Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Changi Beach on 16 Nov 2008

Dark clouds were looming when I set off from my place last Sunday, and little raindrops started falling from the sky as I made my way to Changi Beach. We had been lucky with the weather for the past few days, and fortunately, today was no exception.

As I was reaching Changi, the rain stopped.

LK and ST were already there, down on the shores among the many beach-goers. The school holidays had started, and the beach was flooded with kids and their parents.

There were quite a bit of trampling on the exposed sand flat, and we were rather worried for the intertidal life trapped on exposed ground due to the receded tide. Hopefully these beach-goers had watched where they stepped, and I certainly hope that anyone reading this blog can help to spread the conservation message the next time they visit our shores.

I joined LK and ST on the shore, and we decided to move on to a less crowded area. Fortunately, despite the many beach-goers, the shore was teeming with life as usual.

Fan shell (Family Pinnidae)
In the shallow waters, we saw several fan shells (Family Pinnidae) with their valves opened, probably filtering for plankton or tiny organic particles to feed.

Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.)
Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.) were spotted almost every few steps I took. These sea cucumbers are probably the most common sea cucumber at Changi. The ones you see on the beach are probably just a small fraction of the total population, since they can burrow into the sand.

Pink thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis)
The pink thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis) are seasonally abundant on our northern shores. When the tide is high, they will spread out their feeding tentacles to collect food particles in the water.

Sea cucumber (Cucumarid sp.)
I have seen this sea cucumber many times at Changi, probably a cucumarid sp.

Sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.)
Small sea urchins (Temnopleurus sp.) were sometimes found in large numbers among the algae. When they were in season, we could sometimes find hundreds of them on a single shore!

Sand star (Astropecten sp._
As it got darker, the sand stars (Astropecten sp.) starting emerging from the sand.

Starfish, Sand star (Astropecten sp.)
This particular type of sand star were most common, and we can see a few of them almost every step we took. They supposedly feed on small shells, such as button shells and small mussels, and such a high population of sand stars probably implies that we have a very healthy population of small shells at Changi too.

Starfish, Sand star (Astropecten sp.)
This was yet another type of sand star that we often saw at Changi, though it was far less common compared to the previous one.

Biscuit stars (Goniodiscaster scaber)
Several biscuit stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) were lying on the seagrass bed, but certainly not as many in numbers as the last time we were here.

Starfish (Gymnanthenea laevis)
The orange-tipped sea star (Gymnanthenea laevis) is another sea star often spotted at Changi.

Brittle star
Changi also has lots of brittle stars, and most of them only come out at night, feeding on any tiny organic particles on the substrate.

Peacock anemone
The full glory of the peacock anemone (Order Ceriantharia) can only be seen when it's covered with water, as it extends its tentacles to filter feed. When the tide goes down, the tentacles usually retract into the tube.

Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus)
Flower crabs (Portunus pelagicus) are often sold at our local markets, but do you know they are quite common in our waters? Being swimming crabs, they have 2 paddle-shaped legs at its backend, which enable them to swim and burrow quicklly.

Elbow crab
This little fellow is an elbow crab (Family Parthenopidae). Being coated with a layer of mud, it can be very hard to spot if you don't look careful enough.

Orange striped hermit crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus)
The orange striped hermit crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus), like other hermit crabs, has a soft abdomen which it needs to hide in a shell for protection. This one managed to find itself the empty shell of a noble volute.

Well, while we did not get to see as many species of sea stars compared to our previous few trips, it was nonetheless still a very "starry" trip. I will probably visit it again when the school holidays are over and it is less crowded.

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