29 May 2021

'Nemos' at East Coast Park

A reef has settled at a seawall at East Coast Park. While one of the nicest seagrass patches is growing at the mouth of a canal here.
Living reefs at East Coast Park, May 2021
Today, I saw 'Nemos' here! 

How nice to see several Clown anemonefishes in a Giant carpet anemone in the reefy part of the shore! Here's a video of them. 
Clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
Just a short distance from the mouth of the canal, there were many large well formed corals.
Living reefs at East Coast Park, May 2021
These corals settled naturally on the rocks just below the artificial seawall.
Living reefs at East Coast Park, May 2021
I saw a good variety of corals and I didn't see any that were bleaching. In fact, most seemed very healthy without any dead patches.
Various corals, East Coast Park May 2021
Most of the corals were those commonly seen on our shores: delicate folded Disk corals, squat Pore boulder corals and Anemone corals, and other boulder shaped Merulinid corals. But I also saw some less commonly seen ones like Cauliflower coralLettuce coral and even one Mushroom coral.
There was also a patch of Branching montipora corals (about 3m x 3m). I reached this spot at sunrise, in the photo are lights of the many many large ships parked off the East Coast. I couldn't walk much further because the shore here seemed to be pure silt. I sunk deep until my foot reached the rocks of the seawall. A great way to break an ankle...so I stopped here.
Branching montipora coral (Montipora sp.)
One of the nicest patch of seagrasses in Singapore is at the mouth of this canal at East Coast Park! Almost all the seagrass species for Singapore can be found here. And they grow very lush and healthily, green and fresh without much epiphytes, leaves long and not cropped. As in the past, I saw Spoon seagrass (large and small leaves); Needle seagrass (broad and narrow leave); Noodle seagrass; very long Sickle seagrassSmooth ribbon seagrass; Serrated ribbon seagrass and lots of Tape seagrass with long leaves. Among the seagrasses were a lot of Slender pink pom pom seaweed.
Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium)
In the seagrassy areas, I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone, several hermit crabs, many small Window-pane clams, a few small Fan shell clams. But we came across a bag full Fan shell clams (dead) higher up on the shore. Not sure what is happening here.
There was also a small sand bar here. Here I saw many small Cake sand dollars, and buried were a few moon snails and several large Remarkable sea cucumbers
Living shores at East Coast Park, May 2021
As on our past surveys, there aren't many of the usual animals that we find in seagrass meadows and reefy areas elsewhere. It's as if there is a beautiful house with many rooms and furniture, but no one has come to live there yet. Today, I saw a young Blue-lined Hind (a kind of grouper), a small Arabian cowrie and a Brown-stripe flatworm in the reefy areas. There were scatterings of Tiny red sea cucumbers and a few small Skinny sea fans with Red spindle cowries.
I came across an abandoned crab trap on the reefy area. As the tide turned, three people set up a 20m long net in the middle of the lagoon. I had a friendly chat with one of them. They said they will remove the net before the tide covers it, and they will make sure the otters don't get trapped in it - after I mentioned that the otters often fished here too. They don't do this all the time, he said. They then went off to the shore to fish: one with a rod, one with a cast net, another with a long fish trap.
This is the first time I properly surveyed the reefy part of the shore since Apr 2016! It rained heavily during my last survey here in Feb 2020, so I didn't even properly survey the seagrasses here.  As I headed home, I saw an Egret hunting in the shallow water, while a pair of Junglefowl were foraging on the beach.
Egret and Junglefowl

What is the future of these shores?

These living East Coast shores are precious because they may be reclaimed in the 2013 landuse plan by the Ministry of National Development released in response to 2013 Population White Paper.
The blue outlined areas are "Possible Future Reclamation". The plans include massive reclamation along the entire East Coast.
Natural regeneration on Singapore's artificial shores and structures is already happening now. Unintentionally, with zero replanting. Can we plan coastal works to allow reefs, mangroves and seagrasses to naturally regenerate? Naturalise canals leading to the sea for a continuum of freshwater wetlands to mangroves? Imagine what's possible! Reefs and natural marine ecosystems at our doorstep, for all in the City to enjoy. More about this idea in my feedback to the Draft Master Plan 2013.

Others on this survey: Vincent Choo

Other shores surveyed today

Chay Hoon checked out another East Coast Park shore

Kok Sheng checked out another East Coast Park shore

Jonathan Tan checked out the corals at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Nathaniel Soon was with Jonathan's survey


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