Saturday, January 10, 2009

First 2009 Team Seagrass trip at Chek Jawa

It's 2009 and our very first Team Seagrass monitoring trip is to our favourite Chek Jawa.

It feels so good to be back at Chek Jawa!

Today we had a good slow walk to the further Site 2 and I did my monitoring with Mei Lin. It was her first time and I must say she learns very fast! Soon, we completed the transect.

Siti and Shufen showed us a special seagrass find, this is the male flower of the spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) which is rarely sighted.

Near patches of spoon seagrasses, we saw this pair of eyes popping out from the sand. Please don't be freaked out! Haha.

It belongs to a Commerson's sole (Synaptura commersoniana) that burrowed into the sand.

What is special about this particular solefish is that its tail has pinkish fringe. Very pretty!!

Marcus found this weird looking sea cucumber that we have never seen before. It has blue, white and pinkish tinge.

Unfortunately, it refuses to show us its feeding tentacles.

Judging from the number of weird and unknown sea cucumbers we find in Singapore, it is possible that we have really many species of sea cucumbers in our waters. Isn't this wonderful?

Of course, I always wish that our trips are star studded! And this one is no exception!

Though it wasn't dark, we could still see brittle stars.

There are also sand stars roaming around.

What was heartening is to see many of these common sea stars that we thought they were all wiped out after the mass death in 2007 until eleven months later.

And here comes the climax of the day for me~!

While I was looking around the common sea stars area, I saw this pinkish tinge on the sand belonging to a sea star that is almost fully burrowed. I wondered why this common sea star is pink in colour!

And when I took a closer took, I was so surprised to finally find the six armed sea star (Luidia penangensis) that the gang found before twice at Changi. I've never seen this species before and I am so happy to find it at Chek Jawa!

This six armed sea star has similar burrowing and feeding habits to the eight armed sea star (Luidia maculata).

All Luidia species have a tessellated arrangement of raised structures, known as paxillae, on their dermal plates that gives them an armoured, almost reptilian texture according to Dr Lane's "A Guide to Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of Singapore" book. Can you see the near-transparent starry or spiny structures from each circular ossicle that has a black fringe?

The underside of this rare sea star is even more stunning with its bright orange tube feet.

They have extended and pointed tube feet which is an adaptation for burrowing.

Like the eight-armed sea star, this six-armed sea star also has a club-like pointed tube feet.

Of course the wonders of Chek Jawa does not end here...there are even more wonderful creatures.

Like this mud crab that is probably the largest crab I've ever seen on our shores. It is about 40cm wide from this position! And it shows to be rather aggressive when we tried to take a look.

Though named as a horseshoe crab, this is not related to crabs but more to spiders.

There are also noble volute snails with its laid egg cases that are almost transparent in colour.

The guides of the Nparks guided walk found this really quite and small pygmy squid (Idiosepius sp.). Interestingly, it has a special glue gland on the upper body to glue itself to the underside of seagrasses and seaweeds. Wow.

Today the shore was lively with Team Seagrasses, visitors from guided walk and even this dog came down to join us. The dog was so relaxed that it took a nap, awww how sweet (it is not dead ok!). Sijie got nicer shots of the dog awoke but still sitting on the sandbar.

More about a good 2009 start for Chek Jawa at the Chek Jawa Project blog.


Ivan said...

Wow great finds! Especially the Luidia and the mud crab.

Is that Max lying down on the sandbar? Haha...

Unknown said...

hi ks, this is WQ. Decided to drop a message after nearly half a year of lurking abt the dark corners in this blog. :P. Just checked out the latest entry, love the the beady eyes of the sole...really adorable and the fluorescence-like hue of the sea cucumber - absolutely gorgeous!

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