Nov 9, 2006

Chek Jawa (8 Nov 06)

Teamseagrass was back in booties on the shore to check out Chek Jawa on Wednesday, 8 Nov 06.
Robert and Jackie of Ubin NParks accompanied us to this humungous seagrass meadow.

We measured up a possible plot in the middle of the lagoon to include the largest patch of Ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) that we've yet seen on our shores.

Another possible plot, nearer the low water mark. The 50m tape sure looks puny and short on this huge shore!
Teamseagrass was particularly facinated by the very large and very healthy Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) found on Chek Jawa. These large leaves are the perfect place for small animals to lay their eggs, like the yellow coil in the photo. Of course, there were lots of other seagrasses too. Including the thin and narrow Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) and the pretty Fern seagrass (Halophila spinolusa).

Siti remarked that the Fern seagrasses look somewhat chewed on and missing leaflets, leaving only bare stems. Indeed, something important to monitor during seagrass watch.

Chek Jawa is Echinoderm Heaven. Sand dollars and sea stars abound. For the first time in the longest while, I came across the yellow-and-pink Warty sea cucumber (Cercodemas anceps). This is quite different from the more commonly encountered Thorny sea cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis).

No visit to Chek Jawa is complete without a good gawk at the hundreds of Button snails (Umbonium vestiarum) that lie buried just beneath the sand surface. Incredibly, many square metres of the Northern sand bar are pock-marked with these tiny snails. Each in delicate pastel patterns, no two are alike!

Chek Jawa will indeed be a fascinating and important area to include in our seagrass watch monitoring programme.

Siti's note: Chek Jawa is one of the most extensive intertidal seagrass meadows we have in Singapore (the other being the one at Pulau Semakau). The meadow is composed of a different suite of seagrass species, which implies that the dynamics and processes of the Chek Jawa seagrass meadow are subtly different. We're really pleased that Ubin NParks has agreed to let us have Chek Jawa on our list of monitoring areas. No doubt regular monitoring will help us understand the distribution and dynamics of seagrass beds in Singapore better.

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