Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December Transect Day 2

Introducing the teams for day 2: here we have Khairul, Vincent and Alex with transect two. Too bad they are quite far from this photo and I don't have another shot of them in work since time was tight. On the left is July, my assistant this time. Without him, I won't be able to do a lot within a few hours of tide window.

The other team consisted of (from left to right) Yong Xiang, Qian Yue, Apple and Yikang. I salute them for their efforts. Wind was strong and the tapes were as strong as a tug of war to adjust in the correct direction. Never never underestimate the power of nature.

Chek Jawa was in perfect weather, again we were so blessed. Many different shorebirds land on the intertidal flat to rest and feed.

A flock of Great crested-tern along the sandbar with Tekong breakwater and Pengarang forest in the background.

The carpet anemones are thriving in the northern sandbar edges. This one is caught feeding on a crab.

It may be hard to imagine but carpet anemones are not flowers or plants. They are animals, inveterbrates that feed through their central mouth which is also their anus.

Day 2 proves to be starry! In an unexpected area of sandbar, something orangey and striking caught my attention despite I was walking very quickly.

It proves to be a stunning cake seastar (Anthenea aspera) in a colour I have not encountered before. It is about 15-18 cm in diameter. Ria commented that it can feed on the populations of button shells found nearby. That may explain why it is found on the sandbar instead of coral rubble.

Together with July, I found another star. The common sea star (Archaster typicus) that were wiped out totally after the mass death early this year. A month ago, Ron spotted the first one that appeared though its arms were bit broken. I'm glad to witness their return personally, in healthy state.

Their diameter is about 15cm. Will they survive through the current monsoon season till Feb 2008? We will know the next time we monitor at end January.
Given that it is the last series of 0.0m tides till April 2008 and that I had the assistance from July, I had a bit of time to check out the health of coral rubble since it has been raining quite a lot for the past weeks.

And surprise! The third star of Chek Jawa, the knobbly seastar (Protoreaster nodosus), which were also wiped out after mass death. This one is not the same as the previous first one found last month.

The coral rubble was doing well and I got to see stony boulder corals (Porites sp.) at Chek Jawa for the first time. Thanks to the very low tides especially many of these corals were exposed.

Sea squirts or tunicates were also abundant.

Sponges that melted away during the mass death returned in all sorts of colours.

And also in all types of shapes.

Juvenile growths of sea fans were also found.

Coral rubble is also the only area in Chek Jawa to find the tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Other types of seagrasses grow in abundance elsewhere at the seagrass lagoon and edges of sandbars.

Ria and I found this abundant bubu trap with large fishes like the groupers inside. If we didn't save them, they will die eventually.

Before leaving, I chanced upon this seapen with an insect-like organism. Any idea what is it?

We left with a spectacular full moon and clear skies of constellations.

Big thank you to July, Yikang, Yong Xiang, Apple, Qian Yue, Vincent, Khairul, Alex and Ria for the help.


vwong bleong said...

Thank you Kok Seng for the chance to experience nature in such an intimate manner. I really enjoyed myself spotting all the weird and interesting stuff and I really hope to do this again! I think for us first timers, it really was an awesome christmas eve well spent!

Kok Sheng said...

Glad you enjoyed the trip Vincent. Hope to see you again on another monitoring 2008. Happy New year!