17 May 2018

Pulau Sekudu with Intertidal Watch

I had a great time at Pulau Sekudu with volunteers from NParks' Intertidal Watch programme.  Thanks to Geok Yeng for inviting me!
Photo by Geok Yeng.
We saw Knobbly sea stars, seahorse, dugong feeding trails, snake, and lots more! I tried to take videos of our trip, my first attempt for a predawn trip!


It was rather challenging to video in the dark with Small Sneaky Swimming camera. But here's glimpses of our trip, with Haddon's carpet anemone and Knobbly sea star. We came across a  Banded file snake and Dugong feeding trails as we were hurrying back to the high shore when the tide turned at sunrise.
Predawn survey at Pulau Sekudu, 17 May 2018
Some glimpses of the interesting marine life I saw today. Including Orange-striped hermit crabFlowery soft coralBall flowery soft coralFlowery sea pen , Spiky sea pen, a Noble volute laying eggs and a tiny Reef octopus. The rest of the team saw many more octopuses.
Various marine life on the living shores of Pulau Sekudu
We usually see a lot more fishes during a night trip. Today, the highlights included an Estuarine sea horseBrown-stripe wrasseLongspined waspfishFalse scorpionfish and our first sighting for the north of a False stonefish
Some fishes of Pulau Sekudu
Like most northern shores, Pulau Sekudu is full of different kinds of sea stars. Here's a look at the lively tube feet of the Eight-armed Luidia sea star and Painted sand star as well as a Knobbly sea star.
Some sea stars of Pulau Sekudu
It was great to see some Common sea stars as these were wiped out in the 2007 mass death that hit Chek Jawa. Common sea stars are also finally slowly returning to Chek Jawa. I saw a small Spiny sea star, many Biscuit sea stars small and large. There were also many Eight-armed luidia sea stars, somewhat small ones. I saw one large Painted sand star. There were very many large White sea urchins, but I didn't find the Diadema sea urchins where they used to be.
It was nice to see not only many large Knobbly sea stars (about 10) but also two younger Knobblies. Which suggests the population is reproducing. There were also variety of sea cucumbers including some Thorny sea cucumbers, Pink warty sea cucumbers, Ball sea cucumbers. There were some Sponge synaptid sea cucumbers on the rocks. I also saw one Garlic bread sea cucumber.
There were a few small Pink flowery soft corals and Spiky flowery soft corals. I saw two small Candelabra sea fans. During my last trip here in June 2017, I saw many different kinds and more colonies of sea fans. There were some clumps of zoanthids too.
The most abundant cnidarian on the shore remained Haddon's carpet anemones, most seemed healthy. I saw many Swimming anemones and some Posy anemones. There were a few Common cerianthids. There were also many Flowery sea pens, Spiky sea pens. Just as during my last trip here in June 2017, there were many Sea pencils too.
Together we saw many different flatworms. From the usual tiny Blue-dot margined flatworms to a small strange speckled flatworm.
Here's a video of some of the worms and slugs I saw. Including the Brilliant flatworm, Purple-spotted yellow flatworm, Hypselodoris kanga nudibranch and Ornate leaf slug
Some worms and slugs of Pulau Sekudu
The lagoon and reefy arm around it is no longer very bare and sandy as we saw in Jul 2015. There is a lot of Sea lettuce, plus a variety of many other kinds of seaweeds. I came one clump of Tape seagrass with long but cropped leaf blades (about 40cm long), there were some patches of Fern seagrass and Needle seagrassSpoon seagrass remains the most abundant species with both small and large leaf blades. The patch of Serrated ribbon seagrass is still there. The ground where they are growing is still very soft, a similar observation made since our survey in Jul 2015.
Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata)
I also came across three small healthy colonies of Boulder pore corals. There were also patches of healthy Zebra coral near the high water mark. I saw very little sponges on the shore compared to my last trip here in June 2017.
Boulder pore coral (Porites sp.)
We didn't come across any active nets or traps on the shore today. What a relief. Two of us quietly checked but couldn't find the bats which used to roost in the big rocks on the island.

This little island lies just off Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin. It is part of the Chek Jawa Wetlands that is managed by NParks.
Dugong feeding trail in seagrass meadows, Pulau Sekudu, May 2018
Pulau Sekudu is off limits since 2007 and requires special permission from NParks. Thanks to NParks for permission and support to do these predawn low spring tide surveys of Chek Jawa. Thanks also to Chay Hoon for making all the transport arrangements. And the team for helping to cover as much ground as we can during the narrow low tide window. Thank you!

Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu may be affected by the 2030 landuse plan by the Ministry of National Development. The plan includes plans for a road link (black line) from the mainland jumping off at Punggol, crossing to Pulau Ubin through Chek Jawa to jump off to Pulau Tekong before circling back to the mainland on Changi East. Proposed reclamation (in yellow) will bury Pasir Ris shores, Pulau Sekudu and Chek Jawa as well as a large amount of shore at Changi Beach.

The regular survey team will be back to do our annual survey in June to check it up more thoroughly.

You too can join  NParks' Intertidal Watch programme to visit our shores and make a difference for them!

Photos shared by others on the trip

Thanks to Dayna Cheah for these photos

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