26 October 2011

Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass

Mama pig and her piglets welcomed us! Andy last week reported that Mama had a fish hook in her mouth!
Fortunately, Andy reported that the fish hook was removed soon after. Today, I learnt HOW the hook was removed!

Our taxi driver Mr Tan told us that Mama pig was fed bread! The fish hook got dislodged as she ate the bread. He said they first tried Sunshine bread, but that didn't work. Gardenia bread, however, worked like a charm!

TeamSeagrass enjoyed a glorious bright but cloudy and cool weather! With puffy white clouds which didn't leak a single drop while we were working on the seagrass meadows.
After monitoring, we had a quick look around at the marine life found in the vast meadows here. We saw many small and large Noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis). Nothing is wasted in nature, and when these volutes die, their empty shells are taken over by hermit crabs. There were many of these Striped hermit crabs (Clibanarius infraspinatus) on Chek Jawa in all kinds of shells.
Today, there were also many Hairy sea hares (Bursatella leachii) crawling about. These slugs are seasonal and at times seen in large numbers, then none are seen for long periods.
I also saw an Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata) which feeds on seaweeds and is also seasonal in abundance.
Seagrass meadows are a great nursery for all kinds of animals. Here's a tangle of eggs laid in strings. These might be those laid by Gong-gong snails (Strombus turturella) which are common here. We also saw many sand collars laid by mama moon snails.
Today, I saw lots and lots of these jelly blobs which are probably egg masses. See the spiralling lines of tiny spots in the jelly?
Another typical creature of the seagrass meadows are the beautiful and very flat Window-pane shells (Placuna sp.). This one had all kinds of animal growing on it!
Here's an underwater look at a cerianthid aka peacock anemone, and the fluffy black Phoronid worms (Phoronis australis) that are often found living with them. There were many cerianthids on the seagrass meadows today.
This thing that looks a little rose is actually a half buried Spiky sea pen (Scytalium sp.).
There were also many large and small Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra) everywhere on the seagrass meadows. This is good to know as these sea cucumbers are believed to play an important role in the health of seagrass meadows. Here's a closer look at one of them feeding on the sandy surface. We also saw some but not many Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis). I didn't come across any Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.) today.
There were also lots of Carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni), all of them looking healthy and colourful. We notice tiny baby butterflyfishes (Family Chaetodontidae) near some of them. Today, I didn't see any Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi), perhaps their season is over? We saw a few Plain sand stars (Astropecten sp.) but I didn't come across any Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) which were indeed common on Chek Jawa before the mass deaths in 2007. There were, however, still many Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta).

Regular monitoring of the seagrasses at Chek Jawa will hopefully help us better understand what is going on here!

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