a predator? Apparently, it means 'party time' for sea slaters (Ligia sp.)! Did a crab scrape away the barnacles? Well, the scavenging sea slaters certainly looked happy.
Barnacles grow on all kinds of hard surfaces. Including this one that was growing right between the eyes of a Purple climbing crab (Metopograpsus sp.)!
My first time encounters for the day are rather mudane. A gathering of little segmented 'pods'. Are they amphipods? I have no idea.
And a bright green segmented worm among the seaweeds! It's such a pretty shade of emerald green.
Washed up on the shore, again I saw bits of intriguing seagrasses including of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), possibly Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) and Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium)! Where do these bits come from? Do seagrasses grow near the East Coast?
Alas, less welcome encounters included several abandoned fishing nets.
And lots and lots of litter of all kinds. This batch seems to be abandoned work gear. They were seen near the area where we saw the spectacular feather stars and other amazing marine life.
I am sure if we minimise our impact on our shores, even places like the East Coast can boast spectacular marine life.

The shores of East Coast Park are certainly not dead. Especially in the areas which are not affected by shore works. We shall have to include these spots in our regular trips to check up on how they are doing.

Today, we didn't have to walk much. Yay! All thanks to Kok Sheng for figuring out where to go, when to go, where to park and where to wash up.

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