22 February 2012

Baby spider conch on oil-slicked Tanah Merah

A rather large snail, about 8cm long! It's a conch snail as it has a 'knife' at the tip of the muscular foot, and big eyes on long eye stalks. Possibly a young Spider conch (Lambis lambis) that has yet to grow its spines?
I try to regularly check on this stretch of Tanah Merah that was hit by a massive oil spill more than a year ago. How has it been since our last trip in Dec 2011?

Indeed, I saw many different kinds of snails on this shore. There were quite a lot of Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella) on the shore, and many Black lipped conch (Strombus urceus). There were some small Firebrand murex (Chicoreus torrefactus), and lots of Oval moon snails (Polinices mammila) burrowing in the sand. The Bazillion snails (Batillaria zonalis) are not so numerous on this stretch of Tanah Merah.
 I saw one large Fan clams (Family Pinnidae) and one living Large cockle (Family Cardiidae).
I saw a small Fan shell clam with what looks like scutes on the top edge of the shell. I've never noticed this before.
I saw several large oysters (Family Ostreidae) on the seawall that were dead.
Oh no! Mr Stonefish! The Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) is quite common on Tanah Merah. Fortunately, I could show the ladies what he looks like. They said they might have seen another one later on. But I didn't see many other kinds of fishes, aside from plenty of gobies.
The large Bracket mushroom coral with fan worm is still there and seems fine. The water was rather murky so I couldn't get a good photo of it. But it looks much the same as before.
There were many small Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) colonies, all of them seemed fine.
 Pore corals (Porites sp.) remain quite common, including a few large colonies.
Favid corals (Family Faviidae) remain the most common hard coral that I saw today. There were many patches of Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata), and many small to large colonies of other Favid corals in various colours and patterns.
The special corals I saw today were a small Brain coral (Family Mussidae), tiny Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.) and some Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.). But I couldn't find the Acropora coral (Acropora sp.) colony. Oh dear.
While most of the corals seemed alright, this one was obviously producing a sheet of mucus, possibly to get rid of all the scummy stuff from the water that is sticking to it?
The patch of leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) seems to be getting bigger!
 A closer look at the soft coral. It seems to be alright.
We saw some signs of Sand bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.), as well as the rosette caps that Solider crabs (Dotilla sp.) often create over their burrows. I saw one moult of a Swimming crabs (Family Portunidae), but didn't clearly see any crabs. These are usually not so active during the day.
 I only saw a few fanworms (Family Sabellidae) today.
I saw two Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) and one small cluster of Button zoanthids or colonial anemones (Zoanthus sp.).
We found 10 small Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), all under 10cm in diameter, some only about 3cm. I didn't see any anemone shrimps in them.
There were some Thumbs up sea squirts (Polycarpa sp.), and a tiny patch of Orange lobed ascidians. I didn't come across any sponges today.
There are some small patches of Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), with tiny leaf blades. And one small patch of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) in deeper water that is badly covered in epiphytes.
The most abundant seaweed today was Mermaid's fan (Padina sp.). I saw a few clumps of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) and some tiny patches of other kinds of seaweeds.
I saw a few Common sea stars (Archaster typicus). Large parts of the shore today was covered in a thin layer of scum with lots of air bubbles.
There were shorebirds feeding here, leaving their footprints on the scummy shore.
Bits of the scum have come loose and float up, dotting the water everywhere. There is still a layer of sheen on the water everywhere.
But the upper shores seem pretty clear of marine debris. And we enjoyed a beautiful blue sky!
When we first arrived, there were two people fishing on the other stretch of Tanah Merah.
Further along in the middle of the area, there were two more people fishing. A strange way to fish with a line, in the middle of the lagoon during an outgoing tide. Hmm. On the way home, we saw a small group of foreign workers enjoying an evening meal on the seawall.
Today, I was joined by Jinghan and Letchumi, who are keen to do some work on our shores. Fortunately, the rain that we could see falling on the mainland stayed away from us. But the big rain cloud meant we didn't quite get a spectacular sunset.
More about the oil spill on this blog and on the Oil spill facebook page.


  1. Hi Ria,

    Good ID! That's indeed an immature Lambis lambis.


  2. Thank you JK for the ID confirmation! So exciting!

  3. I am very interested in these snails, especially around the Florida Keys


  4. Wow, thanks for dropping by the blog all the way from Florida Keys. You have a great site about these snails!



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