May 18, 2007

Surprising Sentosa

18th May 2007. It was the second low-tide early day in a row. Only this morning, the sky had an orange tint and the air was heavy with moisture. Drip, drip....on the windshield as I was beckoned past the toll of charge (unlike the 17th when the entry fee was requested). Si Yang was already waiting at UWW (he came an hour too early at 3.30am!) and we headed off the along long coastal walk in. With Jen Lee finding out where the assortment of corals were by daring adventure on the 17th, we headed straight to that spot walking briskly as the rain threatened it's dance. We decided to wait a while for the murky water level to go down a bit more. Then the heavens started the light and sound show. First light teasing rain, then the heavy pounding. We waited out the rain chatting and occasionally playing with our torches (as kids would - ha!...perhaps actually in fear of suddenly meeting any snakes disturbed by the forest clearance). Finally after about an hour, the last drop fell.

SY almost immediately found a Gong Gong trying to make haste away from us. And then a rather nicely patterned crab.

I then made my way over to the signature 1m wide leathery coral which JL had discovered the morning before and which had been visible from quite far away. This was certainly a sight!

It seemed as if this 1m specimen was an anchor tenant at the coral oasis.

All around it were various other coral and sponges. The variety was confusing as many of them looked very similar. The pictures tell it better...

In between all of this were the tiny creatures...snapping shrimp, other shrimp, lots of little fish, many crabs, most of which quickly shied away from the lights. It was difficult to get a good shot of all except the slowest of movers.

There were quite a few ball corals (at least that's what I call them being very much ignorant of the various coral species found in Singapore waters...there's just soooo much to remember!). Here's a series for thought...look at the intricacy of the patterns... A microcosm within itself!

Amazing! Nature's first mazes were in the seas!

This particular spot also had some veggies as well. Halopilla was everywhere.

There was also what seemed to be a red plastic bag but which turned out to be a kind of red seaweed.

Nice green globules!

A coast guard boat quietly sneaked up on us and suddenly shone it's super duper white spotlight at us. We kept on with bent backs and huddled over the corals blasting the flashes at interesting objects and subjects. It moved on as quietly as it had come.

As the sky brightened up, the variety of corals and neighbours showed themselves. The -0.2m tide made it possible to see the abundance of variety.

Although the substrate was generally muddy, it was still possible for such a variety of corals to survive and thrive.

Towards the end of the backbreaking search, SY carefully approached, having wondered off towards the cable car tower.

He had found a little octopus which had somehow stranded itself on an exposed part of the sand. It didn't want to leave SY's plastic tub and metal chopstick. We inverted the tub in a small pool and let the octopus slither out at it's own time. It was all white at first but later turned to brown with spots to match the camouflage of the sand-mud substrate.

The day before, the team had found a large seahorse about 12cm long around the same area. Too bad Mr Seahorse and Ms Octopus...some noisy yellow steeled objects will be arriving soon to demolish your playground. [Not to worry, Arthur Dent felt the same way moments before the earth was demolished to make way for an interstellar highway. He survived...even though the earth did not. See Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.]

Funnily enough, the arrival of the noisy yellow objects is a matter of time for this beach....Douglas Adams' "Last Chance to See" is exactly on point now for this beach and it's residents.
So long Mr Seahorse and Ms Octopus!

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so ~ Douglas Adams, "Last Chance to See"