Fancy Intertidal Walks

Date September 7, 2011

The fancy and expensive real estate on Sentosa Island hasn’t deterred these critters from setting up home along its shores! Last Saturday night I left my dive gear dry again as I set out on foot and a shirt (as opposed to a wetsuit) so explore the life that exists along the edge of Singapore.

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The first thing that stuck me is how unusually easy it is to photograph these usually fast and skittish gobies. I even found this one (above right) half buried into the sand with its head sticking out! Doesn’t look like its getting up to go anywhere soon.
The snapping shrimps that are usually found with these gobies were also spotted out of the burrows and walking about.
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There were also some anemones. I found this Wiggly reef star anemone (above left), it was really super tiny and easily would’ve been missed. You don’t usually see this anemone while diving along the reefs.
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There were also beaded anemones (above left) that I often confuse with zoanthids (above right).
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There were also plenty of crabs stuck into or creeping upon the rocks and shore. Apart from the swimmer crab (bottom right) the other crabs like the spotted-belly foceps crab (bottom left) and red-eyed reef crab (above right) are not often seen while diving. I’m not sure what kind of the crab the little one (above left) is.
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Some interesting observations were of this purple climber crab eating what seems to be a shore spider (above left). By the time I found it, there was only half a shore spider left, the crab was eating the spiders abdomen first and in the photo only the head and top four legs were left. That’s interesting. Later, I found another pair of purple climber crabs mating. I thought it was funny how the male was covering the females eyes when I took this picture, as if saying, “Honey! We’re being photographed! Don’t look!”
I also found this Asian Toad Bufo melanostictus looking very misplaced on the shore. Although it’s very common, this is still an unlikely place for a toad. Ria Tan reckons it was probably climbing along the roots or branches of the trees upon the cliff and tumbled onto the shore by accident. It was still alive when I found it and I hope that it managed to clamber back up to safety before the tide came back in.
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Chay Hoon also found some nudibranches like this Polka-dot nudibranch (above left) and this incredible looking Sea grapes nudibranch which she found on the sea grapes, a kind of algae that looks exactly like this nudibranch!
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There were also some nice hard and soft corals growing along the shore. Towards the end of the walk we also saw lots of sponges and sea grass.
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These fish are not dead, they are sleeping! I know they look dead, and it was really interesting how they did not flinch at all while I took these pictures. They did move their eyes so I knew they were alive! On the left is a tiny False scorpionfish, I’m not sure what the one on the right is, it’s got a transparent tail fin, so it looks like it doesn’t have a tail in this picture.
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I also found two octopi hunting on the reef. The first one was more active than the second, and I stuck with it for awhile to watch it pull shrimp out of little cracks. It has a really interesting hunting strategy where it blocks the exist by spreading its mantle and “blowing” itself up (above left), then it would wriggle one of its tentacles into a crevice to scare the prey out and into its waiting jaws.
The star of the night would have to be this crab found my Marcus Ng. Ria thinks its a Ocypode cordimanus, which she said she’s not seen before and she was very excited by the find. I felt lucky since I don’t go to the shore often but managed to meet eyes with this rare and beautiful crab.

Ria also posted about this trip on her Wild Shore Blog, and Jocelyn did a little write up too.

To view the complete set of pictures from this trip, visit the Hantu Blog Gallery.

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