06 June 2023

Chek Jawa coral garden still thrives!

We do our annual super low tide check up on the southern area of Chek Jawa with kind permission and support from NParks.
Living shores of Chek Jawa, Jun 2023
The delicate garden here still thrives! With flowery soft corals, sea fans and colourful sponges. I also saw a few signs of dugong feeding trails while the rest of the team have some special finds.

The sponge situation is somewhat unchanged over the last few years. Today, I saw some good growths of sponges, but not a wide variety of them. Similar to what I saw last year in Jul 2022, and also in Jul 2021. The two large clumps of Barrel sponges look much better than last year though.
Although the sponge situation seems the better since the Big Flood of 2007. I feel it's not quite reached what I used to see nearly 20 years ago!

Rich coral rubble of Chek Jawa
Chek Jawa July 2002

Rich coral rubble of Chek Jawa
Chek Jawa July 2002 (before the boardwalk was built)

I feel Spiky flowery soft corals have spread out compared to our survey in Jul 2022 and Jun 2021 surveys. While in the past, they were mostly at the edge near the beacon, today they were abundant all along the edge even near the jetty.  There were many small colonies in pretty pastel colours. I didn't see any Pink flowery soft corals or Ball flowery soft corals.
The rest of the team make all the spectacular sightings. Here's a compilation of some of the tiny slugs that Jianlin saw. Check out Jianlin's album for more. 
Photos by Jianlin Liu.

Kelvin Yong also made some special finds as he surveyed the deeper water at the edge. Including a Whip goby! - first sighting for the intertidal team, this is usually only spotted by divers. And other animals among the sea fans like razorfishes and a spindle cowrie. See more in Kelvin's album.
Photos by Kelvin Yong.

As usual, I can only spot common animals such as Haddon's carpet anemones (which were still plentiful). The ground is soft and silty in the lagoon area behind the southern sand bar - perfect for sea pens. I only saw a few sea fans, a few Biscuit sea stars, a few Garlic Bread sea cucumbers, Onxy cowries, one Spider conch and some fishes and crabs.
Near the beacon, I saw more than 20 small to medium sized Boulder pore corals. Some seemed to have grown much since our last survey in Jul 2022. Most were a nice and healthy brown, one was pale green. A few had dead portions. I saw only one small Boulder sandpaper coral, it was alright. I also saw many small patches of Zebra coral. Kelvin also saw a Flowery disk coral.
Seagrasses are still growing lush and fresh near the Beacon. Similar to our survey in Jul 2022, I looked and only found a few furrows that looked like dugong feeding trails. Dugong feeding trails are formed when dugongs chomp up seagrasses including their roots, leaving a shallow meandering furrow of about equal width and depth. It was good to some Fern seagrass as well. Smooth ribbon seagrasses are doing very well growing in a large portion of the area between the beacon and the boardwalk. Kelvin saw one small clump of cropped Tape seagrass.
Fortunately, today we didn't come across any fish nets or traps. We are also lucky that the rains only came at the end of the tidal window and we avoided the worst of it. Thanks once again to NParks for permission to survey.

What is the fate of Chek Jawa?

Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu is slated for reclamation in the Long-Term Plan Review. The plan includes 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 stretches of Changi Beach.

The Singapore Blue Plan 2018

Among the Proposed Areas for Immediate Conservation Priority, the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 proposes that the intertidal and subtidal marine areas of Pulau Ubin to be designated Marine Reserve.
Living shores of Chek Jawa, Jun 2023
The proposed area would include Tanjung Chek Jawa, the largest known intertidal area in northern Singapore. Considered one of the richest in Singapore, Chek Jawa comprises many adjacent ecosystems: coastal hill forest, mangrove areas, rocky shores, seagrass meadows, coral communities, and sandy areas. Chek Jawa remains an icon of celebration and hope for many Singaporeans since its reprieve from reclamation in 2001.

DOWNLOAD the Plan, SUPPORT the Plan! More on the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 site.

More photos by others on this survey

Kelvin Yong

Jianlin Liu

Loh Kok Sheng

Che Cheng Neo

Richard Kuah

Tommy Arden


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