Singapore and Indonesia researchers uncover at least 12 new species off Java

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 17 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE — Scientists from Singapore and Indonesia have found at least 12 species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs that are new to science in the deep sea off western and southern Java.

The South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018), the first such expedition jointly organised by both countries, also yielded more than 40 species that are new records for Indonesia.

The figures may be the tip of the iceberg as the researchers now go through the 12,000 specimens collected during the 14-day expedition, crab expert Peter Ng told reporters on Tuesday (April 17).

Prof Ng is the chief scientist for the Singapore team and head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Thirty-one scientists and a 25-member support crew set off on the Indonesian research vessel, Baruna Jaya VIII, on March 23 from Jakarta. They sailed anti-clockwise towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, sampling at depths averaging 800m and up to 2,100m.

Among the new species are a crab with fuzzy spines and blood-red eyes, a lobster with long arms and a zebra-patterned shell, and a hermit crab with green eyes and orange banded pincers.

The largest creatures hauled up include a squid 40cm to 50cm long, purple sea cucumbers weighing about 1kg each and a tulip sponge about 1m long that anchors itself to the ground with glass threads. The smallest creatures include worms and a type of crustacean called copepods that are 1mm to 2mm in size, or tinier.

The scientists faced stormy weather at the start due to the tail-end of a cyclone, and about half of them were sea-sick on the first day. But the terrain posed a far greater challenge. “Getting used to the seasickness was quite easy; getting used to the terrain was very difficult. Sampling was very difficult,” said Prof Ng.

The depths and terrain given on maps were wrong, resulting in nets being ripped when they were sent down. Out of eight trawl nets which the team took along, seven were ripped and nights were spent repairing some of the nets.

Other equipment included dredges (which are made of steel), box corers and multi-corers to collect samples from mud and soil, as well as preservatives. The equipment weighed 4.5 tonnes, while fuel accounted for 98 tonnes of the vessel’s load.

The expedition proved valuable, especially for the younger scientists with little deep-sea experience.

Deep-sea expeditions have traditionally been organised by the French, Americans, Australians, and English. Prof Ng said being tasked with the primary responsibility this time round was important. For instance, it was a “learning curve” each time the team threw down the multi-corer. “You know what to do in theory… but it’s not so easy, when the waves are 3m high, to know when it hits the bottom,” he said.

An interesting deep-sea creature found was the Bat fish, which ‘walks’ on the bottom of the ocean. Photo: SJADES 2018

Some expedition members are also involved in studies of an area 80 times the size of Singapore in the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Mineral Singapore, a unit of Keppel Corporation, signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority in 2015 to explore how metal-rich rocks could be harvested and is working with the Keppel-National University of Singapore (NUS) Corporate Laboratory to conduct environmental studies and surveys for the metal deposits.

“(SJADES 2018) will be useful for our next trip in the Pacific. We’ve been there once and hope to do it again (next year),” said NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute’s Mr Lim Swee Cheng, who studies sponges.

The scientists’ haul from the deep featured an unwelcome component: Marine trash in the form of plastic bags, snack wrappers, coffee sachets, toothpaste tubes and even clothes.

Out of 63 stations where samples were collected, only five or six were without rubbish, said hermit crab expert and the Indonesian team’s chief scientist Dwi Listyo Rahayu.

“Yes, we found somebody’s underpants at (a depth of) 1,000m,” said Prof Ng. “Deep-sea trash, we’re finding it almost everywhere on the planet, even in the most isolated places in the Pacific or Indian oceans where there are no human beings around… the problem with plastic is, it’s everybody’s problem, so it’s nobody’s problem.”

Marine trash can cause animals to get entangled and has been found in the gut of whales and other creatures.

The scientists will now study the specimens collected from the expedition, and hope to share results and discuss them with others at a workshop in Indonesia in 2020.


More than 12,000 marine creatures uncovered during first-ever exploration of West Java seas

National University of Singapore Phys.org 17 Apr 18;

Despite a stormy start thanks to Cyclone Marcus, scientists who participated in the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018) had collected more than 12,000 creatures during their 14-day voyage to survey the unexplored deep seas off the southern coast of West Java, Indonesia.

The expedition team, consisting 31 researchers and support staff, were led by Professor Peter Ng, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Professor Dwi Listyo Rahayu, Senior Research Scientist at the Research Center for Oceanography (RCO) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). The NUS research team comprises scientists from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Some 800 species from over 200 families of sponges, jellyfish, molluscs, starfish, urchins, worms, crabs, prawns and fish were uncovered during the expedition. Over a dozen new species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs were discovered, and over 40 species of various kinds are new records for Indonesia.

Among the deep-sea creatures new to science is a crab that has fuzzy spines and blood-red eyes; a lobster with long arms and zebra-patterned shell; and a hermit crab with green eyes and orange banded pincers. Please refer to the Annex for more details about these creatures, as well as other rare and interesting sea creatures collected by scientists during the trip.

63 stations sampled within a fortnight

The research team departed Muara Baru, Jakarta in Indonesia on 23 March 2018 on board Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII. They sailed anti-clockwise towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, covering a total distance of 2,200 kilometres.

"14 days of shared challenges at sea has enabled us to forge strong ties with our Indonesian collaborators, and such links are important to the long-term scientific ties between our two countries," said Prof Ng, chief scientist for the Singapore team. "On the research front, our teams have learnt a lot about how to conduct deep-sea science, handle the various equipment needed for such work, and had the opportunity to sample and examine a multitude of fantastic deep sea animals. We expect to identify more new species among the pickings of the expedition, and we certainly look forward to studying the specimens and data with our Indonesian friends."

