SEAGRASS MONITORING PROJECT
Seagrass provides a living habitat and a coastal food source for marine animals. Beds of these aquatic plants are scattered around Perhentians’ waters, and sea turtles have been frequently observed to graze on them.
Our seagrass surveys aim to map the presence and locations of these seagrass beds, as well as their sizes, density, and seagrass species diversity. There is sparse scientific information on seagrasses in Perhentian, and our ongoing research will hopefully identify seagrass beds most vital to supporting the islands’ marine ecosystem.
DISTRIBUTION OF ANEMONE & ANEMONEFISH
Closely related to corals and jellyfish, sea anemones are venomous animals known to form mutualistic relationships with anemonefish and other sea creatures which are immune to its sting. They receive nutrients present in fish faeces, while providing protection from predators for anemonefish, including the beloved clownfish. Of the more than 1000 sea anemone species throughout the world, only 10 are known to host anemonefish, 7 of which are found in Perhentians’ waters.
Previous studies by PMRS have uncovered anemone assemblages and population dynamics around the islands. Our current research expands by looking into the pairing patterns between certain species of host anemones with anemonefish, whether host preference is prevalent, and overall species distribution across the islands.
Prolonged monitoring of anemones and anemonefish would increase knowledge capacity for reef management and conservation strategies.
HABITAT MAPPING & CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT
Coral reef ecosystems provide homes for much of the coastal marine life around the Perhentians. Knowing exactly where these reefs are, their composition, and the type of marine life they host can help us to understand them better and continually monitor their health.
Our habitat mapping efforts are complemented by a citizen science project using iNaturalist, utilizing the observations of stakeholders around the islands to build a biodiversity database.
Following more extensive mapping, possibilities are in the pipeline for further studies to be conducted, including into lesser known aspects of Perhentians’ coral reefs such as coral spawning events and coral resilience surveys.