12 January 2024

Changi with otters and dugong

Wet and windy at a very accessible Changi shore! We saw otters and signs of dugong.
Living shores of Changi Carpark 7, Jan 2024
The shore was quiet. And mussels still dominate the shore.

I saw furrows that might be dugong feeding trails, quite high up near the shore. Usually these are only seen at super low tide seaward side. Dugong feeding trails are formed when dugongs chomp up seagrasses including their roots, leaving a shallow meandering furrow of about equal width and depth. We saw similar signs here on our last survey in Jun 2023, and yesterday at Carpark 6.
A pair of Smooth-coated otters quietly walked past us high up on the beach. Thanks to Marcus for alerting us to them! We are usually too busy looking down at our feet.
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
I worry when there is a lot of rain. In early 2007, there was mass death on Chek Jawa following massive flooding in Johor due to heavy rain in Dec 2006. Large numbers of carpet anemones, sea cucumbers, sea stars, sponges and other marine life were found dead on Chek Jawa. Here's media reports and related blog posts of the 2007 event.
Similar to our last survey in Jun 2023, I saw much fewer colourful sea cucumbers than in the past, with a more or less equal number of Pink warty sea cucumbers and Thorny sea cucumbers. Most were alright although a few were pale or had white rotting parts. I saw a few medium sized Haddon's carpet anemones - nice and healthy. There were many skeletons of large White sea urchins, Kelvin saw a dying one, and we didn't see any live healthy ones. Rachael found the skeleton of a Watering pot shell, which is a bivalve! We didn't see any sea stars.
The patch of horse mussels here seems to have grown much larger. They are now seen from the low water mark, in the past further seaward. The tide wasn't very low and water was murky so I couldn't tell how far out they grew. We first noticed this during our Feb 2019 survey and the clams were still there in Aug 2019 and Nov 2019. In Jun 2023, the patch was about 15m by 15m in the middle of the intertidal area exposed at about 0.1m. There still is hardly any seagrass growing among the mussels.
Compared to our last survey in Jun 2023, there seems to be much less seagrass growing among the mussels. But as in years past, toward the high shore, there remains dense growths of Spoon seagrass with small and large leaves, as well as Needle seagrass with narrow leaves. I also saw many small clumps of Fern seagrass today. The patch of Smooth ribbon seagrass near the high shore has grown much larger, now about 10m long and about 4m wide. I didn't see any Noodle seagrass which I first saw in Aug 2018.

What is the fate of these shores?

There doesn't seem to be a change in 2013 plans to reclaim all of Pasir Ris, all of Changi from Carpark 1 to Carpark 7 and beyond, and reclaim Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu. These appear to remain in place in the Long-Term Plan Review. Including plans for a road link that starts at Pasir Ris, crosses to Pulau Ubin, right across Chek Jawa to Pulau Tekong, and back to the mainland at Changi East.

See Changi shores for yourself before it's gone!

They are easy to get to, and enjoyed by many people. It remains rich in marine life. More details in "Changi - an easy intertidal adventure for the family".
Living shores of Changi Carpark 7, Jan 2024

More photos by others on the survey

Kelvin Yong

Rachel Goh


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