12 August 2014

Surprises at special Changi shore

Today, we check up a surprisingly large seagrass meadow at Changi which we rarely visit.
Colourful sea cucumbers, nudibranch and other amazing finds!

Today is the first time I'm surveying this shore at a very low spring tide. I'm surprised at how huge the seagrass meadows are. They are covered in lush growths of Spoon seagrass and Fern seagrass. I didn't notice any dugong feeding trails. The full moon made for a magical survey when we first started.
Seagrass meadows provide shelter for juvenile fishes and small fishes. This little filefish is the same colour, size and shape as a seagrass blade! I saw many of them sheltering in pools left behind at low tide.
There were many Seagrass pipefishes among the seagrasses. This fish has a pointed snout with its mouth at the tip. It also has tubular nostrils and tiny pectoral fins!
A small shallow pool was full of little Mangrove whiprays. Among the seagrasses I saw a small Pink ear emperor and a ball of tiny Striped eeltail catfishes. Kok Sheng also found a seahorse!

I was amazed to see three colourful Sea apple sea cucumbers. Their bright clashing colours advertise their toxic nature. They should not be eaten or kept in an aquarium as they are likely to kill its tank mates.

There were lots of Thorny sea cucumbers as well as Pink warty sea cucumbers. In between this pair of sea cucumbers is a solitary ascidian covered in fluffy encrusting growths.
There were lots of Ball sea cucumbers buried and floating loose. I also saw one Beige sea cucumber and several Orange sea cucumbers.

I didn't see many sea stars today. I only saw a few small Biscuit sea stars. And one small orange Cake sea star. We had seen more kinds of sea stars here on our last trip in Jun 2013.
I only saw a few Painted sand stars. And this one seems to have some sort of sickness that is eating up the centre part of its body.

How nice to see a fat and happy Big-head seagrass octopus. I saw another smaller one stranded on the high shore, still alive. I'm sure it will be alright when the tide turns.
There are several large Haddon's carpet anemones here often infested with little Carpet anemone shrimps. There were also many large White sea urchins dotting the seagrass meadows. I didn't see any Black sea urchins or Thorny sea urchins.
Also abundant on the shore were Tiger anemones. I also saw some  Flowery sea pens, most of them small. But I didn't see any Ball flowering soft corals.
 I saw four uprooted and stranded Tiger anemones today. The first time I've notice this. Oh dear.
There were not that many cerianthids on the shore. This one is an Elegant cerianthid and next to it (lower right corner) is a black Phoronid worm that probably lives with it.
There were a few Slender sea pens and I was glad to see some Sea pencils.

How nice to see this nudibranch in pajamas. This animal is believed to eat sea pens and there was a rather sad looking  Flowery sea pen near it (upper right corner).
And here's a burrowing Noble volute with its siphon sticking out above the ground. There were also many Fan clams buried in the soft ground.
On hard surfaces in deeper water, more 'reefy' kinds of marine life can be found. Such as the Knobbly soft corals, which are apparently invasive and tend to settle on artificial structures. Nestled among them, little crabs and several Onyx cowries and Miliaris cowries. But we didn't see as many sea fans, feather stars and some other creatures that we saw on our last visit here in Jun 2013.
Kok Sheng also found this unidentified cowrie snail. It refused to show its body. Even 3 hours later...
There's this strange snail that looks like but is different from the more common Spiral melongena. It has a longer pointy part of the shell, and the body is not black.
I also saw large patches of this seaweed that I've not seen before.
I saw this man foraging on the shore since when I first arrived on the shore about 2 hours ago.

I had a friendly chat with him. He spoke good English and explained that he was collecting Gong-gong snails to sell at restaurants. He does eat some his catch too. Best steamed and eaten with chilli. He said the Gong-gong on this part of Changi was not as clean as those at Changi Point.
His box was nearly full! I noticed that he collected only adult snails. There were many more Gong-gong on the shores that he did  not collect. These were mostly juveniles. 
Alas, there were many piles of tangled fishing lines, and near the high shore, I saw a crab trap with two dead horseshoe crabs.
I hope this special Changi shore will be alright until I can visit it again next year. Tomorrow, another predawn trip to another Northern shore...

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