Monday, May 2, 2011

Chek Jawa on a hot scorching morning

After more than one year, I finally stepped on the shores of Chek Jawa again! This time with the Teamseagrass volunteers.

It was a really hot morning but it also provided a great setting to take nice photos of the lush meadow of seagrassses at Chek Jawa.

Near the boardwalk, one can find that the seagrass habitat is thick with Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata)! Being not as common as the other species, this seagrass is thus far only seen in large numbers on Chek Jawa and Cyrene Reef. There are also some patches of it at Tanah Merah.

After a detailed briefing by Siti on the different species of seagrass and what is not a seagrass, the intrepid team went to survey on the seagrasses on the transect.

The water was very clear under the bright sunlight and I could not resist submerging my underwater camera to take a photo of the Fern seagrasses (Halophila spinulosa).

Seagrasses create excellent habitats for other marine creatures in live in such as this Carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni). We sometimes call seagrass meadows are marine nurseries as seagrasses make good hiding places in the shallow waters.

Chek Jawa is home to many species of seagrasses, including this Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii).

The Beccari's seagrass are usually found in huge numbers at mangrove habitats where the substrate is soft and muddy. Chek Jawa is the only shore thus far where I've seen them settle well on firm sand. This contributes towards why Chek Jawa is so special.

On the blades of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata), there are some orange encrustations. I believe these are probably either egg cases or ascidians.

While checking out the shore, I manage to spot a single Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) burrowing in the sand. This snail has a very pretty foot that is black with orange spots.

The volunteers from Nparks guided walk found a juvenile Estuarine seahorse (Hippocampus kuda)! Cool!

Near to the floating pontoon, there was a huge catfish. Of course Ivan was very interested as this is an excellent Monday Morgue candidate.

Rather well camouflaged in the sand will be this sea pen (Scytalium sp.) with a tiny Painted porcelain crab (Porcellanella picta)! Can you spot the crab?

Here's the porcelain crab if you cannot find it in the previous photo. Very cute right?

Chay Hoon has lived up to her names of finding small critters especially slugs by showing me this real tiny slug that I have not seen before. I do not know what species this is either.

I had a quick look at the boardwalk pillars to see what is growing on them.

To my surprise, there were many of these blob-looking creatures found encrusted on the pillars. I suspect they are ascidians, which unfortunately are not well studied in Singapore.

More blobby stuffs of another species which are probably also ascidians.

A nice surprise found at the foot of the floating pontoon will be the Bryozoans (Phylum Bryozoa). They are not often sighted on intertidal trips.

This blue Elegant branching sponge (Haliclona sp.) was also spotted underneath the boardwalk.

Unfortunately, yours sincerely was so engrossed in looking at stuffs below the boardwalk leading to the floating pontoon that I accidentally hit my head against an oyster shell while trying to stand up. A long but shallow cut was birthed. Ouch!!

It was good to be back at Chek Jawa after a long period of absence. It also allowed me to have a preliminary check out on the health of the shore. Please read more of how the shore is doing on the Chek Jawa Mortality and Recruitment Project blog.

More photos of the trip here:

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