Prof Rahayu, chief scientist for the Indonesia team, said, "The Indonesian scientists benefitted both personally and professionally through this expedition, which was partly a capacity-building exercise for our young scientists. Through interacting with international scientists, they were exposed to new scientific techniques and methodologies in an environment that presents a different set of challenges from their own scientific specialities. Hopefully, such knowledge transfer and collaboration would build stronger and more resilient ties among between our two nations."

About the expedition

The South Java Deep-Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 is the first concerted deep-sea biological exploration conducted by Singapore and Indonesia, to study deep-sea marine life in the largely unexplored part of the waters off the southern coast of West Java.

This unprecedented project is a reflection of the bold and collaborative spirit embodied in RISING50 - a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. This joint initiative reaffirms the depth and diversity of the long-standing collaboration between the academic and scientific communities of Singapore and Indonesia.

The samples collected will be studied by scientists from both countries. This is anticipated to take up to two years, and the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a special workshop that will be held in Indonesia in 2020. The outputs will then be collated and published in the museum's science-citation journal, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Singapore-Indonesia deep-sea expedition team discovers over a dozen species new to science
Samantha Boh Straits Times 17 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE - Hidden more than 1,000m underwater along the Sunda Strait off the coast of Jakarta is a peculiar spider crab with plates resembling ears that actually protect its eyes.

It had not been seen for some 10 million years, till researchers from Singapore and Indonesia discovered it while trawling the depths of the sea in March.

Researchers believe the 6cm-wide crab, dubbed "Big Ears", is from the Rochinia genus.

More than a dozen new species of crustaceans were discovered on the pioneering expedition into the deep waters off the southern coast of West Java.

In total, some 800 species from more than 200 families of sponges, jellyfish, molluscs, starfish, urchins, worms, crabs, prawns and fish were discovered, accounting for more than 12,000 individual animals.

Professor Peter Ng, head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, and Professor Dwi Listyo Rahayu, senior research scientist at the Research Centre for Oceanography of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, led the 31-member team on the 14-day trawling expedition.

They sailed from Jakarta to the Sunda Strait, and waters off the Indonesian port of Cilacap, in the south-western part of Java.

Using trawls, dredges and other devices capable of capturing creatures even a few millimetres long, the team collected samples from 63 stations, at depths of between 500m and 2,000m under the sea.

Prof Rahayu said trash was a problem. Only five or six stations were able to trawl the sea without picking up rubbish.

But there was treasure in the trash. One of the hermit crabs was found hidden in discarded underwear.

"How rubbish affects the creatures, we still do not know. But ocean plastic is a huge problem," said Prof Ng.

The expedition was not without problems. One of the nets snared something heavy underwater which could have caused the cable to snap.

If that had happened, there was a real chance the flaying cable would have cut someone on board the ship.

But the captain stopped the ship instead of using force to disentangle the net, which Prof Ng said is something to learn for future expeditions.

He said: "On the research front, our teams learnt a lot about how to conduct deep-sea science, handle the various equipment needed for such work, and had the opportunity to sample and examine a multitude of fantastic deep-sea animals."

This yet-to-be-named crab species was found camouflaged with debris, small zoanthid anemones and mud. It has a distinctive plate which resembles over-sized ears adjacent to its red eyes.

The samples will be studied, and the findings will be shared and discussed at a workshop slated to be held in Indonesia in 2020, and later published in The Raffles Bulletin Of Zoology.

Prof Rahayu said the Indonesian scientists were exposed to new scientific techniques and methodologies through interactions with scientists from other nations.

"Hopefully, such knowledge transfer and collaboration would build stronger and more resilient ties between our two nations," she said.

Fuzzy crab, shiny-eyed shrimp discovered on Java expedition
AFP 19 Apr 18;

A hermit crab, a shiny-eyed shrimp and a crab with fuzzy spines are among over a dozen new species discovered in a deep-sea expedition off the Indonesian island of Java, scientists said.

The team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) carried out the expedition for 14 days between March and early April.

The area covered included a long stretch of the Indian Ocean off Java's southern coast as well as the Sunda Strait that separates the island from Sumatra.

"This is a part of the Indian Ocean that has been never been sampled for deep-sea animals so we really didn't know what to find," said Peter Ng, a crab expert and head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS.

"We were very surprised by the findings," he told AFP on Thursday, adding that the team had expected to discover creatures from the Indian Ocean and the surrounding areas already known to scientists.

But the discovery of species entirely new to science "tells us that there are things happening in that part of Indonesia that we don't know," said Ng, who co-led the expedition.

The researchers examined 63 sites as they sailed from Jakarta to Cilacap town in southern Java and back.

Three new species of spider crabs were discovered during the expedition, the scientists said in a statement.

One of them had a plate protecting its eyes which resembled oversized ears while another was bright orange in colour.

Three new species of spider crabs were discovered during the expedition, the scientists said in a statement
Another discovery was a new species of hermit crab with bright green eyes, according to Indonesian scientist Dwi Listyo Rahayu, also a crab expert and the expedition's co-leader.

One new species of shrimp had shiny eyes that reflect light, the scientists said.

Ng, the NUS professor, said the scientists will carry out a detailed study of the more than 12,000 creatures from 800 species they had picked up on the expedition and publish their findings in 2020.

They expect to discover more new species as they go along, he said.

The reason they immediately identified the new species of crabs, prawns and lobsters is that the scientists involved are experts in this field, he added.

Related links

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/lkcnhm/

instagram
https://www.instagram.com/lkcnhm/

Their microsite
https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/

No comments:

Post a Comment