Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Intertidal Life at Punggol Beach

I am back at Punggol Beach again but this time at 4am in the morning. Why? Because this week around this timing has one of the lowest tide of the year and it will be a waste to sleep it off. Also because this is the only coast that I can cycle to from home, thus saving any taxi fares required.

I was pretty concerned that I will be questioned by the police and coast guard since I'm out here alone and probably looked suspicious since Johor (below) is only a few kilometres from the beach. Luckily there were already a few anglers fishing by the jetty hence the policemen probably thought I was one too.

Another cause of concern was that this location was the place where the Japanese slaughtered thousands of Chinese during WWII. Somemore our SPI seemed to have unearthed something out of the ordinary at this place. But then again, heavy lighting from Johor saved me from such thoughts.

I don't think anyone has ever blogged about this place before yet. Probably because the coast angles quite a bit and it only exposed several more metres even at such a low tide today. However, apparently, I can't be more wrong when I said that this place was pretty barren in my previous post. In fact, it was teeming with life!

To say that the following animals are common here is probably an understatement. There were possibly thousands of black Temnopleurus urchins crawling on the rocks! I can probably count twenty or more of these every few step that I took. It was exciting to see them at first but eventually, turned out to be a drag since it was so hard to avoid stepping on them.

This was also my first time seeing so many Thunder Crabs (Myomenippe hardwickii). There were probably 3 to 5 crabs every few steps that I took.

Hanging down from the boulders were lots of these red anemones. I tried looking at other blogs to find the ID but can't. Anyone?

This is probably also the only place that I can see so many Rock Stars (Asterina coronata). I can easily find one in a few steps. They are variable in their colouration; ranging from orange to brown in the photo collate above.

Not as much as the thunder crab, but these swimming crabs (Portunidae) were present in quite a number too. They were so named due to the last two pairs of legs being paddle shaped helping them to swim easily.

What are some of the other animals that can be found on this shore?

Here is a Cowrie (Cypraea sp.). I can't tell the species since its mantle was already covering over its body, a characteristic of this group of shells.

A nice discovery was the Onyx Cowrie (Cypraea onyx). There were in fact three of them on the same rock as the other cowrie.

This is another swimming crab, commonly known as our edible flower crab (Portunus pelagicus). This was the only one that I saw and unfortunately, it had lost one of its pincers. Hopefully it survive long enough to regenerate it till it's next moult.

I was rather surprised to find two large Carpet Anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in this rocky and murky environment. Perhaps it depended more on heterotrophy than getting food from it's symbiotic algae living inside them?

There were also several branches of sea whips (Order: Gorgonacea). Pity there were no sight of any of it's cousins, the corals though that is expected considering the environment.

This 20cm fish which looked like a big goby was also rather common here.

The Spiral Melongena (Pugilina cochlidium) are carnivores that prey on barnacles by forcing their probocis through the barnacles' valves.

I found these encrusting snails (Vermetus sp.) pretty interesting. Looking very much like worms, I only realised their identity when I saw their operculum.

Some even encrusted over each other creating a nice artistic sculpture .

Did not see as many purple climbers (Metopograpsus sp.) as I did in the day but managed to capture a nice picture of it.

Brittle Stars (Class: Ophiuroidea) seemed to be more common on the right side of the beach which was less rocky and covered with algae.

Punggol Beach turned out to be more exciting than I expected it to be. And one thing which I was happy about was that these animals will probably stay where it is for a long time since it is only exposed during super low tides.

As I cycled back home, there were also a few joggers and elderly exercising there and it was really nice and therapeutic to see the morning mist over the grassland. Hopefully this place will stay the way it is for years to come.


ria said...

WOW! That sure looks like an interesting shore. Thanks for checking it out and sharing all these fascinating encounters!

Siyang said...

Thanks Ria, another place to visit during low tide!

Sean Lim said...

Nice set of pictures Siyang and great blog! Especially like the last pic showing the mist among the sunrise! Nice roundup of a good night of exploration!

Anonymous said...

Hi, was really impressed by your photos. I went to punggol beach at 5am, when it was low tide today, hoping to see the biodiversity tt u have seen due to a project of a module in nus. But was pretty disppointed coz I didn't managed to see much and neither did I get to see the sunrise as well:( Any advice on how did you manage to capture all these? Email me at arella87@gmail.com
Thanks alot!

Matthew said...

Hi, would like to know roughly how low the tides must be before you can see such creatures! I'm part of a group from Raffles Institution (Junior College) that's organising guided walks for students in our school. Thanks!

Siyang said...

Hi Matthew, it depends on which shore you are guiding at.

Punggol requires very low tides. At least -0.2m which occurs only a few times a year in the mid year. You will need an MPA tide-table to accurately know the tides at each locality.

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