Discover the rich marine life in the intertidal areas of Singapore, the coastal zone between the highest and lowest tidemarks. Due to Singapore’s semi-diurnal tides, plants and animals living in Singapore’s intertidal areas are exposed to the air twice a day. And the frequent immersion and emersion make intertidal areas one of the most stressful environments to live in. Habitats found in the intertidal zone include rocky shores, sandy beaches and seagrass meadows. Each habitat has its unique characteristics and is home to different kinds of animals.
Rocky shores consist of solid rocks and boulders. The Labrador rocky shore is the last remaining natural rocky shore on mainland Singapore. This 300 m stretch of rocky shore and the surrounding Labrador Park was designated as a Nature Reserve in 2002. Animals are found both on and under the rocks. The Pacific turban snail (Turbo bruneus) is commonly found attached to rocks while bristleworms and reef worms can be seen burrowing in the sand or under rocks.
The sandy beaches in Singapore are not devoid of life. You can find burrowing animals such as sand bubbler crabs and ghost crabs as well as other wildlife including sea stars, sand dollars and button snails on the beaches of Singapore. These crabs sift through the sand and feed on organic particles.
Seagrasses are flowering plants that play important roles in the marine environment. Apart from being a source of food for herbivores, seagrass meadows are nurseries for juvenile animals such as crabs, shrimps and fishes. The structural complexity of seagrasses makes seagrass meadows areas of rich marine biodiversity. There are a total of 12 species of seagrasses in Singapore, and their habitats can be found both on the northern and southern shores of the island. Animals associated with seagrass habitats include sea stars, sea horses, crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and snails. TeamSeagrass, a group of volunteers, conducts frequent seagrass monitoring at six different locations – Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau, Cyrene Reef, Sentosa, Labrador Beach and Tuas. The information collected is shared with Seagrass-Watch, an international monitoring programme for seagrasses.
Seagrass meadow of Cyrene Reef exposed during low tide.
Carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) at Merawang Beacon.
An intertidal area is a fragile habitat. Visitors to intertidal zones are reminded to observe etiquette, which includes the following:
- Refrain from touching or trampling on any wildlife so that they thrive in their natural habitats.
- Refrain from collecting wildlife as each animal has its own ecological function and contributes to the health of the intertidal habitats. They are also unlikely to survive for long when taken out of their natural habitat.
- People who are unfamiliar with marine animals may endanger their own safety as they cannot recognise stinging or venomous marine wildlife.
- Wear covered shoes as there may be sharp rocks or creatures with spines in the intertidal zones.
Where necessary, NParks will manage access to selected beaches during peak periods to avoid overcrowding. Entry to the beaches will be allowed only through designated access points manned by NParks staff and volunteers. There will also be roving NParks staff and volunteers to educate the public on intertidal biodiversity, etiquette and remind them not to remove marine life indiscriminately.
Download our Secret Shores guide for more information.