14 April 2009

Special seagrass on Pulau Sekudu: Halophila decipiens

I saw this odd seagrass with 'pointy' leaves on Pulau Sekudu in May 07.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis)?
Len McKenzie, Principal Scientist and Seagrass-Watch Program Leader of Seagrass-Watch HQ has just informed that this is Halophila decipiens! (Though we still need to get a herbarium specimen for final confirmation.)

Halophila decipiens is the latest of our seagrass species to be added to the long list of seagrasses on our shores! It was first confirmed in 2008 from specimens collected off Pulau Semakau at a depth of 8m. It has since been sighted at other locations in waters off the Southern islands.

Len remarked that "the abundance of Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa) at Chek Jawa would suggest a habitat also suitable from Halophila decipiens."

He adds that finding Halophila decipiens at the edge of the shallows is uncommon. He shares that he has only seen this situation a couple of times before, on the east Coast of Queensland. Both environments he observed were very turbid waters and it was exposing on a very low tide.

This means that TeamSeagrass will have to look more closely at those Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) when we monitor!

7 comments:

  1. I know nothing about seagrass but I can feel the joy and excitement of finding a new species, whether a plant or an animal. Congratulations and well done, Ria.

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  2. Thanks Federick! Yes, it's exciting. But we must get sample first to be sure :-) This just motivates me more to look even more closely at our seagrasses!

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  3. Fantastic that the species is more widespread in Singapore than just Semakau or Sentosa, where Eugene 1st saw it and made a tentative identification in late 2006! I checked it at NUS (bristly hairs on both surfaces, blade length, venation, etc) and it did look like a new record for Singapore then. We collected and passed specimens of the seagrass to Siti and Shufen from NParks in 2007, and they confirmed its identification a few months later after sending specimens to Australia (i think they did). They should have the dried specimens of the ones we collected in the Herbarium if you want to check it Ria. :)

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  4. Thanks Karenne for sharing the fascinating background to Eugene's discovery of the first H. decipiens!

    It does really show that we can always learn so much from taking a closer look at our shores. This is so exciting!

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  5. You know Ria, there is still so much to discover both above and underwater! Your work in the inter-tidal realm has increased our knowledge and added many more species to the biodiversity list in Singapore.

    We are working on compiling a photobase of sub-tidal flora and fauna - maybe together with the photos taken by other divers, we can start building up a more robust national inventory.

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  6. Fantastic to hear that Karenne!

    A subtidal photo database will show that our waters are alive, even though somewhat murky. Fabulous!

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