Over a dozen new species of crabs, prawns and lobsters have been discovered during the first-ever exploration of the West Java seas.
After a difficult start at the hands of Cyclone Marcus, scientists collected more than 12,000 creatures over the course of two weeks.
The South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 (SJADES 2018) consisting of 31 researchers and support staff were headed by Professor Peter Ng, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of Singapore.
Around 800 species from over 200 families of sponges, jellyfish, molluscs, starfish, urchins, worms, crabs, prawns and fish were discovered during the expedition, as well as a dozen new species of hermit crabs, prawns, lobsters and crabs.
The research team travelled from Muara Baru, Jakarta, in Indonesia on March 23 on board Indonesian research vessel Baruna Jaya VIII. They then sailed anti-clockwise towards Cilacap in southern Java and back, which was all-in-all a distance of 2,200 kilometres.
Prof Ng said:
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.
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.
The South Java Deep-Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 is the first concerted deep-sea biological exploration undertaken by Singapore and Indonesia, as well as to study deep-sea marine life in the hugely unexplored location off the southern coast of West Java.
The samples collected will be studied by scientists from both countries and is projected to take up to two years, after which the results will be shared and discussed with the world at a top-notch workshop in Indonesia in 2020.
West Java is the most populated province in Indonesia, with over 43 million inhabitants. The capital Bandung is the third largest city in the archipelago and home to a huge 8 million people.
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