11 April 2016

East Coast Park: corals, seagrasses and otters!

This morning, a small team surveyed an East Coast Park shore that is only accessible at super low tide. We found lush seagrasses and corals!
We also encountered a large group of Smooth-coated otters! And a seahorse too!

Throughout our survey, a group of possibly 10 Smooth-coated otters were hunting and playing nearby. Mostly ignoring us!
Smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)
It's not surprising that the otters love this shore as it is lush with seagrasses and corals. This shore has the largest patch of Noodle seagrass on the mainland which I have ever seen. My last trip here was in Jun 2015, but at that time, I still wasn't walking well and didn't explore much of it.
Among the abundant animals I saw in the seagrasses were Gong-gong snails, Black lipped conch snails, Dubious nerite snails and Fan shell clams. On the sandy parts there were many Cake sand dollars. On the canal walls, Ivan saw Diadema sea urchins!
Other animals were one Slender sea pen, a few cerianthids and several large Haddon's carpet anemones. We also saw two Fat-armed jellyfishes zooming past in the outgoing tide. On the rocks, there were clumps of Stinging hydroids.
Among the lush Smooth ribbon seagrass was one Haddon's carpet anemone that was bleaching. But most of the corals and other animals I saw were not bleaching.
Spoon seagrasses as usually is the most common, with large leaf blades. There were also Needle seagrasses, both with narrow and broad leaf blades.
There were also several clumps of Tape seagrass all of them with nice long leaf blades.
Here's a video of the seagrasses I saw on this shore.
Seagrasses at East Coast Park
Where the seagrass meadows end, the corals start to appear!
As usual, I check for coral bleaching. Although some of the corals appear rather pale, I did not see any that were bleaching. Merulinid (previously Favid) corals were the most common, with many different kinds seen.
There were many Boulder pore corals and Branching pore corals. Most were alright, although one had many pink spots.
There were also several Anemone corals.
There were many Disk corals of various kinds. Most were well formed and healthy looking.
I saw one Cauliflower coral and one Crinkled sandpaper coral which were not bleaching. In the past, these two species were the first to bleach.
Ywee Chieh found a Tiger-tailed seahorse! He was very pregnant so we didn't disturb him.
Here's a video of the corals and seagrasses on this shore, as well as the seahorse that we saw.
Corals at East Coast Park with Tiger-tailed seahorse (Hippocampus comes)
We came across an abandoned fishing net. One large coastal horseshoe crab was trapped in it and was long dead. A small Spot-bellied forceps crab was still alive, probably trapped as it tried to eat the horseshoe crab. We released the crab and brought the net out to dispose of it.
The trash bag in the dustbin nearby was not properly set up, so trash was spilling out. Sigh.
I hope this shore remains safe from humans and other impacts. For the otters and seahorses to flourish among the lovely seagrasses and corals!

Photos by others on this trip

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