Jul 31, 2008

Changi: A closer look

3am and we're on Changi for the last of this year's morning spring low tides. We've learnt that it pays to take a closer look when out on the shores.This patch of shore may look boring at first glance, but it has lots of interesting animals! Can you see at least four of them? OK, the photo is rather low res.There was a mantis shrimp at the top left corner. This hunter has snazzy fold-up pincers that resemble the arms of the more familiar insect, the praying mantis. It's not a true shrimp and belongs to a separate Order Stomatopoda.In the middle is a living Gong gong (Strombus canarium), its pair of eyes on stalks sticking out from under the well camouflaged shell.On either side of the snail, the tiniest little Striped hermit crab (Clibanarius sp.) that I've seen. And a tiny scorpion fish, probably Paracentropogon longispinis. Indeed we saw lots of fishes today at Changi. Here's more about the fishes we saw today.

Taking a closer look at the many Window pane shells (Placuna sp.) on the shores, I noticed fuzzy stuff on the surface of one.They are the feathery tentacles of keelworms (Family Serpulidae) that settled on the shell!Here's a closer look at another bunch of keelworms that settled on a log on the shore.Hard surfaces also provide a place for animals such as hydroids to settle.Although they look like colourful plants, these are actually colonies of tiny animals.Here's a closer look at the individual polyps that make up the colony.And another look.

I also came across a strange looking sea anemone.After I took a close look, I realised it had much longer tentacles!But these were so transparent I nearly missed them!

Even large animals are well hidden! Such as the ghost crabs!The ghost crabs (Ocypode cerathophthalmus) come out of their burrows at night but it appears, even when they are out hunting on the shores, they can skulk half buried in the sand!Ghost crabs move really fast!Here's one that's settled down to let us take a photo of it.

Today the tide was really low so we could venture out quite far. Where we saw a Bailer snail (Melo melo)!In our explorations, we have only seen this snail regularly at Beting Bronok. It's nice to see it also on Changi.

We also saw lots of sea cucumbers today, as well as other echinoderms. More about these sightings.

Also seen today, several small carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.), lots of big white sea urchins (Salmacis sp.), a large Peacock sole (Pardachirus pavoninus) in deeper water, some moon crabs, lots of swimming crabs of all sizes, plenty of hermit crabs many with anemones on their shells, many 'pencil' sea pens, and many active moon snails (mostly Polinices didyma).

Missing today: big peacock anemones (Order Ceriantharia) (there were a few of the smaller kind), button snail shells (Umbonium vestiarum).

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