Friday, January 8, 2010

Tanah Merah Beach, 4 Jan 2010

My second time at Tanah Merah beach, this time with the company of Kok Sheng, James and Ron. This was a truly eventful trip because I actually experienced a sting myself! Though the culprit remains unidentified. Luckily for me, it wasn't a Stonefish sting as that would no doubt have landed me in hospital.

NOTE: Tanah Merah beach is pretty dangerous as stonefish is pretty commonly found at the rocky parts of the beach. If you were to make a trip down, do make sure you have company with you. It is also good that you prepare a small bag of first aid kit as well.

We actually spent close to 4 hours walking around this time! And we saw much indeed.

When we first set foot on the sandy shore, I saw the balls of sand left behind by (most likely) the Soldier crabs (Dotilla sp.). This didn't seem to be made by the Sand bubbler crabs as the heaps were untidier and the balls of sand slightly larger.

Then I found this Chameleon nerite snail couple mating on a boulder of rock close by.

Exploring the rocky stretch, I sighted these Green gum drops ascidians amongst the shade of rock crevices. They were pretty common.

Then I saw a huge abandoned fishing net probably left by fishermen. We actually saw some of them going about their work as dusk fell.

I actually found a couple of pretty shelled animals on this trip. First there was this Black-lipped conch shell. There was actually a small hermit crab living inside. Isn't this pretty! Shells should be left where they belong as they actually serve as homes and hiding places for animals such as the hermit crab, and upon erosion by sea waves, they actually become sand.

Later on, James found this beautiful Pink moon snail.

The most exciting find of the day must be this Spider conch (Lambis lambis)! It was my first time finding one, and I actually thought it was empty (as the top of the shell was mouldy) until James told me to flip it over. Boy, was it extremely pretty! The picture in the middle shows the elongated eyes. :D

Earlier in the day, I saw some Hermit crabs exhibiting an intriguing behaviour. The 4 of them seemed unwilling to let go of each other! I wonder what they were up to. According to James, he ever saw the same phenomenon before and took a shot of that sighting then.

I also found BOTH the female and male Five-spot anemone shrimps on a Haddon's carpet anemone. This was also a first time for me, though I have seen a pair before as well, found by Marcus on another shore trip. The female is the bigger-sized, more conspicuous one, while the male is the smaller, less conspicuous (more transparent) one.

I sighted only one Garlic bread sea cucumber (or commercially called the Sandfish) throughout the trip. However these are actually pretty common on our shores.

I also saw 2 species of flatworms for the first time. James found this Orange-edged black flatworm.

Some individuals of the Starry flatworm were also sighted.

There was a wide sandy patch where the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) were abundant.

Six- and four-armed ones weren't uncommon. They were mostly feeding with green-coloured everted stomachs.

There were many couples around. These couples could actually stick together for months before one day when they finally mate! Their reproductive organs do not actually meet. The male will release sperm when the female releases her eggs.

Towards the end of the trip, Kok Sheng spotted this three-armed one! It was definitely my first time seeing one like this.

There was this region on the sandy shore, where there were lots of these bumps on the sand. I wonder what creatures created them and how!

Whilst shining my torch on the rock crevices randomly I spotted this Velcro crab! This was also my first sighting of this amusing creature, which bear hooked hairs on its body and legs and hence causes bits of sponges, seaweed, shells or other debris etc to stick to it. Other than helping the crab to camouflage, the distasteful nature of some sponges serves to turn predators off as well. Interestingly, the attached sponges and/or algae often continue to grow and this serves as shelter and homes for tiny animals!

Then I saw this crab (for the first time as well) which I can't identify :( I love its green colour!

Another critter that I saw was the Horn-eyed ghost crab! They were very common. Some were stationary while some ran and/or dug into the sand when I shone my torch at them. The way they run is really cute!! Probably because their legs (appendages) are really long.

James spotted this dark maroon coloured Haeckel's anemone which looked really majestic! It was HUGE. This was another one of my first-times!

Moments later, I realised there was a Flower crab underneath this anemone! It appeared to be resting.

This looks like a Banded peacock anemone. Isn't it beautiful? James and I didn't notice the beautiful colorations on it initially.

Could this be a Banded peacock anemone as well? I have no idea. :(

Perhaps cos I avoided the rocky areas, I hardly saw fan worms. This was the only pair I saw.

James also spotted a few Seagrass filefishes and a Copperband butterflyfish. This was also one of my first-times. :D

Then we saw this Flathead which was also a first for me!

Some fishermen passed us by and James asked how their catch was. They were really friendly and showed us some of their catch which include huge fishes. There was also this huge sea cucumber which is a really rare find. The fishermen were really nice as to place this on a boulder for us to take photos. Sadly, this was going to end up on somebody's plate. It was likely a Stichopus sp.

I also saw this Acorn worm on the sandy stretch. What you see here, to put it crudely, is the "backside" of this worm. The coiled sand is its "cast".

James also spotted this Brown-spotted moray eel. And this was yet ANOTHER first for me as well. :D

Towards the end of the trip, Kok Sheng and Ron showed us these 2 individuals of the Soft coral false cowrie. They must be one of the highlights of the trip for me! Unfortunately I couldn't get great shots of it. You can check out James' blogpost on them for better res photos!

Whilst walking back to land, Kok Sheng spotted this live Scallop.

Despite the fact that I had a frightening sting at the start of this trip, it was overall a very fulfilling trip as I saw so, so much. It was also great that I had the company of Kok Sheng, James and Ron, who were all really helpful in identifying what I saw. Overall this was an awesome trip. :D


  1. Hey that 3 legged starfish was interesting and the copperband butterflyfish was beautiful too!
    Sorry to hear you got stung but it looks like you had a great trip anyway! Glad to see you're getting out there and enjoying your encounters with nature and thank you for sharing with us!

  2. Hi Russell, yes I had a truly fruitful trip! No mention, sharing what I see with the rest of the world is what I really enjoy :) The spot where I got stung is healing very well as well!

  3. I was here:) haha! Can u bring me to tanah merah beach next time? I wonder where the heck is it. Singapore ain't that big after all.

  4. Hey we are planning a trip down to tenah merah beach. We are keen to know at what timing should we head down to check out when sea stars are abundant? Thanx!

  5. Hi Yiru! Apologies for the late reply. To see the sea stars you will have to go during very low tide. For Tanah Merah a low tide of 0.3m and below should be fine. To check the dates and timings for low tide you may refer to NEA's tide table website at :) Hope this helps!

  6. Hi, I would just like to ask, where was the rough location you saw all these beautiful creatures? I went there but saw only sea stars... Was it very far past the canal?

  7. Hi Clare, it is tough for me to explain the location, so I will check if I can get the exact location and let you know again!

  8. Hey we are planning a cruise bottomward to tenah merah beach. We are agog to apperceive at what timing should we arch bottomward to analysis out back sea stars are abundant? Thanx! miami beach condos

  9. Dear Raj,

    Do you mean you are going down by cruise? You will need to check with the tide timings at the NEA website ( A low tide of 0.5m and below should be good to see the sea stars at Tanah Merah. Do make sure you pack and are well geared up for safety too!

    Cheers Avril