Jun 3, 2007

Nemo on Sentosa!

Wildfilms decided to document the shores near the cable car tower while we could. Since the tide wasn't that low, we focused on the area near Underwater World.
Almost the first thing seen (by Chay Hoon of course) was a large Carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii) in a patch of seagrases. There were three little anemone shrimps on it (see the tiny white spot on the lower right corner of this photo?)
A closer look and wow! There was a tiny little clown anemonefish among its tentacles too!
Later on, Chay Hoon and Alvin realised there were three of them. Two were so tiny they only had one white stripe!

The grassy shores had lots of other kinds of sea anemones as well.These are two kinds of anemones more commonly seen on our Northern shores like Chek Jawa and seldom at our Southern shores: the big Carpet anemone (Stichodactyla sp.) and a little group of small sea anemones that look like pom-poms (I don't know what they are).

Like the seagrass meadows of Chek Jawa, the Sentosa seagrass area also had window-pane shells (Placuna sp.) and fan shells (Pinna sp.), as well as lots of gong gong snails (Strombus canarium), all listed among the threatened animals of Singapore.

I decided to check out to the thicket of branching corals right in front of Underwater World.

Among the corals were lots of little colonial anemones in all kinds of patterns and colours.
Also the blue feathery soft corals that we see on our Southern Islands. And a nervous Condylactis anemone with very few tentacles.
Among the holes and burrows hide all kinds of animals. Here is a Head-stripe goby (Amblygobius stethophthalmus) at the entrance of a burrow of a snapping shrimp. While some gobies do live with snapping shrimps, I'm not really sure whether this is the case here. Perhaps the nice big burrow of this shrimp was merely a handy hiding place for this goby? There's still so much more to learn about our shores.

This area also has some clumps of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Large ships go past this channel but hardly cause a ripple as they go very slow. It is the smaller ferries and boats that zoom past, causing lots of waves that do have an impact on the shores and marine life.

The seagrass meadows on this part of Sentosa's shore faces major shopping malls and commercial areas. Isn't it amazing? Quite unique I should say! Above is Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) with a flower and an opened fruit, and below, a thick patch of Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.)

I came across this odd couple of Moon crabs (Matuta lunaris). I'm really wondering about this. Are they getting ready to mate. Usually females crabs are larger, so is the smaller crab the male? Or is something more sinister going on?

The sandy shores are very much alive. With tiny sand bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.) processing the sand for edible bits thus creating the typical neat little sand balls. In the pools among the sandy shore are lots of little fishes. Very well camouflaged but pretty if you look at them closely.

Just before sunrise, I met this solitary person with a bucket. I tried to start up a friendly conversation. He said he was collecting whatever he could "just for fun". And added that he heard this shore was going to be reclaimed anyway. He was quite well prepared with a collapsible bucket and little vials and ziplock bags. I also came across an abandoned trap.

Such encounters that makes me think twice when sharing about the wonderful marine life on our shores. On the one hand, it is important to raise awareness of the richness of our living shores. Otherwise, the tendency is to say "might as well reclaim as the shore is dead and there's nothing there". On the other hand, such information attracts collectors who may damage and denude these shores.

Should I have mentioned the nemos on Sentosa? What is to stop someone from scooping them up into a bucket and taking them away, only to have them die in a tank without reproducing? It is a dilemma.

Later in the day, fishermen started coming out to the shore and headed straight out onto the submerged shore to fish with the incoming tide. I spoke to three gentlemen who were about to take the plunge. They lamented the deterioration and loss of our shores, the restrictions on fishing. Nevertheless, they felt it was pointless for them to contribute towards trying to save our shores.

This photo shows some of the many pressures on our shores.

Following this visit, I've updated the checklist of marinelife on this portion of Sentosa's shores likely to be affected by reclamation for the Integrated Resort (IR). It takes many many visits to get a good idea of what is on a shore.

I'll be uploading the new photos of this trip on the flickr set on this shore.


mantabuster said...

What's the difference between the above blog and this
especially this photo

ria said...

I'm not really sure what your question is?

They were on entirely different days. In fact, different months. So we had different encounters.

But alas, you do highlight a similarity. We did have similar sad encounters in terms of littering and other human impacts on our shores.

The kueh balu we found in a container floating on Sentosa in April was amusing yes. But also sad. The shore is often treated as a dustbin.

We've been seeing these kind of impacts on all our trips. Recently, I've decided to start featuring these less than happy encounters.

In the hope of encouraging discussion and thought about how we can interact more positively with our shores.

People who collect and fish on our shores obviously love them too.

My hope is that we can all work together to ensure the shores remain rich and beautiful for all visitors.