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!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Exploring Seletar Mangrove on 9 Aug 2011

Today is Singapore's National Day, and I decided to celebrate by going to a mangrove that I had never been to.

Looking at the photo above, many people might think that it's taken on Pulau Ubin. I was rather surprised to see this on mainland Singapore as well. I had always wanted to visit the mangrove forest at Seletar, but I didn't really expect to see stilt houses there! Reminded me of the good old days when my grandma was still living in Punggol!

There was some kind of a bridge leading from mainland to the stilt houses in the middle of the mangrove forest, and I decided to try it out.

It certainly didn't look too sturdy, but looks could be deceiving - I saw an old (and fat) uncle carry a huge box of fish walking on it. So guess it shouldn't have problem taking my weight.

And I was certainly glad that I visited this little kampong!

Finally, I found a fruiting Ipil (Intsia bijuga) with fruits low enough for me to take nice photos with my camera! This plant is critically endangered in Singapore.

And here are more fruits! I have seen the Ipil in various places, such as Mandai, Sungei Buloh, Pulau Ubin, Admiralty, Singapore Botanic Gardens etc, but this was the first time the fruits were nice and low! The one at Mandai didn't really count, as the fruit was somewhat deformed with a hole...

There were several Kalak Kambing (Finlaysonia obovata), also critically endangered in Singapore, and I saw this pair of fruits rather high up - it's a climber after all.

And there were 2 Nyireh Batu (Xylocarpus moluccensis) trees right next to each other. This plant is also critically endangered in Singapore.

Closely related to the Nyireh Batu but more common was the Nyireh Bunga (Xylocarpus granatum), and it was fruiting! Both species were called Mangrove Cannonball Trees, and it's not hard to see why from the shape of the fruits!

The other usual suspects of our mangrove forest could also be found here, such as the 3 more common Api-api species (Avicennia spp.). The above is Avicennia alba, with its sharply pointed fruits.

And this is Avicennia rumphiana, with its somewhat crumpled-looking fruits. I also saw many Avicennia officinalis, but unfortunately there were hardly any fruits, and the few photos I took didn't turn out well.

Two Bruguiera species could be found here, including the very common Bakau Putih (Bruguiera cylindrica).

The Tumu (Bruguiera gymnorhiza) was another common Bruguiera species found in most of our mangrove forests, and hence I wasn't surprise to find it here too.

The Bakau Minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) is another common mangrove plant. It has many long seedlings hanging from the branches. The seeds germinated while the fruits were still attached to the tree, and hence the long and green stuff were actually seedlings.

This Bakau Kurap (Rhizophora mucronata) seedling had a really strange shape. I wondered what happened to it...

Nearer to the back mangrove, I saw several patches of Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans). There were a few Blind-your-eyes (Excoecaria agallocha) too.

I saw a Portia Tree (Thespesia populnea) too, and many Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum).

I didn't really spend much time looking for animals, but still managed to spot a few along the way. The above looks like a Straited Heron (Butorides striata).

There were many Orange Signaller Crabs (Metaplax elegans) on the mudflat.

And many different types of mudskippers too, including the Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti) above, which feeds on algae on the mud surface.

While taking photos of the Ipil, I also saw this Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) on a nearby branch.

I was already rather tired after exploring for about 3 hours under the hot sun, but still decided to check out another patch of mangrove forest on the other side of the old Sungei Seletar. Since I was alone and this area looked a lot more deserted, I only explored a small area nearest to Lower Seletar Reservoir. And even during this short 20 min walk, I found this Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata). Guess I should go back again another day to check it out more thoroughly :)