18 June 2019

Sea fan garden at Changi fading away?

There is an underwater garden on the rockier parts of Changi. This morning, we survey it in the rain.
Various marine life on Changi rocky shore
This was the only nice patch that I could find. Today, there were far less sea fans and sponges and the water was oily (we could feel it on our underwater cameras). Seagrasses are still there and we still saw interesting nudibranchs and other marine life. Alas, also a lot of abandoned fishing nets.

We started under the Changi Coastal Boardwalk which used to have a lot of sea fans beyond the fishing line reach. Today, we saw much fewer sea fans, most were small and in deeper water directly under the boardwalk. There were a few large sea fans elsewhere on the shore, mostly in deeper water.
Exploring Changi
There were a lot more sea fans on our last survey here in Aug 2018. The photo below was taken at that survey. I'm not sure what why we saw so few today. But the water was oily, we could feel it on our underwater cameras after putting them into the water.
Living sea fans at Changi Coastal Boardwalk
The water surface was also very scummy, possibly due to the downpour. The scum coated portions of the sea fan that were sticking out above water at low spring tide.
Gnarled sea fan (Echinomuricea pulchra)
I saw a few Candelabra sea fansGnarled sea fansSkinny sea fans, Sea whip and a Yellow sea fan. I sense the sea fan situation is slowly deteriorating because in our Aug 2018 suvey, I saw fewer sea fans compared to my last survey here in May 2017, which in turn was already less than what I saw in Aug 2016.
There were other cnidarians too on the shore. I saw several Common cerianthids. And there were many clumps of Candy hydroids as well as Stinging hydroids. I saw a few Flowery sea pens and some large cerianthids. nestled among them. I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone and one Pink flowery soft coral that was completely white. There were many small clumps of Button zoanthids.
Here and there, colourful sponges and other marine life clustered on the rocks and shore. There were many patches of healthy looking brown Zebra coral.
There were also a lot less sponges today compared to our last survey in Aug 2018, fewer and smaller sponges, less variety. Melted chocolate sponge was the most abundant. But there were many other small clumps of different sponges on the rocks and jetty legs.
Nevertheless, we come across the animals that are typically found in such situations. These include nudibranchs and flatworms,
Like most Changi shores, there are a lot of echinoderms here. I saw some sea cucumbers, many Rock stars and a brittle star. There were many synaptid sea cucumbers draped on the sponges on the shore.
The large patches of lush Spoon seagrass that I saw for the first time during our Aug 2018 survey are still there. The sparse patches of Hairy spoon seagrass that I've been seeing since Jun 2012 are still there  in many parts of the shore along the low water mark. No landscape shot as the tide turned before sunrise.
Sadly, there remains large abandoned nets on this shore. The large boxy trap under the jetty that I have seen for since May 2017 has already become encrusted with marine life. This bunch attached to four blue drums seem different from a similar set up I saw in Aug 2018.
Abandoned fishing nets along Changi Boardwalk
There is another clump directly under the Changi Coastal Boardwalk.
Abandoned fishing nets along Changi Coastal Boardwalk
Even on a Tuesday morning in the rain, there were signs of extensive fishing activity on the boardwalk: lots of tied up slots for fishing poles, fish traps and nets.
Fishing and trapping at Changi Coastal Boardwalk
There was one person in the large shelter near the boardwalk surrounded by what looks like fishing gear.
Fishing and trapping at Changi Coastal Boardwalk
In April 2018, two otters were found dead near the Changi boardwalk near Changi Sailing Club. According to media reports, one of the otters was found along the beach (left), while the other was found in a metal trap used to catch crabs and fish (right). We did not come across any such large traps today. Here's about how coastal boardwalks can do more harm than good.
Let's hope this shore and all the animals that live here stay safe until we can return next year.

Photos by others on this trip

Richard Kuah

Kelvin Yong

Jing Ying

Others on this trip: Shawne, Jing Ying.

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