19 May 2011

Pregnant papas on Changi, with signs of dugong?

A very pregnant papa seahorse was among the first things I saw when I arrived at 5am on Changi.
This shore is teeming with seahorses, fishes and echinoderms! I haven't been here since July 2010!

There were three other seahorses on the shore too! I think at least one of them was also a pregnant father. The Estuarine seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) is thankfully still quite common on Changi. Like other seahorses, it is the father that carries the eggs and 'gives birth' to live young. For this reason, seahorses don't spread very well to other shores. So it's important not to harm or remove the seahorses on Changi, if we would like to continue to see them here.
There were also lots and lots of Seagrass pipefishes on the shore today. There are times when we see lots of these pipefishes and other times when we see none. Like seahorses, it is the papa pipefish that carries the eggs. Do the papas come to the seagrass meadows to release their babies? Changi seems to be a great place for dads!
This shore is packed with marine life. Different animals huddled together in amazing colours, shapes and patterns!
There were lots of fishes of all kinds. The Longspined scorpionfish (Paracentropogon longispinis) was particularly plentiful! But I was attracted to this pretty dragonet (Family Callionymidae).
And here's another intriguing fish. I don't know what it is.
This flatfish that might be a Tongue-sole (Family Cynoglossidae). I've not seen a tongue-sole with this banded pattern before.
This stretch of Changi is teeming with echinoderms of all kinds. Sea stars are particularly plentiful in number and variety. Today, we saw lots of Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) tiny to very large, Cake sea stars (Anthenea aspera) from bright orange to more subtle colours. I didn't come across any Painted sand stars or Plain sand stars.
Kok Sheng found this special Luidia sea star (Luidia sp.) which has so far only been seen at Changi and Chek Jawa.
How nice to see two different kinds of feather stars! The blue feather star and for the first time for me, a black feather star on Changi.
There are many different kinds of sea cucumbers here too! Today I saw lots and lots of Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis), many Warty pink sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps) and many purple sea cucumbers, many buried ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.) and Smooth sea cucumbers. Also some orange sea cucumbers and one beige sea cucumber.
Once again, I saw this strange sea cucumber that I saw nearly a year ago. I still haven't figured out what it is. It is hard and rather plasticky. Its short fat tube feet have bright orange tips.
Kok Sheng saw a large gathering of Black sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.) and Chay Hoon found a Pink sand dollar (Peronella lesueri).

Changi is also special to me because of the many kinds of sea anemones that live here. There were many small to medium sized Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni). Most had tiny anemone shrimps in them, and one had a large larger Five-spot anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis).
There were also many of these Tiny carpet anemones (Stichodactyla tapetum) which are not baby Haddon's carpet anemones but a different species.
One reason the Changi shores are special is that this is the only place so far that I know of where these Tiger anemones are commonly seen. The anemone has yet to be identified.
There were many Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi), also this strange striped sand anemone which seems to have a bright orange body column, and Peachia anemones (Peachia sp.).
I saw many Slender sea pens (Virgularia sp.) of various patterns and colours. The strange Sea pencil I've so far commonly seen only on Changi. There were also many Spiky sea pens (Scytalium sp.).
There were many colourful flowery sea pens (Family Veretillidae) too.
Often, a pair of Painted porcelain crabs (Porcellanella picta) will settle on a sea fan. Today I saw a sea fan with FOUR of these porcelain crabs!
There are also lots of cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia) on this shore. Commonly called peacock anemones, these animals are NOT true anemones which belong to Order Actiniaria. On Changi, the black fluffy Phoronid worm (Phoronis australis) is often seen with these cerianthids.
All kinds of other animals are found near and on cerianthids. Like this pair of spidery crabs that I almost missed.
There were also many small Ball flowery soft corals!
Where there are hard surface, the shore reminds me of Beting Bronok which we visited yesterday. Clumps of colourful marine life of all kinds settle on these hard surfaces.
Colourful sea fans (Order Gorgonacea) of all kinds grew on the hard surfaces! I saw more sea fans on Changi than I did at yesterday's trip to Beting Bronok.
Kok Sheng pointed out that the sea fans had lots of tiny colourful brittle stars (Ophiotela danea)! I also noticed when I got home that there was a little spindle cowrie on the sea fan too.
There were of course, lots of crabs of all kinds. But what I found most intriguing was these medium sized crabs which don't look familiar to me. They look like swimming crabs (Family Portunidae) but I'm not sure what they are.
Chay Hoon alerted me that there were lots of Bushy slugs (Polybranchia orientalis) on the shore today. They are well camouflaged!
Here's a look at a Bushy slug which was in shallow water. It's bushy 'leaves' have parted to reveal the body in the centre with the pair of tentacles.
We also saw many Geographic seahare (Syphonota geographica), while Chay Hoon of course finds lots more interesting slugs.

I saw one Miliaris cowrie (Cypraea miliaris). In the past, I used to see more of them on this shore.
I also saw a Seagrass octopus! This kind of octopus looks and behaves differently from the ones we usually see on reefs.
I also came across a small patch of what seems to be Hairy spoon seagrass (Halophila decipiens). A species of seagrass that was discovered in Singapore only in 2008! The predominant species on this stretch of Changi is Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
In the light of dawn, we noticed these furrows in the seagrass meadows. Were these made by feeding dugongs?
Here's more furrows. On the horizon is Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, where we also saw dugong feeding trails last month. Wow! Do dugongs also visit the seagrass meadows on Changi?
As we were going home, Ivan pointed out the Oriental pied hornbills that flew onto some trees nearby. We quietly looked for them and found them eating the juicy looking fruits on this tree. I'm not sure what tree this is but I think it's NOT a native tree.
There is a trash line on the low water mark. Colourful marine life have settled on the trash!
Today, I saw one man with a plastic bag and a stick collecting from the shore. Fortunately, we didn't come across any abandoned driftnets or fish traps. Although there is some abandoned fishing lines on the shore.

This Changi shore is very special and I should try to visit it more often. Alas, there are not enough low tides to visit all our shores as often as I would like to! Tomorrow, another predawn trip to another stretch of Changi!

Other posts about this trip
  • Kok Sheng with colourful Sea apple sea cucumber, bright orange slug and lots and lots of other creatures.


  1. Yea, its an exotic tree. Sea Grapes, Coccoloba uvifera

  2. Hi Ria, Thanks for highlighting this beautiful but often ignored marine mammal of our waters...I'm really hoping the dugongs will survive well into the future!

  3. Thanks JK for dropping by the blog. And yes! I share your hopes for the dugongs!

  4. Btw Coccoloba uvifera (Sea Grapes) are dioecious -- so the fruting tree at Changi is female. The juicy "grapes" can be eaten raw when ripe. There is also 1 tree at Labrador Park -- beside the horizontal path running along the rock revetments & the sea.

    Thanks for showing us the community of colourful shore life !

  5. Wow I didn't know that Pat! Thanks! I've seen these trees at Pasir Ris too.



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