19 June 2014

Sponge-check at Changi

Puzzled by the disappearance of sponges on Pulau Sekudu and Chek Jawa a few days ago, we decided to check out a usually spongey spot on mainland Changi yesterday.
In deeper water, there were many small sea fans. A lot more sea fans than I saw at another stretch of Changi last month.

The jetty legs are encrusted with various marine life, mostly ascidians though. There were also seafans! But sponges were much fewer than on our last trip here in Jun 2013.
There are sprinkles of encrustations on the tangles of ropes, but not many sponges.
This is what tangles of rope here usually looked like in Jul 2010. On that trip, the seafans were also much bigger!
Photo taken in Jul 2010.
There were some sponges but not a lot. Although Melted chocolate sponges coated many rocks, and there were many sponges, I didn't see many specimens of the usually abundant Purple branching sponges and Elegant branching sponge. While these are usually large and lush, those I saw were much smaller. Other kinds of sponges were small and I only saw one or very few specimens.
Some of the rocks at the low water mark are still encrusted with hard corals, Button zoanthids and Melted chocolate sponge.
There are still some areas of the rocky shore covered densely with Zebra corals. I didn't see any that were bleaching.
I saw this little thing that looks like a sea pen but which was stuck to a hard surface in a really dark place. Might be a kind of soft coral? Wow!
Here's a larger one that looks similar, next to a fluffy Pink flowery soft coral.
Kok Sheng found this and other Blue feather stars! He also found a nice nudibranch. Under the stones, I came across some brown Crown sea stars, Ovum coweries, Hoof-shield limpets and a small Toadfish.
The most common sea cucumber I saw were Orange sea cucumbers, also some Ball sea cucumbers and a few Thorny sea cucumbers. I also saw one Synaptid sea cucumber on Melted chocolate sponge.
I looked and looked and finally found a few of the 'armoured' sea cucumbers that I first saw here in Jun 2012. They are very well camouflaged!
Other animals I saw included Spiky seapens, Thumbs up ascidians, lots of Candy hydroids which were surprisingly free of encrustrations. Also some Knobbly soft corals and very small colonies of Stinging hydroids. I didn't come across any flatworms.
I now walk very very slowly due to the recovering broken foot, and find I notice things I didn't before. Like these cute and busy little Porcelain fiddler crabs.
There are some patches of Spoon seagrass nearby in very soft silty ground.
How nice to see some small scattered patches of Hairy spoon seagrass! I last saw them here in Apr 2013.
I was delighted to see some mangrove trees growing on the shore: a small Api-api putih and a tall Perepat. In the background, the majestic Johor fig.
The fig tree was producing bright orange figs that were floating all over the shore. In fact, Changi is a hot-bed of heritage trees. More about these Significant trees and shrubs in Changi. There's a great DIY Guide to Heritage Trees of Changi walking trail on the NParks website.
I saw several fish traps or "bubu"s on the shore. Some seemed whole, others were flattened or broken.
There were many bundles of tangled single fishing lines all over the shore.
There was also large tyres, a broken wheelbarrow and the usual debris washing up on the shore including large styrofoam boxes and blue drums.
As the seawalls start to crumble away, I get a look at the insides of it. A pile of rocks provides more homes for marine life (crevices, underside) than a smooth cemented rock wall. Hopefully, when they 'repair' this wall, they will make it so that colourful marine life can easily settle on the wall. Like those we've seen on artificial shores elsewhere in Singapore.
Yesterday was the last of six back-to-back morning low spring tide trips. Fortunately, the recent stormy days did not affect our trips! There was a big storm yesterday but it ended well before the low tide.
The morning trips are exhausting and becoming more of a struggle for me especially with the broken foot. I couldn't have made it without the help of all my friends. Thank you everyone!

Also check out Kok Sheng's post about this trip on his blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ria, good to know that there are still.. some sponges out there. I wonder what could have caused the drop in sponges..



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