08 April 2011

Moray eel at Tanah Merah!

How delightful to see this fish on oil-slicked Tanah Merah, slightly a year after it was hit by the oil spill.
I arrived at dawn to check out this other stretch of Tanah Merah. This rather short-sighted fish allowed me to come quite close to take a photo of it!

I did see the Brown-spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax reevesii) during my trip here in January, but didn't manage a shot of it then. The water was teeming with tiny fishes. Most numerous today were Bengal sergeants (Abudefduf bengalensis). I saw lots of these fishes too in the other lagoon that I visited earlier this week.
There were also many small cardinalfishes, and of course, plenty of Ornate gobies (Istigobius ornatus). My swimming camera is not so good with fast moving critters, but I managed a blurry shot of the feisty little blue damselfish. I saw several of them. There were lots of larger fishes zooming about, too quickly for me to shoot. Others like this small Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus) were very well camouflaged!
I was delighted by the array of corals I saw today, very similar to my trip here last month. The large leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) is still there, and it seems fine.
There are many large corals here. Most of them were Pore corals (Porites sp.) and Favid corals (Family Faviidae).
The rocks are encrusted with a wide variety of corals. Here's Pore corals in various colours!
As on my previous trip last month, today I saw many little colonies of Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.)! Some were really tiny, with only a few polyps.
Some of the Flowery disk corals were larger.
I came across only one of these Thin disk corals (Turbinaria sp.).
The most abundant Favid coral that I saw remains Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata). I also saw one colony of Cyphastrea sp.
There were lots and lots of little to medium sized colonies of Favid corals of all shapes and colours.
I saw three colonies of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).
It was nice to see other less commonly encountered corals. Today, I came across several small colonies of Brain coral (Family Mussidae).
I saw once again the large Bracket mushroom coral with a little fan worm settling near it. Today I didn't see any Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae).
The single Acropora coral (Acropora sp.) on the shore that I always come across is still there and doing fine. I also saw an encrusting plate Montipora coral (Montipora sp.).
How nice to see a tiny colony of what seems to be Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.)!
A few of the Favid corals had portions that seemed to be bleaching. But all the other corals I saw seemed fine.
How nice to see my favourite hermit crab. The Spotted hermit crab (Dardanus megistos) is not often seen on our shores.
Even well after sunrise, there were still several Ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus) out and about on the shore. As I was leaving, I came across several small Land hermit crabs (Coenobita sp.) on the high shore. I only saw a few small Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) zooming away in shallow water over the sandy area.
On the sandy area, I saw a few signs of Acorn worms (Class Enteropneusta). Today, however, I didn't come across any Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).

There are not as many Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) here as on the other shore of Tanah Merah. Most of these were confined to the rockier areas of the intertidal. Burrowing in the sand were several of these Elegant banded creeper snails.
Today I saw many Oval moon snails (Polinices mammila).
There seems to have been some busy egg laying by the Moon snails recently. These curious egg masses are called sand collars.
I saw several Black-lipped conch snails (Strombus urceus). They seemed to be doing fine. I just love the big beady eyes on the conch snails!
I saw several Plain frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) and one of another kind that is usually found in sand. But I didn't come across any Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) today.
I saw a few small clumps of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.).
I saw several patches of Blue spatula sponge (Lamellodysidea herbacea). There were a few Thumbs up sea squirts (Polycarpa sp.) though most were covered in growths.
There was Ribbon jellyfish (Chrysaora sp.) that looked like it wasn't doing too well. This jellyfish is in season and has been sighted on other shores. Perhaps this one was at the end of its natural season?
I came across several small patches of Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) which were very heavily covered in epiphytes. And also one small clump of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). The most abundant seaweed that I saw today was Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.) growing on the rocky areas. There were a few clumps of short strands of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.)
There are still 'pancakes' of crude on the mid-water mark and the water draining through them is stained black. In many parts of the shore, a brownish scum still floats about.
The oil stained zone of the higher shores are dotted with living Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella).
There is still crude under a thin layer of sand. Which shows up as I walk along the high shore.
I'll just have to keep coming back to see how this shore is doing.

More about the oil spill on this blog and on the Oil spill facebook page.

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