14 September 2010

Pasir Ris beach is alive!

How is the marine life at Pasir Ris doing? Especially with water quality that has 'failed' again this year, and the massive construction that has been going on here. Yesterday, I made a quick trip to find out.How delightful to come across a young Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera)!

My trip was short and it was after dark. So I didn't cover much ground. Some parts of the shore that used to have seagrasses are now completely bare. But there are still some seagrass patches.

Where there are seagrasses, there are lots of animals. But you have to look closely to find them. In this photo, a tiny snapping shrimp (top left corner), a larger goby (top right corner) and what looks like a patch of sand is probably the silt flatworm that we often see on Pasir Ris.
Many of the animals on this shore are tiny and well camouflaged. Can you spot the goby and swimming crab in this photo?
Here's another busy scene: tiny whelks, one with a hitch-hiking sea anemone on its shell, and a small swimming crab scuttling away with a clam. Probably the clam just died, attracting the whelks and the crab stole it away?
This strange moon snail (Family Naticidae) I don't see often. I saw something like it in 2008 on the east coast. I'm not sure what kind of moon snail it is.
This snail I know. It is the Tiger moon snail (Natica tigrina) which is not often sighted.
I also saw one small Hairy sea hare (Bursatella leachii).
There were also some Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.) out and about. But not as many as I have seen in the past. I didn't see any of the Painted sand stars (Astropecten sp.).
Buried in the soft silty sand were sea cucumbers. I didn't bother them by digging them up. I think those I saw included Smooth sea cucumbers and Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.).
I saw some (but not as many as usual) bead anemones (Anthopleura sp.), two small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), two peacock anemones (Order Ceriantharia) and very small clumps of Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata). Compared to my recent trips to Changi, there I saw much fewer cnidarians on Pasir Ris. I also saw very few sponges on Pasir Ris.
When I see this tiny sea anemone sticking out of the sand, I know to look for the buried snail that it is attached to. Indeed, this one was hitching a ride on one of the many scavenging whelks (Family Nassaridae) found on this shore.
There were lots of little mudskippers on the shore. As it was dark, they were easy to photograph. I think these are all the same kind of mudskipper but in different degrees of paleness. I'm not sure though.
There were all kinds of other gobies (Family Gobiidae) in pools among the seagrasses, usually well camouflaged.
One of the gobies had a big black leech-like thing stuck to its head. Oh dear.
Crabs were also busy on the shore.There were Sentinel crabs (Macrophthalmus sp.), small flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus), a very well camouflaged little spider crab, and several burrowing Moon crabs (Matuta lunaris). I also saw some other kinds of swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) and several Stone crabs (Myomenippe hardwicki).
Also busy on the shore were lots of small snapping shrimps (Family Alpheidae).
It's good to see busy worms on the shore. Worms are the base of the food chain. Besides several free-living bristleworms squirming about on the soft silty ground, there were also many many tubeworms of all kinds.
Hopefully, with the completion of works on Pasir Ris, the seagrass meadows will grow lush again, and the marine life will return.

I had a quick look at the special mangroves at Pasir Ris too.

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