Sunday, January 27, 2013

Checking out marine life of Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass

Today is my first trip with other members of TeamSeagrass and we are doing monitoring at Chek Jawa.  I helped to guide two new teamseagrass members with the monitoring session.

It was a hot day but thank goodness, the wind helped to ease the heat a bit. After the monitoring, we all had some time to check out the shore of Chek Jawa.

Upon arrival at Chek Jawa, we were greeted with the sight of mama pig and her piglet feeding on food she pushed off from the bicycle basket. The wild boars are able to smell food kept high above ground, like a bicycle basket, and they are smart enough to knock off the bicycle in order to get the food. From the image below, this pair of wild boar even tore the packaging of the can drinks.
Wild boars helping themselves to human food by knocking them off bicycle baskets.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Giant octopus on a busy Changi shore

On this short window of low tides for January, I made my last trip for the month yesterday to a shore at Changi. This shore is packed with human activities, from visitors to the coastal boardwalk, fishermen netting in the shallow waters to ordinary visitors digging the substrate for clams. Despite the heavy rained that happened just minutes ago, there are still many visitors to the shore.

The weather changed very quickly. After the heavy shower, it drizzled for a while before the sun came out.

What makes this shore special is the sea fan sticking out from the shallow murky water during low tide. They come in a variety of colour and sizes.
Bending orange sea fan, probably dur to its weight with low tide.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hidden world of Punggol beach

With the upgrade waterfront area at Punggol beach, it has attracted many families and cyclist to this small stretched. Despite the numerous human activities going on here, the marine life at Punggol beach is as many as the beach visitors. Often, most of them goes unnoticed and unappreciated by humans.

Punggol Beach and Jetty
Even on a not so low tide, a vast patch of rocky area to the right of the jetty is exposed for families to bring their children down to search and explore the place for marine life. 

Very well hidden in tiny pool, if not noticed carefully, are tiny anemones. The colours of the tiny anemones are very close to the sandy substrate it is on. These are probably the banded bead anemones (Anthopleura sp.)
Banded bead anemone
Banded bead anemone
Suspicious jerking snail shells suggest a hermit crab in it and it was noticed to be foraging for food. On the shore of Punggol beach, the banded hermit crab seems to be the dominate ones. Hermit crabs are to look at and may be pretty for children to keep them as pets. However wild animals dies quickly in captivity. It is good enough to observe these cute animals in the wild and leave them where they belong to.
Foraging banded hermit crab
Frontal view of the hermit crab.
Spreading all over the rocky areas and the jetty pillars, the bunches of glassy looking strands are actually the glassy branching bryozoans. Unfortunatly, I am not able to provide an exact common name for the orange sponge.
Glassy branching bryozoans with orange sponge and delicate feathery green seaweed
Orange sponge, some covered by bryozoans.
During last year's comprehensive marine biodiversity survey, a sea slug was found on these bryozoans. On this trip, many of the sea slug was seen. The Okenia pellucida is the species of sea slug found on the bryozoan.
Okenia pellucida, on bryozoan
Very well hidden are the brittle stars, which are hardly seen in the day as they are very shy animals.
Brittle star
Crawling around on the encrusted rocks are tiny crabs of various species, some of which scurry into hiding when sensing motion nearby. Of the crabs I managed to observe was this. I didn't manage to get a clear shot of the dorsal view
Underside of the crab
Other crabs seen on this trip:
Moon crab
The team also found another type of sea slug - Beaded nudibranch (Hoplodoris nodulosa).
Beaded nudibranch (Hoplodoris nodulosa)
Feathery gills
I also saw two types of bristle worms on the shore, one of which could be a fireworm. Bristleworms are difficult to identify to species level without a close look at the head.
At the edge of the rocky patch on the shore, I noticed a patch of seagrass. However the tides was not low enough for me to take a closer look at them. Towards the end of the trip, I found a stand of broken seagrass caught on a washed up branch. It looks similar to a spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), but it has longer leaf blades. Could it be the hairy spoon seagrass (Halophila decipiens)?
Patch of seagrass
The seagrass I found caught on a branch.
During the trip, I saw a young boy walking towards the water and later he was seen to be pulling the ropes attached to the fish trap. It turn out, there were actually two fish traps placed. Shortly after, he was joined by an adult, who seems to be his father. They checked the fish traps, probably removing the catch, threw the traps back into the water and left.
Boy pulling the rope.
Examining the fish trap.
The marine life at Punggol beach is what I would consider, a hidden world, with all the human activities going on. Life during the day may be less exciting as compared to night, but it is still as interesting.

Posts by others on this trip:
Kok Sheng - Colourful sponge garden at Punggol
Ria Tan - Colourful Punggol rocky shore

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Very rainy seagrass monitoring at Labrador

It was my second trip to Labrador Beach and I encountered the exact same weather as my first trip:
Heavy rain
The purpose of the trip was to help monitor seagrass at Labrador beach. Unfortunately, the clouds moving down from southwest over the southern islands decided so spread across Labrador area. Shortly after we made our way down to the beach, it started to pour. It was after a 45 minute wait, the sky cleared up to a light drizzle.

While waiting under the closed jetty, I decided to try out my newly acquired swimming camera.
Under the jetty pathway, next to the forest edge, there were litters big and small everywhere. Although the beach and jetty at Labrador is closed to public, people were still able to find a way down to the beach.
Plastic chair left behind recently.
I tried the macro and super macro modes on my camera on a spotted top shell snail.
Macro mode of the underside
Testing the capabilities of Super Macro mode.
I started my seagrass monitoring at Site 3, furthest from the from our entrance point, while Ria did Site 1 and 2. Even during our monitoring time, the sky rained again for a short while before a sudden stop.
After rain view of the shore and the refineries in the distant.
After completing my monitoring, Ria showed me the male flowers of the Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) which are released from bracts. The male flowers looked like tiny floating styrofoam bits, with one end being hydrophobic.
Inside of a bract, with male flowers.
The bract among the Tape seagrass.
2 male flowers, which will be transported around by the incoming tide.
By the time we completed the monitoring, we were left with little time to check out the Tape seagrass flowers before the in-coming tide.

It was a very wet monitoring day for Ria and I at Labrador.

So far I am quite satisfied with my new swimming camera, except for its auto white balance. It is not able to produce a similar colour tone for images at the same environment. A slight change in angle changes the colour production of the image. Overall, images come with a more reddish tone.

Read about the monitoring session from TeamSeagrass' blog: Labrador (11 Jan 2013)


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