Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chek Jawa Walk on 17 Nov 2009

Have not guided any Chek Jawa intertidal walks for the past 3 months, and thus I was really glad that I could squeeze out some time to guide on 17 Nov.

Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
The guides met up first and we took Mr Yeo's van to get to Chek Jawa. At the entrance, we were pleasantly surprised to find a Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) there! This was probably the same rather tamed wild boar that I had been seeing for my past few trips here.

Soon, my participants arrived, and I took them around the mangrove boardwalk before heading down to the intertidal area.

The hunter-seekers found us quite a few Orange Striped Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius infraspinatus). These little animals are not true crabs, and have a very soft abdomen which they need to hide in a shell for protection.

This Swimming Crab (Thalamita sp.), however, is a true crab covered with a hard exoskeleton. It has paddle-like back legs which allow it to swim very well.

We found lots of Green Mussels (Perna viridis) on and near the floating pontoon.

There were 3 juvenile Kite Butterflyfish (Parachaetodon ocellatus). I have seen this species of butterflyfish feeding on sea anemones.

The Mantis Shrimp (Harpiosquilla sp.) is a fierce predator of small fishes and prawns. It has sharp spines on its front claws, which it uses to hunt.

The Window Pane Shell (Placuna sp.) is collected in some areas in the region and made into lampshades and window panes, hence the common name.

On the sandy shore, there were lots of Sand Dollars (Arachnoides placenta).

I was rather surprised to find 3 adult Noble Volutes (Cymbiola nobilis) at the sandy shore. Most of the time we could only find 1 or at most 2 of them. This pretty snail feeds on smaller snails and clams.

There was a also a sea cucumber on the sand. Not exactly sure if the ID though.

The hunter-seekers also found us a Seamoth (probably Pegasus volitans).

The participants were all excited to see their first sea star of the trip - a Sand Star (Astropecten sp.). This sea star can burrow into the sand and feeds on small snails and clams.

Another sea star we saw was this Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus). It can also burrow into the sand, but instead of snails and clams, it feeds mostly on tiny organic particles and micro-organisms.

These 2 pink sea cucumbers may look similar, but are in fact 2 different species. Do you know that sea cucumbers breathe with their anus?

There were stories saying that if you were pinched by a Thunder Crab (Myomenippe hardwickii), it would only let go when it heard a clap of thunder. This is certainly not true, as it will normally release when placed in water.

The Ovum Cowrie (Cypraea ovum) can commonly be found under rocks at Chek Jawa.

There were certainly more Haddon's Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) compared to my last trip here, but I think it will take a long time for it to return to the time before the mass death, when there were easily hundreds of them on the sand bar.

I found this Sandfish Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra) burrowing out of the sand in a pool of water. This is the species commonly found in the market, but note that they must be processed to remove the toxin before they can be consumed.

And the star of the day must be this Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)! This was still a juvenile though - only about 15cm wide. The biggest I have seen so far was about 36cm wide!

Our hunter-seekers also found us a Peanut Worm. Hard to believe that they actually make this into a jelly to be served as a delicacy in China.

There was also this Leaf-porter Crab, which usually carried a leaf on its back to camouflage itself. This one was holding a broken shell initially though, but dropped it when I turned it over.

And the last animal we saw before we left the intertidal area was this Biscuit Sea Star (Goniodiscaster scaber).

It started to rain soon after we left the intertidal area, but fortunately my participants brought their rain gear with them, and thus we managed to reached the visitor centre somewhat dry.

This was certainly a very fulfilling trip again with a group of wonderful participants who were really nature-lovers.

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