02 March 2011

February wild facts updates: crab, fishies and special coastal plants

It is rare, apparently, to see the awesome mangrove Mound crab (Sarmatium germaini) out of its hidey hole in mud lobster mounds.
Mound crab (Sarmatium germaini)
I didn't realise this until I was kindly told by N. Sivasothi and Ng Ngan Kee! The crab is listed as 'Endangered' and it eats mangrove leaves, dragging these into its burrow to eat them in peace and quiet.

I've only seen this fish once on the intertidal, but saw it again on the recent trip to five islands in a day. After pouring through the books, I'm thinking this is the Black-barred halfbeak (Hemiramphus far).
Halfbeak (Family Hemiramphidae)
I saw this large stingray a long time ago on Chek Jawa. It was crispy and dead. But recently, Rene shared a sighting of a live one on Chek Jawa too. I think it's the Leopard whipray (Himantura undulata).
Jerome spotted this cute Mangrove bumblebee goby (Brachygobius kabiliensis) on one of our recent trips.  It does indeed resemble a bumble bee: being tiny, plump and banded black and yellow.
Mangrove bumblebee goby (Brachygobius kabiliensis)
After the recent publication of Swennen's awesome paper (pdf) about Mangrove slugs, it's time I did up a fact sheet on those we saw recently. The Mangrove leaf slug (Elysia bantawaensis) has some intriguing behaviour which is detailed in the paper.
Mangrove leaf slug (Elysia bangtawaensis)

Here's also some fishes that I think I've figured out. But please do correct any misidentifications.

These flatheads look like the Bartail flathead (Platycephalus indicus) which has colourful tail markings and a big flap over the eyes.
Bartail flathead (Platycephalus indicus)
I think I've finally figured out what these very commonly seen fishes are. They are probably the Common mojarra (Gerres oyena). This fish eats by sucking up a mouthful of sand with the protractile mouth and sorting out edible bottom-dwelling creatures, then spitting out the debris and sand.
Common mojarra (Gerres oyena)
This uniformly brown moray eel was seen twice at Tuas some years ago. I'm thinking its the Brown moray eel (Uropterygius concolor).
Brown moray eel (Uropterygius concolor)

We've also seen some interesting coastal plants recently.

The Critically Endangered Pelir musang (Fagraea auriculata) is said to be found in the wild on Pulau Tekukor, Lazarus Island and Pulau Biola. I've seen them at all these sites, so it's time to do a fact sheet. I think the stand at Pulau Biola is the most awesome. The Malay name means "Civet cat's testicles" which refers to their fruits. I haven't yet seen any flowers or fruits of this tree. More excuses to visit them again.
Pelir musang (Fagraea auriculata)
The glorious golden blooms of Caesalpinia crista has been in my face all week. So it's time to do a fact sheet. I find out one of the Malay common names for it is 'Kuku tupai' which means 'squirrel's claws'. An apt description of how it feels when entangled in this prickly climber. You do feel like you're being attacked by rabid squirrels!
Kuku tupai (Caesalpinia crista)
Thanks to Bian, I found out this plant is Belalang puak (Pittosporum ferrugineum). This tree is listed as 'Vulnerable' and it has interesting fruits. Yet more reasons to keep visiting our coastal forests!
Belalang puak (Pittosporum ferrugineum)
Bian also identified this large sprawling fig I saw at Lazarus Island as the Brown-scurfy fig (Ficus consociata). A variety of this fig, Ficus consociata var murtoni is listed as 'Critically Endangered'. A strangling fig that used to provide latex before the Brazilian rubber tree took over, the Ficus consociata var murtoni is said to have been tapped out of existence in southern Sumatra.
Brown-scurfy fig (Ficus consociata)
Thanks to Siyang, I learnt that the beautiful 'snowy' blooms on the coastal forest on St. John's Island was Kelat nasi nasi (Syzygium zeylanicum). I saw the fruits on Lazarus Island, but only realised this after Bian identified them.
Kelat nasi nasi (Syzygium zeylanicum)

Of course, lots more were seen over the last two months or so since the last fact sheet update in December! Among which must be the surprising rich marine life that encrusted the pontoon at Seringat-Kias. Andy shared a lovely video of the colourful cave corals growing there.

Cave Coral @ Lazarus 20Feb2011 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

All new sightings of creatures have been updated on the wild fact sheets. Thanks to all the team members who shared their findings online. Visit their sites for more stories and photos!
I'd gladly include your sightings in the wild fact sheets. Just email me, Ria at hello@wildsingapore.com


  1. The mangrove mound crab... what a beauty! I hope to see it one day :)

  2. Thanks Siva! And Wendy, I'm sure you will see one at your fabulous mangroves one day!



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