09 February 2012

Strange seagrass slug on Chek Jawa

What's this curious little blob next to a tiny batch of eggs on a seagrass blade? Might be a slug of some kind?
I always see something strange and new on every shore trip! Yesterday, I was on a lovely seagrassy trip with Siti and Dawn at Chek Jawa.

There's a bloom of Sea lettuce green seaweed (Ulva sp.) on the shore. It's tricky to walk on this green carpet as there are all kinds of rocks, poky things under the slippery seaweed. But we're in luck! Seems like Mama Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) and her babies have just been through here, so we just follow their little footprints for a safe trip to the seagrass meadows.
There's so much Ulva, they're draped all over the mangrove tree roots. Quite a pretty picture and I remember Dr Yong telling me that as the seaweed rots, they provide food for the tree. He said this when he saw me trying to 'clean' a tree of seaweed.
The seagrasses at Chek Jawa seem to be mostly doing well. It was particularly heartening to see swathes of healthy looking Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa)! The Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) remains lush and covering a large area. We even saw small patches of the rare Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii). And there were lots of Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) as usual.
 But we also saw patches of 'burnt' seagrasses, mostly Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
And also some patches of 'bleaching' seagrasses. Possibly due to the hot weather recently? But we won't know for sure unless this is studied.
All kinds of animals live in the seagrass meadows! Like this tiny Carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) perched on a seagrass blade.
I saw many cerianthids aka peacock anemones.
Siti found a gianormous Mama Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) laying an egg capsule near her frame!
It was also good to see many Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra)! Like marine earthworms, these animals play an important role in the health of seagrasses. Siti shared how she encountered sad examples of overcollection of these sea cucumbers elsewhere. We are lucky in Singapore that these animals are safe!
The sandy shore was covered in signs of busy crabs!
But the really special find for me was this Common sea stars (Archaster typicus), which is no longer common at Chek Jawa. They were among the common animals affected by the mass deaths on Chek Jawa in 2007 following heavy flooding in Johor.
And here's the purpose of our trip: Siti's experimental site to learn more about our seagrasses. The experiment is coming to an end soon, so this means I didn't have to clean the frames! Hurray!
I'm trying to take better close up photos of common marine life. And this is what I got of the commonly seen Spiny red seaweed (Acanthophora sp.).
I noticed tiny 'flower-like' structures on the seaweed. I have no idea whether they are part of the seaweed or something else growing on them. So much more to learn about our shores!
I never realised how elegant the Knobbly red seaweed (Gracilaria salicornia) is! The 'bubbles' of new 'stems' squeeze out of one another!
A lovely sunset over Changi ends another great trip to Chek Jawa!
There are not many good low tides this month, but there's always shore work that needs to get done!

2 comments:

  1. You certainly brought out the inner beauty of Gracilaria salicornia. Nice close-up. As for the flower-like structures, don't count out the possibility of epiphytic algae growing on other algae like Acanthophora.

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  2. Thanks Joe for this! I always learn so much from you!

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