Fuzzy crab, shiny-eyed shrimp discovered on Java expedition

A photo from the South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018 shows a yet-to-be-named spider crab species found in the waters of southwestern Java. (South Java Deep Sea Biodiversity Expedition 2018/AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Fuzzy crab, shiny-eyed shrimp discovered on Java expedition

SINGAPORE: 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 said 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 color.
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.


Pair of Japanese premium melons sell for record $29,300

Updated 26 May 2018
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Pair of Japanese premium melons sell for record $29,300

  • Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan with many being bought as a gift for friends and colleagues.
  • Ordinary fruit is comparatively expensive in Japan and it is not unusual for a single apple to cost as much as $3.

TOKYO: A single pair of premium melons on Saturday fetched a record 3.2 million yen ($29,300) at auction in Japan, where the fruit is regarded as a status symbol.
Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract massive sums from buyers seeking social prestige, or from shop owners wanting to attract customers to “ooh and aah” over the extravagant edibles.
The winning bid was placed by a local fruit packing firm for the first Yubari melons to go under the hammer this year at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido, officials said.
The figure — enough to buy a new car in Japan — topped the previous record for the luxury fruit, which fetched 3.0 million yen two years ago.
“Yubari melons are growing well this year as sunshine hours have been long since early May,” said market official Tatsuro Shibuta.
Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan — like a fine wine — with many being bought as a gift for friends and colleagues.
The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind. A T-shaped stalk is left on the fruit, which is usually sold in an ornate box.
Even ordinary fruit is comparatively expensive in Japan and it is not unusual for a single apple to cost as much as $3.