Monday, August 29, 2011

Tanah Merah on 29 Aug 2011

This morning, I visited Tanah Merah with Kok Sheng and Alyce. It's been a really long time since I last visited this shore - in fact the last time I visited here was more than a year ago after the old spill.

Tanah Merah was always a great place to spot fishes, and today's special fish was this juvenile angelfish, which I think should be a Bluering Angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis). We saw a mature one as well in the same area, but it was hiding among the rock crevices and simply impossible to get a shot of! The last time I saw this fish was at Chek Jawa, and it was a huge adult! Interestingly, the juveniles and adults look very different, and even more interestingly, the juveniles of several angelfish species actually appear somewhat similar, but they can usually be differentiated by the patterns on the body.

Kok Sheng had said that a trip to Tanah Merah is never complete seeing a Hollow-cheeked Stonefish (Synanceia horrida). I couldn't help but agreed, as I had seen at least one on almost every trip here! This very venomous fish was very well-camouflaged, and any unlucky ones who stepped on its venomous spines on its back by accident could end up in the hospital for many days!

Another commonly seen fish would be the Brown-spotted Moray (Gymnothorax reevesii), and this one was quietly stalking a smaller Cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus sp.).

I spotted this Yelloweye Pufferfish (Arothron immaculatus) in shallow water.

Kok Sheng found this juvenile Batfish (probably Platax sp.).

Several of this Hairy Filefish (Chaetodermis penicilligerus) were also spotted.

This looks like a juvenile Longfin Grouper (Epinephelus quoyanus) to me. It's yet another of the commonly seen fish here.

Have seen this halfbeak many times, but still don't know the exact species.

Apart from the stonefish, the Scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta) is another master of camouflage.

The juvenile Yellow-banded Damsel (Dischistodus fasciatus) looked really cute as it darted around in the water.

As we were wading in the water, I noticed thousands of these little jelly-like animals in the water. They were Comb Jellies (Phylum Ctenophora). Appeared like there's a population bloom here! Correction: Took a closer look at the photos, and think they could be salp (a kind of pelagic tunicate) instead.

They were so tiny (about 1cm long) and transparent, that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get good photos of them.

We also found this sea anemone-like animal, which was possibly a corallimorph.

Saron shrimps (Saron sp.) were rather common here among the rocks, but could be rather hard to take photos of sometimes as they were usually rather shy.

There were lots of other shrimps here, which I had no idea of the species.

Here's more of them.

I also saw several Red Shrimps (Processa sp.), and one of them actually burrowed into the sand on seeing us.

Penaeid prawns (Family Penaeidae) were rather abundant, but they were very fast moving and burrowed quickly into the sand as well.

We found a few White-spotted Reef Hermit Crabs (Dardanus megistos). Somehow we could always see them at Tanah Merah as well.

The Red Stone Crab (Menippe rumphii) was somehow not as commonly seen as its relative, the thunder crab, in Singapore.

Purple Climber Crabs (Metopograpsus sp.) were among the most common crabs here.

This Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma) was surprisingly friendly and stayed in the same position for quite a while as I took photos of it.

In the shallow water, there were many Spotted Moon Crabs (Ashtoret lunaris), but once again, I had a hard time getting good photos of them as they were so fast and burrowed quickly too.

This Elbow Crab (Family Parthenopidae) was extremely well-camouflaged, and I almost did not missed it even though it was near me.

The Velcro Crab (Camposcia retusa) actively camouflaged itself but attaching sponges and ascidians on its exoskeleton, but unfortunately it will at the wrong place, and hence was rather easily spotted.

There was a patch with many Sand-sifting Sea Stars (Archaster typicus). The population was definitely no where near to that before the oil spill though, when one could easily see thousands of them.

Kok Sheng found this little Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra) - the only sea cucumber we saw today.

This little squid, looks like a juvenile Bigfin Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) to me, kept blocking the things that I wanted to photograph, and inevitably I had a few shots of it as well.

While searching for the Saron Shrimp, I found this Arabian Cowrie (Cypraea arabica) under a rock.

Yet another cowrie I found was this Miliaris Cowrie (Cypraea miliaris). With its mantle fully extended, it appeared just like a slug, but it's in fact a snail!

Talking about slugs, we saw 2 species today - the above looks like an Atagema intecta to me. Part of its mantle appeared to be missing though. Not sure if it had been attacked by some predators before this.

There was also a pair of Bohol's Nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis), which looks like they were mating.

This animal looks somewhat like the Bohol's Nudibranch, but is actually a Flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.).

While the diversity and abundance were certainly not as high as last time before the oil spill, it was still very heartening to see that this shore appeared to be recovering well!

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