Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fishy Tanah Merah


Update: Check out Ria's posts: Pack of Wild Squid and Another fishy day at Tanah Merah.

This shore at Tanah Merah proved to be a really good place to spot a wide variety of fishes.

Just like on any other shore, gobies (F. Gobiidae) can be found literally everywhere. While they can be very skittish, they will often simply freeze in place, relying on their camouflage to hide in plain sight. With some patience and luck, it is possible to creep up on them and take a few photos.

There are several species of goby that can be found on sandy and rocky shores like this one. While gobies can be difficult to conclusively identify in the field, A Guide to Gobies of Singapore can be very useful in providing tentative identifications.

Ornate lagoon goby (Istigobius ornatus);

Common frill-fin goby (Bathgobius fuscus);

Shadow goby (Acentrogobius nebulosus);

Indo-Pacific tropical sand goby (Favonigobius reichei);

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Halfbeaks (F. Hemirhamphidae) swim around just beneath the surface. I saw a couple of species, the twig-like halfbeak and broad-nose halfbeak.

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My belief in the similarity between this shore and the islets off Siloso Beach was reinforced by the discovery of 2 filefish (F. Monacanthidae) species I'd found on my previous trip to Siloso Beach, the seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus) (left) and the feathery filefish (Chaetodermis penicilligerus) (right).

This is the first time I've ever seen a live longtail tripodfish (Tripodichthys blochii).

The Bengal sergeant (Abudefduf bengalensis) is very active. As a result, it's very difficult to get a decent photograph of this damselfish. On a couple of occasions, I saw a much larger damselfish hiding amongst the rocks, but it proved to be very camera-shy. I'm not sure of its identity; based on what I glimpsed of its dark, almost blackish coloration, it might be the three-spot damselfish (Pomacentrus tripunctatus).

This is some sort of sand whiting (F. Sillaginidae), possibly Sillago aeolus.

I have no idea what fish this is. If I had to hazard a guess, this might be a juvenile slender mojarra (Gerres oyena).

Another unknown fish. It looks a lot like what Ria calls the spotted glass perchlet.

Other fish that were seen but not photographed included Kops' glass perchlets (Ambassis kopsii) and a tiny trumpeter perch (Pelates quadrilineatus).

Ria saw a lot of other very interesting fish here on this shore! It's even more amazing when one realises that not too long ago, this stretch of shore was seemingly barren and lifeless, as it was created out of reclaimed land. It's great to see that so many species of fish have colonised the sandy and rocky areas, and it certainly makes me wonder what else might be lurking out there, on the other side of the seawall.

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on a trip to Tanah Merah on 6th June, 2009.

Part 1: Exploring Tanah Merah
Part 2: Fishy Tanah Merah (this post)