Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sekudu survey in the predawn

We are finally back at Pulau Sekudu, a tiny island near Ubin that is within the Chek Jawa Wetlands area. With special permission from Nparks, we were able to document this shore with rich marine biodiversity. My previous trip here was way back in Oct 2011.

As there is no jetty on this uninhabited island, amphibious landing is needed. This time we have the both Mr Chua and the son of Mr Chua (also Mr Chua) who provided the transport and assistance so that our landing can be firm and safe.

The first sight that greeted us after we landed would be many of these Spiky sea pens (Pteroeides sp.) that are found interspersed around the seagrasses.

As the tide was low, we quickly checked out the eastern side of the shore and found a pair of the large Long spined black sea urchins (Diadema sp.) stuck to a boulder! These are more commonly seen on our Southern shores.

Ria and I later then surveyed the reefy parts of the shore as the tide receded to its lowest. 

The Polka-dot jorunna nudibranch (Jorunna funebris) are also more commonly found on our reefs in the south and it is a treat to see many of these reefy animals on Sekudu.

More slugs that were found would include this pair of stranded Black-margined nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata). These slugs are currently in season in the south but I only came across these two on this trip.

Only found in the north thus far would be this Sponge nudibranch (Ategema spongiosa) that can be very well camouflaged with the coral rubble and spongy areas. Ria found a pair of these huge slugs!

Later on, I saw this Rose nudibranch (Dendrodoris fumata) that has irregular dark mottling on its body. This slug is quite commonly sighted!

Another well camouflaged slug would be this Bushy slugs (Polybranchia orientalis) that can blend itself very well with the seaweeds and seagrasses.

Near the seagrass area, I also stumbled upon the large Spotted foot nudibranch (Discodoris lilacina) that can look a little boring and hard to spot since the body patterns seem to match well with its surrounding.

Similar to the Chek Jawa trip that we held on the previous day, there are many of these Fine-lined flatworms. Looks like they are in season.

There are quite some of the Blue-lined flatworms (Pseudoceros sp.) that we saw near rocks and coral rubble areas. 

Pulau Sekudu is one of the shores that I enjoy surveying because it is rich with echinoderms. What did we find on this trip?

The Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) are still there and it's always heartening to know that they are doing alright!

Here are photos of four more of these charismatic stars that I came across near the low-water level mark on the reef.

A special sighting would be this "authentic" eight-armed version of the Eight-armed sand star (Luidia maculata). Unfortunately, two of its arms have been injured.

But the most heartache goes out to this individual with all of its arms injured. All it has left is the oral disk with regenerating arms. Hope it gets to recover soon!

Ivan found this pretty brittle star that I have not seen before. It has a large black spot on its oral disk.

We later also saw the Pink sand dollar (Peronella lesueuri) that has been regularly seen on Sekudu. In fact this was the first shore that we started seeing this species of sand dollar.

I was excited to find the Laganum sand dollar (Laganum depressum) on Sekudu because I think this is probably a first record on this shore!

Commonly found in Beting Bronok, Ria only found one Thorny sea urchin (Prionocidaris sp.).

However, we saw quite a number of the Feather stars (Order Comatulida).

I was surprised to see this sea cucumber that looks like the Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra). This could be the black coloured variation of the same species.

Here's a look at its underside. This sea cucumber can really turn itself back to the correct orientation very quickly so taking a photo of this underside is kind of challenging.

There are many yellow versions of the Sea fans or Gorgonians (Order Gorgonacea) on the coral rubble when the tide went out to its minimum. They were more of them as compared to my last survey of the same area in 2010.

Here are more sea fans of red and white.

It is good to also see colonies of these Boulder Pore corals (Porites sp.) still doing well.

They are not especially as large as those found on the southern reefs but I did find quite a number of them at certain stretches of the coral rubble. I'm not too good with coral id, so some of them could be the Boulder sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.) or Favid coral with tiny rings (Cyphastrea sp.).

These are photos of a large colony of the hard coral exposed at the lowest of the super low tide.

There are also representatives for soft corals such as the Ball flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) and Pink flowery soft corals (Dendronephthya sp.).

On top of the many Banded fan worms, there is also this Blue fan worm that I especially find it to be pretty! It has more prominent tentacles of dark brown and yellow rather than blue.

Like Chek Jawa, we came across a couple of the Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma) during the trip. I didn't dare / have the time to venture into the huge lagoon with other rays to see if these scary guys are still teeming there.

The seemingly-small looking clam is actually quite large! I do not know what it is.

Ivan found this moon snail that we didn't really get to figure out its identity. Ria suggested this could be the Bosom moon snail (Polinices mammatus) but it could be something else.

Ria found special cowries on this trip! This pair of cowries that have brown / orange mantles are probably Cypraea gracilis. Thanks to Hoong Wei for suggesting the id.

This is another species of cowrie that we have not seen before. Hoong Wei suggested this could be Cypraea saulae! Very bright and conspicuous-looking!

I also came across another uncommon-looking cowrie which I wonder if it is exactly the Onyx cowries (Cypraea onyx). Unsure though!

When we were done with the trip, it was still dark except for the moonlight that we were soaking in. The rock structure that looks the frog still stands and it makes the name of this frog island ever so relevant.

Pulau Sekudu (and Chek Jawa) may be affected by the 2030 landuse plan by the Ministry of National Development. Currently, this shore is out of bounds to the public and we only visit with permission from Nparks for documentation purposes. Hopefully we will be back soon to have another look at this shore so that we have a better understanding of the island and what it holds.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...