Oct 28, 2007

Checking out Chek Jawa

I joined Kok Sheng and his team of enthusiastic volunteers on Chek Jawa as part of his project to monitor the recovery of marine life there following the mass deaths earlier this year.
It was another scorching day out on the shore.

YC and I were paired up to document the carpet anemones. Seems a simple enough job.

First, to find the poles we placed during our earlier trip...hmmm where are they? Ah, there's a little white stick!Although it was horribly tedious and sometimes hard, YC and I managed to get it done in good time. All thanks to YC's great knees. Great because his knees work very well. So he did all the fiddly bits over the anemones at ground level, while I took photos. Yay! For a change, my back didn't break.

We documented big anemones ...And small ones.As we were doing it, we also explained to visitors on the boardwalk, and later those we met on the intertidal walk, about the project. It was a great opportunity to share about Chek Jawa's vulnerabilities.

Along the way, as we hunted and documented the anemones, we saw lots of interesting things. Like enormous jellyfish!This one was really large!Also well camouflaged crabs. The little Velcro crab (Camposcia retusa) with the yellow sponges on its body and legs was actually next to one of the anemones we were measuring!And YC found a very ambitious tiny porter crab hauling a huge leaf (relative to the crab's size).

And the sponges were recovering! With large specimens in the coral rubble area...And several varieties too!On the legs of the boardwalk were several large flowery soft corals.It was also very nice to see the Warty seacucumber (Cercodemas anceps). In fact, I saw three of them! I rarely saw these seacucumbers even before the flood. This is my first photo in the seven years that I've been photographing the shores, of this sea cucumber with its beautiful feeding tentacles extended!And another heartening sight, several large and active Noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis)! These handsome snails were among those observed dead in large numbers following the flood.But most exciting yet, was the FIRST sighting of a Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) since the flood! Wow! The hunter-seekers for the intertidal walk found it. It was large and seemed healthy and happy. Chay Hoon speaks for the star on her colourful clouds blogI'm so glad the visitors today got to see these special animals. Hopefully Chek Jawa's recovery will continue. And also, hopefully, that this year's December monsoon will not lead to another massive flood...

Alas, as usual, there were lots of abandoned traps and nets on the shore. Dr Chua Ee Kiam and Lioe did the needful by carrying them all out so these deadly rubbish would stop killing our marine life.As the sun set, as we headed back, I had a look at the coastal forest. Wow, the Delek Air (Memecylon edule) was fruiting! This tree is considered rare and threatened in Singapore.

I feel Chek Jawa seems to be doing better. Chek Jawa and the rest of our shores depend on us to ensure that they remain alive and well.

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