Monday, August 24, 2009

Charming Chek Jawa

Chek Jawa is very charming to me. After working many times on it from 2007 to 2008 for the Chek Jawa mortality and recruitment project, this shore has earned a special place in my heart.

In what way is it special and charming? It is both the ecosystems as well as the spectacular landscapes you get when you are there. Seldom you get places in Singapore where one can escape from sights of civilisation or urbanisation. It's just peaceful to immense myself in the serenity and tranquility of Chek Jawa.

Yesterday I was back at CJ to do a followup on my check of the shore and I caught this special sunrise scene where the sky seems to be divided clearly into half! I did not doctor this photograph to get this effect.

There were three Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) j spotted at the coral rubble, one of which found by Lee Qi. This particular one has another animal on top of the star. Can you spot it?

Yes, there is a tiny hermit crab that somehow managed to find its way on top of the star. On the right is the underside of the star which is pinkish in colour. Cute!

Later, I was pleasantly surprised to find this huge Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera). It is definitely one of the nicest patterned and coloured cake sea star from the assortment of those I've seen before.

The underside is flat, usually with a pattern of bars that form chevrons around the arms, with large bivalved pedicellariae (pincer like structures). On the right is a closeup of its upperside/aboral side which are also covered with tiny pedicellariae.

There was a slightly uprooted Flowery sea pen (Family Veretillidae) found among the coral rubble.

As I was photographing the tiny polyps of the sea pen and processing these photos at home, I suddenly realized that I totally missed out the Semper's armina nudibranch (Armina semperi). Can you see the black and white stripes at the right side photo with blue foot? That's the nudi!

This slug in "pajamas" is often seen on our Northern shores, burrowing in sandy areas near seagrasses where there are sea pens. Too bad I was in a rush to check different animals of CJ thus I didn't really take notice of details on the field.

It is nice to find the Posy anemone that is more abundantly found at Pulau Sekudu, just a stone's throw away from the coral rubble of Chek Jawa.

That day was probably my first time see flatworm at Chek Jawa! This is the Blue-spotted flatworm (Pseudoceros indicus) that is also commonly found at rocky shores of Changi.

As mentioned in my previous post of seagrasses in Chek Jawa, one can only find Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) at the coral rubble. It is a relief to know that they are still there though it is difficult to find them.

I greeted Lee Qi who was doing her transect for crab surveys before I quickly moved towards the seagrass lagoon and the sandbars. Her team and herself were hardworking in doing their field studies. I thought this photo is very nice, especially with the sunrise at the background.

At first sight upon reaching the seagrass lagoon, I was amazed to see thick growths of Smooth ribbon seagrasses (Cymodocea rotundata) reaching up to the sandbar.

Though not as numerous as before the mass flooding event of 2007, there are still many Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) that survived or returned to the sandbar.

And in one of them is a special surprise! A baby Kite butterflyfish (Parachaetodon ocellatus)! It is not the first time we see them at the Haddon's carpet anemone. They don't associate with carpet anemones by touching them like the clownfishes but somehow like to be near these anemones.

If your eyes are sharp, you will probably spot a tiny carpet anemoneshrimp (Periclimenes sp.) among the anemone tentacles as well.

There are of course other carpet anemones that seem to be perpetually small. They are actually of a different species: Mini carpet anemone (Stichodactyla tapetum).

The tentacles in the centre of this particular species are neatly arranged and resemble the spokes of a wheel. The outer edge of the oral disk does not have a fringe of alternating long-short tentacles like Haddon's carpet anemone.

At many spots of the sandbar and seagrass lagoon, it is easy to find many of the Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra)!

And once in a while, the smooth sea cucumber can also be found either out of the sand or semi-buried. Of course those that are completely buried are even harder to spot.

Among the snails that can be found must be this prowling Oval moon snail (Polinices mammatus) at the sandbar.

Towards the end of the trip, I spotted this living horseshoe crab. The teamseagrassers found a huge one as well!

Last but not least, I tried to flip over a rock to check for any life, in particular any sea stars. Though I couldn't find any stars, I saw a worm crawling out of the keelworm tube that was encrusted on the rock. Is that the keelworm itself?

Soon it was time to pack out and head for the washing bay to clean our equipments.

I took a glimpse of this guestbook at the visitor centre counter.

And in there are filled with cute and insightful posts of people's impression of Chek Jawa.

It seems that Chek Jawa is not only charming to me, but also to all sorts of folks from the young to the old.

Join us for a Chek Jawa boardwalk guided tour by Naked Hermit Crabs on the 29 August this Sat if you want to experience this special place yourself. The boardwalk is easy to walk on, allowing you to get close to nature without much difficulty. See you there!

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