Location: Tanah Merah
The start of yet another low tide season! While the others had a fantastic time at Big Sisters island with turtle sighting (yes you heard me right!) and many other animals, I brought a group of SMU students along with Marcus to explore the shores of Tanah Merah.
The last we heard of Tanah Merah (TM) was about the oil spill and coral bleaching. Although it was an awfully early trip from 0200-0530 hours, the students were wonderful guidees and I hope they have learnt a great deal about the shore, coral reefs, oil spill impacts and coral bleaching.
Marcus was really a great help. Besides the many reef fishes and crabs that he had pointed out, he also found the first mainland record of this nudibranch - Platydoris scabra. It was so big that the students were surprised that nudibranchs can be bigger than 1cm! hehe... This fellow here was the length of my entire hand. Wow!
After a thorough briefing and umpteen times of warnings, the students managed to 'see' the stonefish! We found two in total and this one here was cunningly partially buried in the sand! Imagine not seeing the upturn mouth. :S To find out more about other dangerous animals, read Ria's detailed posting and compilation of the 'S' on shores...
Evil fish!!! :|
An interesting anemone that I had encountered was this one... This one resembles the banded anemone but the oral disk region is plain. I wonder if it's something else?
A large zebra solefish! It was a great find by Evans who first spotted the top eyes... Later while taking more photos, I realised that the fish had its tail bitten off! You can vaguely see the spokes of bones sticking out of the rear end. Fortunately it didn't die!
How come a solefish can become flat? I extracted this from the web:
Flatfishes do not start out life flat. The larvae look like most other fish. They are the same color on both sides, and have one eye on each side of the head. As the flatfishes grow, their color and pigmentation patterns change and one eye migrates across the top of their heads to end up on the same side as the other eye.
Some flatfishes are left-eyed and some are right-eyed. This means, some flatfishes have both eyes on the left side (left-eyed) and some have both eyes on the right side (right-eyed)! Left-eyed flatfish rest on their right side and right-eyed flatfish rest on their left side.
We were also startled on many occasions by the running horned-eye ghost crab! We caught this one feeding on its fresh catch. :)
Alas, some situations at TM were still not too good. The spoon seagrass beds have completely been decimated to nothing but creeper snails. However, I found two red reef hermit crabs loitering the experiment sites. We are not too sure why the seagrass has disappeared! We only found one medium patch of Thalassia sp. and patchy Enhalus acroides.
Further up the shore, we noted the presence of black sand covered with flimsy white mouldy-like stuff... Could that be breaking down the oil via microbial action?
Before we head home, we took a quick look at the coral garden and we could easily see the boulder-like corals due to bleaching. Those corals are likely the Favids... Glad to see TM recovering slowly, with much of the previously affected animals returning to their normal lives. However, I did notice the shift in creeper snail zonation, from lower shore to higher up shore. A result of the oil spill area?
Well, let's hope that the next trip up TM will be better! :)