Oct 3, 2007

Changi again

Beachfleas were back at Changi last night, this time at a different portion of this very long shore. This part of Changi is very soft so it's a little challenging to explore, but it's very much alive!There were lots of little brittle stars among the seagrasses there. These looked different from the very large ones we saw the night before.

Many were lying about upside down. We don't really know why.
Some had swollen bulbous pink portions at their central disks (like the one on the left), while others didn't (see the one on the right). This is a mystery to me. Pink ones carrying eggs? Hmmm.

There were lots of little Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scabra) (photo on the right) among the seagrasses and seaweeds. But YC found a large Biscuit sea star as big as his hand. These sea stars do look like they were made out with a cookie cutter! On the sandier parts, there were lots of little Sand stars (Astropecten sp.).

There were a few carpet anemones too, although they were not very large.
I tried to ignore all the sea anemones we saw as we weren't out on a hunt. But I did see the usual ones. Ron and Marcus, however, found a very special sea anemone! Marcus wrote to Dr Daphne about it and Ron blogged about it on his tidechaser blog.

Among the seagrasses on this soft shore were tiny octopuses, little gobies and lots of other wriggly things.

This silty soft shore is next to a rocky portion. Here, there were lots of weird blobs.I promised Lily I would feature some of these blobs as she had been intrigued by them on her last visit. The yellow blobs and the brown slimy thing that looks like melted chocolate are both animals! Each is a colony of really tiny animals and these animals are called ascidians. They are quite commonly seen on many of our rocky shores.

Sponges are animals too!These purple branching sponges are growing very well on the Changi rocky shore. A sponge is not a colony but is a simple animal that has a body structure to suck in water to filter out the edible bits. Thus it is full of holes!

There are even some really tough hard corals on the rocky shore.This is a Zebra hard coral (Oulastrea sp.). Each hard coral is a colony of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp builds a little hard skeleton. When exposed out of water, the polyp retracts into its skeleton. The polyps of this particular hard coral produces black-and-white skeletons, hence its common name.

Corals, sponges, ascidians are preyed upon by other animals. Like this pretty flatworm (Pseudobiceros gratus).
Nudibranchs also eat animals that don't move about. But we didn't see any nudibranchs yesterday.

This shore has special significance for YC and me. About 6 years ago, I received an email from YC about the spectacular finds he discovered on this shore. At that time, I was focused on Chek Jawa. His find encouraged me to have a look at Changi and later, our other shores too. So it was YC and his Changi find that started wildfilms, beachfleas and everything else that I'm doing today!

As YC and I were reminiscing about these events, I remarked that unfortunately, today, we won't see the seahorse that he saw years ago and was raving to me about in his first email.

Just as I said it, I came across...
Yes, a seahorse! It had a very distended tummy and at first I thought it was a pregnant male. But this one has an anal fin (the tiny flap under the belly) so it's probably a female.

Wow! Changi's shores are still very much alive despite the years and pressures on it.

Alas, as we were about to leave, we came across an abandoned driftnet.There were 3 large horseshoe crabs trapped in it, as well as four rather angry crabs. The team gently and carefully cut out the trapped animals with Chay Hoon's handy scissors. It took a long while but the animals were all eventually released.

The driftnet was brought all the way off the beach and thrown into the bin. This is the only way to permanently stop deaths caused by abandoned driftnets.

All along the beach we saw people fishing and at least one person using a cast net.

Links to more about the trip
Ron's tidechaser blog : strange and rare anemone, sea cucumbers, fan worms and more!

1 comment:

Lily said...

Thank you, Ria! :o) BRgds, Lily.