Three new species of ‘moss animals’ discovered in Southern Islands

SINGAPORE – Three new species of “moss animals” have been discovered right here a couple of years in the past rising on coral rubble, seaweed and a sea sponge throughout the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park.

Moss animals are tiny, easy aquatic creatures that resemble the small vegetation and are categorized beneath a bunch of marine life known as Bryozoa.

Bryozoans are invertebrates that exist in small colonies whereas encrusted on bigger objects akin to coral rubble. Each colony is about a couple of centimetres extensive, very similar to moss rising on a chunk of log.

Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) discovered the three new species whereas surveying and amassing bryozoans for a challenge in 2019.

The discovery of the three new species was introduced by Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Monday (April 11), as he launched a new exhibition on safeguarding the ocean and conserving marine life, on the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Mr Lee added that the NUS scientists additionally discovered 9 current species of bryozoans that have been recorded in Singapore for the primary time. This brings the entire quantity of bryozoan species in Singapore to 133.

“Bryozoans are simple, filter-feeding animals, and interestingly, some of them have been found to be a promising source of anti-cancer drugs,” he famous.

Despite being a small city-state, Singapore is dwelling to a variety of marine biodiversity, with greater than 250 species of onerous corals, 120 species of reef fish, and a bunch of tiny marine life akin to bryozoa.

Mr Lee confused the necessity to proceed defending marine ecosystems and habitats which are in danger of harsh local weather change impacts akin to sea degree rise and ocean acidification, which causes coral bleaching.

The new exhibition on the Botanic Gardens was collectively curated by property developer City Developments Limited (CDL), the National Parks Board (NParks), and Ocean Geographic, a world marine-themed publication.

Housed in the CDL Green Gallery on the Botanic Gardens, the exhibition contains show panels, graphics and photographs that spotlight the significance of regional and world efforts in the direction of coastal and marine conservation.

The exhibition summarises final yr’s COP26 local weather change convention and the way nations promised to strengthen ocean-based motion, and descriptions Singapore’s marine conservation plans, amongst different info.

Visitors may also study native marine creatures from picture shows.

Admission to the exhibition is free and it’ll run from Tuesday (April 12) to August this yr.

One of the three new bryozoan species, Reptadeonella riatanae, was named after Ms Ria Tan, a years-long marine fanatic who runs the wildlife web site WildSingapore.

A colony of the Reptadeonella riatanae was discovered encrusted on marine sponge at Pulau Tekukor, mentioned NUS marine biologist Huang Danwei, one of the scientists who helped uncover the three new species and 9 new native information.

Pulau Tekukor is one of the southern islands of Singapore, situated throughout the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park.

While bryozoans are tiny dwelling issues, they assist contribute to reef-building and supply habitats for a lot smaller marine organisms, mentioned Assistant Professor Huang.

The creatures are important in offering the three-dimensional construction of coral reefs as they type exterior skeletons made of calcium carbonate, he defined.

Dr Karenne Tun, director of NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre, added that when bryozoa type their calcium carbonate skeletons, they will help to behave as a “natural glue” to bind unfastened coral rubble collectively.

Mr Lee additionally highlighted neighborhood efforts in safeguarding the wildlife of the nation’s shores and waters.

He cited Friends of the Marine Park, which consists of boaters, divers and researchers who work with NParks to handle the three.9ha Bendera Bay on St John’s Island. Bendera Bay is dwelling to varied marine habitats, akin to mangroves, seagrass meadows and rocky shores.

Some members of the general public have additionally turn into “citizen scientists”, serving to researchers with biodiversity surveys, he added.

Mr Lee inspired extra folks to volunteer in the marine conservation scene by becoming a member of NParks’ Intertidal Watch citizen programme, as an example, to assist educate guests about Singapore’s coastal and intertidal habitats, and accountable etiquette at these websites.

“Through these shared activities and experience, we can forge stronger community bonds, and better steward our environment together,” he added.

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