Monday, July 16, 2007

Back to Changi

Finally found time to blog :P

Last Saturday, while the Wildfilms gang were off to Beting Bronok, I was back at Changi Beach, but this time round, with the Semakau gang and 2 friends.

Seems like the ball sea cucumber were making a healthy recovery, and this one below was in fact one of the first few animals I spotted at the beach.

During the monsoon season in January, the high rainfall resulted in the Johor River overflowing and flooding our northern shores with too much freshwater. Many marine organisms which live on saltwater died. I could still remember seeing thousands of dead ball sea cucumber at Chek Jawa...

The situation has certainly improved tremendously, and we are beginning to see more living ball sea cucumbers on our northern shores.

Changi is also one of the best places to find sand stars.

Sand stars are able to burrow into the sand to hunt for little seashells and also to hide from predators.

There were lots of moon crabs too.

Moon crabs has paddle-shaped legs which allow them to slice into the sand in a flash. the legs allow them to swim quickly too.

I was really hoping to find a seahorse, but instead, we found lots of its relative - the pipefish.

Like the seahorses, male pipefishes carry the eggs in a pouch until the baby fishes hatch.

And somehow, our northern shores are often visited by several types of sea hares, including the geographic sea hare below.

Sea hares got their name from the projections on their front ends which somewhat resemble rabbit ears. They are closely related to snails, and thus they have soft bodies, but they have an internal shell instead of an external one, like the moon snail below.

A moon snail has a large foot which often covers over the shell, and thus prevents the shell from being scratched. The moon snail shell is thus usually very smooth. Moon snails often hunt just beneath the sand for little shells. They secretes an acidic fluid to soften the shells before it drill through it with its radula (something like a tongue). The little shell animals are thus eaten within their shells!

On one of the sand bars, I noticed lots of round-shaped prints on the sand. Putting my hand under a print and lifting it out of the sand revealed a sand dollar.

Sand dollars are related to sea stars, sea cucumbers, and also the sea urchin below.

At one part of the shore, there were so many sea urchins among the seaweeds that I had to walk really carefully so as not to step on any of them.

Among the seaweeds and seagrasses were also a few stranded jellyfish.

Most of them were dead, but the one above was still alive when I found it. Hopefully it could endure till the tides comes back!

They were many swimming anemones too.

These anemones can actually swim by pulsating its body and tentacles. The photo the left shows it tucking in its tentacles, while the right photo shows it pushing them out.

I almost stepped onto this beautiful shrimp which swam pass my feet. And it burrowed quickly into the sand when I tried to take a few photos of it.

Somehow, there were lots of moulting crustaceans too.

We saw a few crabs getting out of their old shells. In fact, even the hermit crabs were moulting!

Was not able to take a picture of it getting out of its old shell as it finished before I could take out my camera. Crabs and hermit crabs are most vulnerable when they just moulted, as their shell has not yet hardened. Anyway, here's how the hermit crab looks like when the shell has hardened and it was happily scampering around looking for food.

And the hermit crab was the only one looking for food. Remember the sand star we saw earlier? I found another one just beneath the sand, and turning it over revealed that it has been feasting on some button snails!

Tide was soon rising, and we had to move to the higher shore. And this was what we spotted there.

A ghost crab! Ghost crabs usually only come out of its burrow at night. They are also one of the fastest runners on the shores, being able to move about 100 bodylengths per second!

Sadly, just as we were leaving, we saw a few people coming to the shores holding plastic bags.

They are poachers...

Will there be a day when all our wonderful shorelife go extinct from over-collection?

Hopefully, one day the poachers will understand that we have very little natural heritage left, and leave our wild places the way they are...

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