03 July 2011

Quick Chek Jawa check up with otters and dugong!

Just after sunrise, we encounter smooth otters on Chek Jawa! There were three of them, trotting along the edge of the mangroves!
I was out on the TeamSeagrass monitoring trip and with Dr Daphne to look at the sea anemones there.

Later, as we checked out the mangroves for sea anemones, I came across the tracks of the otters! Smooth otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) have been sighted at Chek Jawa before, but this is my first time seeing them for myself. Andy has a video clip of the otters at Chek Jawa on his blog.
As we surveyed Chek Jawa, we also saw several furrows that might be dugong feeding trails. Some of these furrows were quite close to the boardwalk. Does this mean we might get a glimpse of dugongs feeding at high tide from the boardwalk? Wow!
I also took the opportunity to quickly check up on the coral rubble area at Chek Jawa. There were many colourful swimming crabs (Family Portunidae). I also saw one Spoon pincer crab (Leptodius sp.) and several Stone crabs (Myomenippe hardwicki).
I came across several different kinds of fishes including a small Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), a Painted scorpionfish (Parascorpaena picta), several eeltail catfishes (Family Plotosidae), several Toadfishes (Family Batrachoididae) lurking under the rubble. Also some halfbeaks (Family Hemiramphidae) and many little gobies (Family Gobiidae).
I saw one Beige sea cucumber, a few Ball sea cucumbers were out of the ground (Phyllophorus sp.), some Orange sea cucumbers and many Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis).
There were many Biscuit sea stars (Goniodiscaster scaber) large and small, and several Cake sea star (Anthenea aspera) including an orange one. I also saw some Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.). Chay Hoon saw a small Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus). I didn't come across any sea urchins or any Common sea star (Archaster typicus).
I saw one healthy sea fan. It was a Skinny sea fan encrusted with Tiny colourful brittlestars (Ophiothela danae). There was one Candelabra sea fan which was half dead.
I saw one flowery sea pen (Family Veretillidae). There were many cerianthids of various colours.
The only flatworm I saw was the Blue-lined flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.). I also saw several fan worms (Family Sabellidae), both the brown banded ones and orange ones.
Some parts of the coral rubble area were colourful with marine creatures.
Here and there, I saw small clumps of colourful sponges. But the coral rubble is mostly bare of encrustations.
I came across three colonies of hard coral, probably all Pore hard coral (Porites sp.) and one small patch of Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata).
I feel that the coral rubble area is more or less similar to what I saw during my most recent look at this area in October 2010. It has not recovered to what I remember it before the mass deaths in 2007 possibly due to high rainfall. This shore was also affected by the oil spill in May 2010. Hopefully, over time, it will recover to what I saw in 2002.
Rich coral rubble of Chek Jawa
The sponge encrusted coral rubble area in 2002
Meanwhile, I feel it's important to keep checking up on Chek Jawa.

More about Chek Jawa, how to get there, what to see and do and walks you can join.

More about the sea anemones we saw at Chek Jawa with Dr Daphne.

Posts by others on this trip

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