18 July 2010

What can we see at Berlayar shore?

I had a quick look at the different shore ecosystems found at Berlayar this morning. The tide wasn't very low and it was cloudy but I saw lots of interesting animals and plants!
The shore is ringed by seawalls, and overlooks the heritage houses on Bukit Cermin.

The Berlayar shore lies in front of Berlayar Creek which is next to Labrador Nature Reserve. Ecosystems seen here include mangroves, natural rocky shores, sandy shores, a bit of reefy shores at the deeper edges!
From the Berlayar shore, we can see the natural shores of Sentosa at the Tanjung Rimau beacon. In this photo, the beacon is tiny and right next to the spectacular natural cliffs on Sentosa. In the foreground is a heap of dead corals on the Berlayar shore.
There is a large natural rocky shore at the base of Bukit Cermin.
The rocky shores are alive with all kinds of creatures! These include: Acorn barnacles (Balanus sp.), Star barnacles (Euraphia sp.) and limpets, Drill snails (Family Muricidae) that feed on the barnacles, Onch slugs (Family Onchidiidae), Nerite snails of all kinds (Family Neritidae) and Turban snails (Turbo bruneus). Swarms of Sea slaters (Ligia sp.) scurried over the rocks, but my little sneaky cam was too slow to photograph them.
On the rocky shores are small banded bead anemones (Anthopleura sp.), which larger Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) are found on the sandier areas.
The shadier parts of the rocky shore are coated in colourful encrusting sponges (Phylum Porifera).
Some common seaweeds on the rocky shore include: Mermaid's fan seaweed (Padina sp.), tiny Knobbly agar-agar seaweed (Gracilaria salicornia) and Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.).
On the sandier edges of the rocky shores are small meadows of Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
The tide was too high to explore the sand bar at the seaward side. But I did manage to see some large solitary tubeworms (Diopatra sp.). I even tried to take a photo of one underwater. In the surging waves, I can see that sand-dwelling creatures have to put up with a lot of abrasive sand movement. I did have a glimpse of a Moon crab (Ashtoret lunaris) before it disappeared into the sand.
There is a bit of a coastal forest on Bukit Cermin. Some prominent trees growing here include a humungous Sea almond (Terminalia catappa). As the tide was rising, I didn't have a look at the other special trees that are found further along this shore. Read more about them on my post about a trip in Mar 09, and see the comments by Yap Von Bing who kindly shared the ID of some of the trees.
It is possible to have a closer look at some common mangrove trees here! Approaching from the Keppel Club side, the sand is firm enough to do so without too much trampling.
Among the common mangrove trees here are Perepat (Sonneratia alba), with large conical breathing roots (pneumatophores) and rounded leaves. They have pretty white pom-pom shaped flowers.
Also common are Api-api putih (Avicennia alba) with pencil shaped pneumatophores and tiny yellow flowers that emerge on a cross-shaped inflorescence. Their leaves are white on the underside.
There's even a Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) growing on the seawall next to Keppel Club.
The most exciting mangrove tree here are the Bakau pasir (Rhizophora stylosa) which is listed as vulnerable. There are several of these trees along Berlayar Creek. According to Dr Jean Yong "most importantly, botanically speaking for Singapore, Tanjung Berlayar is the only place on Singapore mainland to have at least 10 trees of Rhizophora stylosa."
On narrow sandy stretches under the mangrove trees are lots of fiddler crabs (Uca spp.)! While on the mangrove tree leaves, we might find Periwinkle snails (Family Littorinidae).
On dry land well above the shore, the gardens at Berlayar Park are planted with many rare native coastal plants! It's so easy to have a leisurely look at these right from the paths.

The gardens include some plants associated with mangroves and shores. Such as the always freshly green Sea lettuce (Scaveola taccada) with pretty white 'half' flowers.
There are lots of Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) both in the garden and on the shore. I didn't have time to check if these had the bugs and other interesting creatures usually found on these plants.
There is a large 'hedge' of Mangrove ferns or Piaya raya (Acrostichum aureum). Here, we can take a closer look at these non-flowering plants with the brown spores under the leaves.
There are several of the Critically Endangered Sea teak (Podocarpus polystachyus). The Sea teak is a conifer. That is, it produces seeds but no flowers. Instead, it has reproductive structures called cones or strobili. Female plants produce a highly modified cone (photo on lower left). Male plants produce clusters of long narrow cream-coloured cones that wither brown (photo on lower right).
Another Critically Endangered plant is the Seashore spider lily (Crinum asiaticum) which is enormous and has lovely white flowers.
The Mata pelandok (Ardisia elliptica) is Endangered. There are many bushes of these pretty plant with pink flowers, developing into round fruits that ripen black, thus giving it its Malay name which means 'Eye of the Mousedeer'.
You can also have a closer look the Sea gutta (Pouteria obovata) a seashore tree with bronzy leaves.
Although they look similar, these are two completely different plants. The photo on the left is of the Kemunting (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa), while on the right is the Sendudok or Singapore rhododenron (Melastoma malabathricum).
There is even a small patch of our national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim, which would come in handy if we are bringing around some visiting tourists.
This tree with pretty orange flowers and a white fruit is planted at regular intervals in the garden. The nice thing about trees in a garden is that they are labelled! So I found that it is the Kemuning Murraya paniculata). I learnt from Corners that it grew wild in many parts of Malaya but often planted as an ornamental. The roots produce a pale yellow wood that is prized for kris handles and sheaths. The pretty flowers are used by ladies in their hair. Ooops! Dr Yong has kindly corrected me. This is not Murraya but is a Cordia sp. possibly Cordia sebestena which is probably extinct in Singapore. I must have read the wrong label. Thank you Dr Yong!
As with many of our shores, Berlayar is afflicted by litter of all kinds and fish traps. In addition, the proximity to Keppel Golf Club means that a lot of golf balls commonly litter this shore. The only 'sea star' I saw today was litter. Sigh.
Right at the sign which says fishing and netting are not allowed, I saw a man who looked like he was setting up a net across the mangroves. On the high shore, his gear included a lot of cable ties.
Alas, I saw an abandoned driftnet already covered in seaweeds. Although we did a massive cleanup of abandoned driftnets in Nov 07 and Dec 07, it seems the nets are building up again.
Hopefully, by raising awareness about the beauty and wonder of marine life on Berlayar, we can encourage more people to treat it with respect and love.

More about flora and fauna seen on Berlayar on previous trips:
  • More mangrove flora and fauna seen in Mar 09.
  • More rocky shore creatures and big trees at Bukit Cermin seen in Mar 09.
  • More reefy creatures seen during a low tide seen in Apr 09.
  • Quick look at Berlayar shore in Jan 09.
  • Canoeing up Berlayar mangroves in May 10.


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