Exploring Tanah Merah Beach
Friday, 22nd April, 2011 ~ In the wee hours of the morning just before sunrise, I was at a dark & deserted beach. 6 am, the tide was ebbing & will be at the lowest in about an hour time. It was my first guided tour into exploring marine life at a seashore. My guide is a friend, Ivan, an enthusiastic amateur naturalist.
I was quite apprehensive about having close encounters with sea creatures especially knowing the fact that the seas around South-East Asia is the most deadliest in the world with all those venomous sea snakes, fire worms, stinging jellyfish, mollusks with harpoons loaded with venom, fishes with poisonous spines & many other dangerous organisms. Some of them can kill an adult human in minutes! Sharks are nothing in comparison to those little marine creatures. Sharks, you can see or at least, be aware of their present. Normally, you won't accidentally step on a shark or brush against it. Now, many of those little poisonous marine creatures are so well hidden or camouflaged that it's very easy to come in contact with them unknowingly, accidentally when you thought it is safe at a peaceful, beautiful beach. Beneath the sand, under or near the rocks especially around gorgeous coral reefs are those little creatures that make the seas in South-East Asia the most dangerous in the world. Sometimes, even experts were hurt. Personally, I had an unpleasant experience when I was vacationing at Tioman a few years back. Something stung me on my shoulder, causing rashes which itch irritatingly. I don't know what organism it was that stung me, but even with medication, it took more than a week for the rashes to heal & disappeared completely.
And I'm afraid of open water like rivers, lakes or the sea. Not because of the Tioman incident. In fact, the trip to Tioman made me a little less afraid of open water. Dunno the exact reason why, but I have this fear ever since I was a kid. Exploring the sea or the seashore at low tide, I go with caution & safety precautions.
Ivan promised to bring me to a 'tame' seashore for my first meeting with marine creatures. Not exactly the first time I'd walked a seashore at low tide. Done that in Tioman, but at Tanah Merah Beach, it is the first with an expert guide. Well, Ivan is really an expert with more in-depth scientific knowledge when compared to me or my companion. So, there I was, at Tanah Merah Beach, on a cool morning.
Hamster Beach Adventure
The sun raise at about 7 am, bringing much needed light for good photography. I dislike outdoor flash photography. Everything looked flat & washout!
Sunrise @Tanah Merah Beach
By then, the tide had retreated enough to exposed large expanse of sandy sea bottom.
On A Sand Bar
The early morning light made exploring the sandy shore much easier & we were not alone...
Beach Explorers(Ivan & me)
Early Morning Risers
The ebbing tide & the morning light also exposed another sight, a distressing one. Rubbish beach! When will people learn to dispose of their rubbish/waste properly & thoughtfully?!? Those inconsiderate actions are damaging the Earth fragile ecosystem!
Not where they belong!
Not supposed to be there!
Do Not Litter!
Death by Natural Causes?
Fortunately, amidst the trash, there are beauty of life, but it won't be around much longer if human don't learn to protect it.
The Beauty of Life
Weird & Beautiful Marine Creatures
And I wasted no time photographing & videoing them...
Photo With Hamster
An unfortunate incident: At the beach, I picked up a beautiful shell, checked for occupancy, pressed doorbell & nobody's home. I took just this ONE shell home. I soaked the shell in piped water to clean it. The next day, to my dismay, I discovered a hermit crab which had crawled out of the shell & died. I am so sorry, little hermit crab. R.I.P. Didn't intend for this to happen. Don't think I will be picking up shell from beach anymore. *Sad.
Anyway, back to Tanah Merah Beach. After the tide returned, we went back up on higher ground. It was still early & there were lots of birds activities around. Avian photography is still my favorite.
Some of the bird pics were taken on the afternoon of the next day when me & my companion returned to the same area hoping to take more photos of birds. Light condition was bad then, but we got a series of delightful pics of Pacific Swallows feeding their chicks perching on a lamp pole.
On the way back with Ivan from Tanah Merah Beach(on the 1st day), when we alighted near Tanah Merah MRT station, we saw a Black Spitting Cobra slithering up a steep slope. Dangerous, but a rare sight! Upon seeing the cobra, my companion immediately charged up the slope trying to get better pics. Ivan tried to warn him, but I told him not to worry. My guy knows what he was doing. Ivan hesitated a little & followed, with me cautiously behind them. I think the cobra sorts felt us & stop moving. However, it was not alarmed or felt threaten as its hood was not open. We were downwind of it & my guy had kept us at a safe distance(told you my guy knew what he was doing). Initially, I had tried to climb the slope at the other side, but was hastily told not to. It was later explained to me that by doing that, I would be upwind to the cobra. Furthermore, with me on 1 side & the 2 guys on the other, the snake might feel cornered or threatened. When alarmed, a Black Spitting Cobra would rise its hood, start hissing & might spit venom at the eyes of anyone nearby. Then it would be panic time for us & on a steep slope, we might get hurt easily. I got lectured for my stupidity... well, more like noobility! =P
The Deadly Black Spitting Cobra
While we were chasing after the cobra, a group of high school students were watching us from below the slope. When we got down, some of them asked what snake was that & requested to see pics taken of it. My guy told them NOT to do what we had just did. Use extreme caution when you see one. When told of how dangerous a Black Spitting Cobra can be, a girl asked why is there a dangerous snake crawling about in a city? Hiding his amusement, my guy told her that it's wild & native to this land. And it will be dangerous only if you disturbed it.
It is still surprising to me that how many people here have almost no knowledge of the local native flora & fauna. Personally, when out on wildlife photography, I'd encountered people asking me is there so many wild species locally? They were always surprised that there are many wild animals still living among us, in this tiny urbanized city state. A better education system have to be installed to teach people of wildlife subjects in order for people to be able to live in harmony with nature & not to destroy our only home in the whole universe.
In Harmony With Nature
The world we live in is not just about money, branded stuffs, Internet or FaceBook. People have to fully understand Mother Nature to appreciate the part she plays in our world. Open your senses & your mind. You will see her power which had created this beautiful Earth & us. We cannot exist without nature.
In closing, I would like to gratefully thanks Ivan for being a great guide, showing/teaching me a part of nature.