30 April 2010

Living Changi: Found Apple and Lost Octopuses

What a lovely morning find! A big fat Sea apple sea cucumber!
Although it looks very attractive, the Sea apple (Pseudocolochirus violaceus) is highly toxic and makes a very poor aquarium resident. It has been called an 'aquarium bomb' as it secretes toxins that can wipe out the entire tank.

The Sea apple is listed as 'Vulnerable' in the Red List of Threatened Animals of Singapore. It is threatened by land reclamation and over-collection by beach combers. This sea cucumber has been regularly sighted at Changi and I hope it stays in the wild where it belongs, so that it can play its role in the habitat, and that other beachgoers can enjoy finding it too.

There are lots of other colourful sea cucumbers on the shore too. Abundant today were the Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis). There were also some of the less common Warty pink sea cucumber (Cercodemas anceps). And I saw one of these Beige sea cucumbers that has yet to be identified.
Changi is a great place to spot echinoderms. Today though, we only saw the common sea stars. There were lots of Biscuit sea stars (Gonidiscaster scaber) but most were tiny or small. I only saw three big ones (larger than 15cm).
And one tiny sea star that might be a young Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera), from a look on the underside.
There was also one Painted sand star and lots and lots of Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.).
Perhaps it was because Kok Sheng couldn't join us today, we didn't see any special stars today. I also didn't see any sea urchins, but Chay Hoon saw the White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) and Black sea urchin (Temnopleurus sp.).

Today the shores were thick with fat round large Geographic sea hares (Syphonota geographica). Many of those exposed out of water were half buried in the soft sand.
Among them was this one that looked different. I'm not sure if it's the Extraordinary sea hare (Aplysia extraordinaria) or the spotted sea hare that we have yet to identify.
The seagrass meadows of Changi are alive! There are all kinds of animals big and small living among the seagrasses.
There are lots of fishes taking shelter among the seagrasses. A little goby, a Long-spined scorpionfish (Paracentropogon longispinis), an unidentified fish, there were also many tiny White-spotted rabbitfish (Siganus canaliculatus) in the meadows.
A dead Fan clam provides a perfect place for two flat filefishes (Family Monacanthidae) to hide.
Often mistaken for a root, the tiny slender seagrass pipefish. Alas, we didn't see any seahorses today.
But I did see this cute little pufferfish! It looks like the Milk-spotted pufferfish (Chelonodon patoca).
It was good to see more living fishes than dead fishes. There was one dead floating catfish, and one dead filefish. Chay Hoon also saw a few dead fishes. But these might have been abandoned catches by fishermen and not killed by something in the water.
Some patches of seagrasses were riddled with thin red things. Worm tentacles?
And then there was this huge worm sticking out of the ground! Its jaws look all set for trapping some passing prey. Scary.
There are also a wide variety of anemones on this shore. On the top row, various anemones that look like the big hermit crab anemone. Also, one tiny Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) - I didn't see any large ones, Peachia anemone (Peachia sp.), many Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichii), an unknown anemone and the Tiger anemone. There were also many Flowery sea pens (Family Veretilidae), but I didn't see any Sea pencils today.
How delightful to see a large octopus hiding under a stone! These octopuses live in seagrasses and look different from those we see on our reefs.
Alas, as we were heading home we noticed a man collecting things in a plastic bag. When I asked, he showed me three octopuses in the bag which he intended to use as bait for fishing. There were also several people further out to sea on the flats in the dark, probably also gathering marine life.

As always, a sunrise trip has its rewards.
A bitter sweet end to a trip to one of our favourite mainland shores.

Check out Chay Hoon's colourful clouds blog for more sightings and stories.


  1. Awesome photos Ria and that sea apple is magnificent. Your stories never fail to inspire me to take better photographs!

  2. you r amazing



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