28 January 2013

Did Chek Jawa survive the rainy weather?

In 2007, there was mass deaths of carpet anemones and other animals at Chek Jawa. This is believed to be due to heavy rainfall as marine life can't cope well with too much freshwater.
So the recent spell of wet weather got me a little worried. During yesterday's TeamSeagrass trip to Chek Jawa, I had a quick look to see how the shore is doing. I also noticed sand bar movement and we removed part of an abandoned driftnet.

It was good to see many small to medium sized carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the seagrass meadows. During the mass death, carpet anemones were bleaching, bloated up like balloons or exploded and rotting.
On this trip, I didn't come across any dead or bleaching sea anemones. Although some of the sea anemones were pale or looked a little bloated.
During the mass deaths, many sea cucumbers were bloated or dead. Burrowing sea cucumbers also emerged out of the sand. On this trip, I saw many  Warty pink sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps), only one Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis), a few Smooth sea cucumbers and one  Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.) above ground. There were also some cerianthids aka peacock anemones although they are not true sea anemones. None of them were dead and most seemed alright.
I did come across one Garlic bread sea cucumber (Holothuria scabra) that didn't see well, with parts of its body that seems soft and rotting. But the other Garlic bread sea cucumbers I saw seemed alright.
The area of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) is now huge! And the seagrasses are lush and doing well. More on the TeamSeagrass blog.
But the southern sand bar has moved a great deal. So much so that our transect lines end on in the middle of the bar! When we first started monitoring in 2007, the lines end well BEFORE the sand bar.
The sand bar seems to have buried some Smooth ribbon seagrasses as it moved.
There is also no more seagrasses all around the pontoon area.
The area photographed above was full of seagrasses in Jul 2011, and we even saw dugong feeding trails here.
Here's a look at the large area of sand near the pontoon without any seagrasses.
 The area in the photograph above was so thick with seagrasses in May 2009, that we even did seagrass training here.

Here's another look at the area near the pontoon, bare of seagrasses.
As I headed to check up on Site 2, I came across a large abandoned driftnet. More about the net on Project Driftnet.
Near the net there were dugong feeding trails. This is why I feel it's important to keep driftnets out of Chek Jawa!
I also saw a pair of people carrying their kayak across the Northern sand bar.
When the team arrived at Chek Jawa, we came across Mama wild boar and her grown up piglet. Oh dear, they were eating some food left among the parked bicycles. Sadly, when such wild animals do their natural thing, they are considered to be misbehaving. Humans are smarter than wild boar and we should be careful about our food when we visit wild places.
TeamSeagrass trips not only allow us to gather data about our seagrasses but also an opportunity to keep an eye on some other threats to our shores. More about TeamSeagrass and how ordinary people can join the Team.

Posts by others on this trip

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