Jul 2, 2007

Worm for Breakfast!

It was another moonlit morning on Changi beach. Just a few steps out into the sandflats and I saw a large flatfish (Synaptura commersoniana). Just lying there. This is odd as these fishes are usually well hidden in the sand.
A closer look and I realised it was swallowing a worm!

Chay Hoon started to film it as it gulped down a few centimetres of breakfast. After a while, it got annoyed with all the unwanted attention. With a few flips of its body, it disappeared, leaving only two beady eyes sticking out of the surface. The worm, originally hidden under the fish turned out to be REALLY long!
Here's a closer look at the business end of a flatfish (left photo). Flatfishes are born like other 'normal' fishes with eyes on both sides of the head. Soon after hatching, one eye moves to settle next to the other eye and the fish starts swimming on one side!
The injured worm soon attracted others in need of a nibble. A little whelk with an anemone on its shell arrived within minutes. While a tiny hermit crab soon joined the queue. Meanwhile the flatfish stopped swallowing. Probably it was already full up of worm?

Changi Beach has good stretches of seagrasses, including the delightful Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa). Here, the Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) are as large and healthy as those found on Chek Jawa.
The seagrass meadows shelter a huge variety of animals. Baby Kite butterflyfishes (Parachaetodon ocellaris) are sometimes seen. Small green filefishes hardly bigger than a seagrass leaf are almost impossible to spot. Shrimps, snails and LOTS of crabs crowd this seagrass kopi tiam at this hour of the day.

The seahorse (Hippocampus sp.) is always a special find! And on Changi, they are still suprisingly common. This morning, we met this bright yellow seahorse.
Seahorses don't move very much, and give birth to a few live young. They thus do not colonise new places very fast. Removing seahorses from an area may mean no more seahorses there for a long long time. So I do hope our Changi seahorses are left where they are. So that there can be seahorses on Changi forever!

Today Changi's shores were polka-dotted with small sea urchins.
Both the black sea urchin (Temnopleurus toreumaticus) and the white sea urchin (possibly Salmacis sphaeroides) were busy on the beds of green Sea lettuce (Ulva sp.). Some of them were really tiny!

Among the seagrasses, I saw this very pretty spotted sea cucumber.
I have never seen one like it before and I have no idea what it is! Changi continually throws up surprises every time we visit.

Another mysterious find: Chay Hoon saw this sea pencil (a kind of sea pen) with tear-drop shaped things stuck to it. The shape somewhat resembles the cuttlefish/squid egg capsules that we sometimes see. But these capsules are clear and smooth. Hmmm, we are baffled.
Next to it is a lovely sea anemone that looks like it's made of blown glass. I have no idea what it is although it is quite commonly seen.

On the sandy shore, I chanced upon this odd-shaped hard white thing. What could it be?

It is actually a bivalve! Yes, it's related to clams.
Sometimes called the Watering pot shell, I think its scientific name describes it more vividly: Brechites penis.

The animal lies buried with the pointy end deep in the ground, and the broad end with little holes flush with the surface. In this way, it safely sucks in water to filter out edible bits, the way other clams do.
There was a tiny chiton (right photo) on the shell. Which I of course only saw when I got home and enlarged the photo. Ron asked if we saw chitons in Singapore...well, we sometimes do Ron. But they are tiny and not the giant ones you saw in New Zealand.

Lots of other marine life were also encountered!

Ron's "Changi got things to see meh?" reveals the answer to the usual question an ordinary person would ask when we say we are excited about Changi.

While Budak shares on his blog about moon crabs and black and white sea urchins and more about the sole swallowing the worm.

All too soon it was sunrise, and a glorious one too!
(Finally! After the power failure sunrises over the last two mornings).
Meanwhile, the moon was setting behind the tall Rhu trees on the shores.Chay Hoon and I had to leave early to catch work, and said goodbye to the rest via phone as they were dispersed way over the still exposed seagrass meadows.
Changi beach is popular with fishermen. There were several already ready and waiting for the incoming spring tide.
The gear included shrimps in a collapsible box kept alive with a battery operated aerator, and what looks like a packet tube worms still in their tubes.
Up on the high shore, under the shelter of the Rhu trees, an entire household has set up in tents!Kids toys were drying on the bench, there was a kitchen set up on the barbecue pit, and clothes were drying on lines. Hammocks were strung up inside the shelters, and there were mahjong tables and other stuff.

There are certainly many different ways to appreciate our shores!

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