29 November 2019

Two hovercraft land on Changi shore

This Changi shore is one of the nicest, with seagrass meadows and amazing marine life. Today, we saw two huge hovercrafts land on the beach, narrowly skirting the meadows.
Hovercraft lands on Changi Beach
This shore is still dominated by mussels, so our usual favourite sea stars and friends are scarce. I also saw fish traps, and people harvesting on the shore. But the seagrasses are still lush and lively with clams and small creatures.

Horse mussels still dominate the shore at the low water mark and below. We first noticed this during our Feb 2019 survey and the clams were still there during the Fish Expedition in Aug 2019. The Horse mussels form a dense firm mat, mostly further away from the low water mark. The shore nearer the low water mark is still soft and silty. There are also a lot of large Fan shell clams and many  Window pane shells of different sizes and many Hammer oysters.
Horse mussels (Modiolus sp.)
The shore is now no longer so hospitable for burrowing animals, having changed from a soft silty seagrassy one to a harder shore. While there were still many Pink warty sea cucumbers and a some Thorny sea cucumbers, I saw only one or two of the usual animals that used to be seen in large numbers. I saw one small Knobbly sea star, one small Biscuit sea star and couldn't find the Common sea stars. I saw one small Garlic bread sea cucumber, one Ball sea cucumber and one Smooth sea cucumber. I didn't see any sea urchins and didn't see any Haddon's carpet anemones. I also didn't see any fishes or crabs, although this might be because it was a daytime survey.
But the shore is still lively with lots of Orange striped hermit crabs. The abundant clams provide a hard surface for other animals to cling on like the Big hermit hitching anemone and other clams.
Despite the takeover by the Horse mussels, seagrasses are still growing well on this shore. Nearer the high shore, there were dense growths of Spoon seagrass with large leaves, and Needle seagrass with narrow leaves, and a scattering of Fern seagrass.
Horse mussels (Modiolus sp.)
Further away from the high shore, there were many patches of Needle seagrass with broad leaves, which I first observed in Feb 2019. I found the small patch of Smooth ribbon seagrass near the high shore, but did see any Noodle seagrass that I saw in Aug 2018,
A wide variety of mangrove seedlings continue to wash up on this shore.
Mangrove seedlings washed ashore at Changi
It was quite disconcerting to see two large hovercrafts churn up the water and sand as they landed on Changi beach, quite close to the seagrass meadows. I'm not sure if the area where they parked is used by sea turtles to lay eggs? I also wonder why they have to do this at low spring tide. Wouldn't the impact be reduced if they do this at a  higher tide?
Hovercraft from Changi Airport on Changi Beach
Here's a video of what I saw when the hovercrafts landed and departed the shore. On the Changi Airport Group website on airport emergency: "In line with ICAO's recommendation to deal with aircraft crashes in the waters surrounding the airport, AES is equipped with sea rescue capabilities. It has a fleet of emergency resources based in a Sea Rescue Base off the waters of Changi Airport. Operating highly specialised emergency vessels and equipment in the event of aircraft incidents out at sea, the Sea Rescue Base is also the only hovercraft operator in Singapore."
Two huge hovercrafts land on Changi Beach
The hovercraft were travelling close to the shoreline, approximately along the orange line between the line of floating blue drums (pink dots) and the shore line. They landed near the toilet at Changi Carpark 7. On our way home, we saw them berthed at what we call the Vopak Jetty at Changi Carpark 5 next to the SAF Jetty.
Other activities impacting the shore included a series of 4 fish traps laid on the shore. I checked and there didn't seem to be any animals in the traps.
Two people were also harvesting on the shore, dragging basket/box behind them. They seems to be picking up Window pane shells and other clams.
People collecting marine life at Changi
Massive reclamation on Pulau Tekong opposite the Changi shore is also ongoing.
Ongoing reclamation at Pulau Tekong from Changi
Changi shores are rich and easy for ordinary people to visit and appreciate. I do hope the shores will remain lively despite the many pressures that they face.

Photos by others on this trip

Marcus Ng

Jianlin Liu

Kelvin Yong

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