Sep 2, 2007

Evening at St. John's

It's the first evening tide of the season as the morning super low tides ease off. And the usual bunch of beach stalwarts were out to revisit St. John's Island, beneath a threatening sky.Lying just off the Sisters Island, St. John's shore is crammed with all kinds of marine life.Soft and hard corals abound.

Some hard corals flouresce at dusk, the bright green polyps glowing in the water!Among the first things spotted, by Ron, was a Spider conch (Lambis lambis).Later on, I spotted the pretty snail on the right. I don't know what it is.

The usual egg crabs were seen; Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus) and Brown egg crab (Atergatis floridus).Both these crabs are highly poisonous to eat. So they are rather 'bo-chap' and trundle about slowly on the shore.

As it got dark, the octopuses started coming out.Worms also got busy. While most people may consider them icky, the worms on the shores can be quite fascinating.I saw a black flatworm with an orange-and-white edge to its frilly body (on the left). As well as a very VERY long ribbon worm (on the right) in its striped pajamas.
Some worms have bristley sides (left), others have feathery tentacles on their heads (right).

There was a LOT of sargassum of various shapes on the shores. And the brown seaweed was literally crawling with dove snails.They seemed to be grazing the algae off the broad brown blades of the sargassum. You can see the 'clean' areas next to these snails.
Of course, once there's a whole bunch of animals all grouped together, hanky panky seems to be part of the festivities.

The shore was also full of fishes.The little darting cardinals easily distract from well camouflaged fishes like this Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta).

Other assorted fishes were encountered.I don't know what the fish is on the left; while on the right is the tail of a Carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens) which obviously burrowed into a crevice that was too short for it.

Marcus yelled "Stingray all around me!" and I rushed over, carefully, to have a look.There were several small Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma) flitting about with the incoming tide. We managed to snap this one that stopped for a little while.

Nem Mode never really being switched off, even though the nem team was not with us, I looked out for nems.There were lots of frilly anemones (Phymanthus sp.) of various patterns and colours.And this transparent thing that looks like a sea anemone, but is actually probably a peacock anemone as it has a ring of smaller tentacles in the centre, and I've seen these live in tubes.As the tide came in, I thought I should have a look at the swimming lagoon.

On the way there, I bumped into a Land hermit crab (Coenobita cavipes). These pretty animals are more active at night. They are very happy on the shores, scavenging for food and keeping things clean and tidy. It's a pity that some people take them home to keep as pets. Our marine life should live wild and free instead of caged for the pleasure of a few people. The Land hermit crab is unfortunately listed among the threatened animals of Singapore due to habit loss and over-collection.

In the swimming lagoon, the sand was littered with creeper snails.I startled a Ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma) and came across a juvenile Gong-gong (Strombus canarium) which had not yet grown the extended 'wing' on the shell. And right in the middle of the lagoon, were clusters of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus)!These sea stars are no longer common and are in fact listed among our threatened animals. It was thus a delight to see them there. Many were stacked in pairs getting ready to mate. There were also some smaller ones, which is rather unusual to see.

St. John's is truly a marvellous shore that's very much alive.

There are lots of other sightings that I missed: seahorse, velcro crab and more. Here's more about the trip on other blogs:
Chay Hoon's colourful clouds blog: seahorse, more fishes, flatworm and tiny nudi and a successful waterproof camera test.
Ron's tidechaser blog: weird anemones, velcro crab, moon snails and more about how spider conch snails gather together.
The budak blog for a more lyrical account of our trip, and a feature on the land hermit crabs found there, perhaps two species on St. John's?
July's discovery blog: our very own native pong pong tree, rocky features, anemone shrimp and more.
Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog: reefs crowded with life, great billed heron, lots of crabs and more.

Despite the ominous clouds and threat of rain as we began the trip, the evening turned out to be clear with a velvet sky sprinkled with stars. The water was equally clear, even with the incoming tide!

Andy and I noted that the rubbish we saw tucked into the cliffside on our earlier trip had been removed to the high shore. That's good.

On a less happy note, poor July's camera went swimming today. Sigh. That's one of the hazards of exploring our shores.


tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

:P Kok Sheng spotted the spider conch actually. Pai seh


My name is Roger Baillargeon

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Roger Baillargeon
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( Pet True Stories )

Anonymous said...

Hello! I would just like to let you know that someone on Facebook is using your images to sell these hermit crabs. I'm guessing that you didn't give them permission to use your images of the hermit crab, since you are against people collecting them for the pet trade. If you'd like to see it and make a complaint it is in the Facebook group "Hermit Crab Friends Worldwide" and the person is Christian Brockenauer. Please feel free to contact me with further questions.

Ria Tan said...

Thanks for the alert on the use of the photo for the pet trade. You are right, that they did not ask for my permission and if they did, I would not agree to allow them to use it for this purpose.

Once again, thank you for your alert.