26 June 2009

Cyrene Reef: The Big Picture

It was panorama day at Cyrene, with a glorious sunrise and spectacular blue skies.
The Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) are so abundant on Cyrene that you can't help but have them in your photo.

A submerged reef in the middle of our port area, Cyrene Reef doesn't even appear on Google Earth. But here's a chart by the Maritime Port Authority. I've coloured Cyrene Reef in yellow. As you can see, it is surrounded by Pasir Panjang Container Terminals, Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.
(Click on the image for a larger view.)

Yet, Cyrene Reefs has one of the best marine habitats in the south! It is ringed with coral reefs, here with Pasir Panjang Container Terminals and a container ship in the horizon.
Another view of the reefs with Pulau Bukom in the horizon.
More of the reefs with Jurong Island and a container ship in the horizon. And James, Richard and Stephen hard at work photographing this vast shore.
Cyrene Reef also has lush seagrass meadows! These grow right next to the reefs.
There are 7 species of seagrasses on Cyrene, including the Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium) which is so far only seen also on Pulau Semakau, and from yesterday's trip, also at Beting Bemban Besar off Pulau Semakau. Here's a view of the seagrass meadows with Jurong Island in the horizon.
These vast meadows are monitored by TeamSeagrass. Here's another view with Pulau Bukom on the horizon.
And another view of the edge of the seagrass meadows facing the Pasir Panjang Container Terminals.
There's also a large 'spine' of sand bars in the middle of Cyrene Reefs. We land on the edge of this sand bar, and usually the first photos we take of a sunrise trip is of the sand bar!
The sand bars are teeming with common sea stars (Archaster typicus), sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta) with a sprinkling of Oval moon snails (Polinices mammatus). While soldier crabs (Dotilla sp.) get busy during the low tide on higher portions of the sand bar. Here's a view with Jurong Island in the background.
And another view with Pulau Bukom, the huge orange Cyrene Beacon, and a container ship in the horizon.
Dr Raju did a fantastic GIS map of Cyrene Reef with all the habitats and Cyrene Reef's major features indicated.

While we have not recently seen any driftnets on Cyrene Reef, we regularly see large fish traps laid all around the reef edge as well as in the deeper pools in the seagrass area. Today, we must have seen at least 10 such traps. Caught in them were fishes such as stingrays, catfishes and one stonefish.
Cyrene Reef is also near several major maritime works. The largest being the reclamation off Labrador for a new container terminal. Here's a view of the worksite (cross-hatched in the green portion).
We can actually see the dredgers and heavy industrial barges at the worksite from Cyrene Reef. Here they are in the background, of Collin and Jeff working on the fish survey today.
As we headed home, we got a closer view of these massive works.
A huge dredger with a barge.
Some sort of large industrial facility on a barge.
Here's a closer look.
And a series of large grey structures reaching to the mainland shore.Let's hope Cyrene remains safe as these works progress.

Ongoing works near Cyrene Reef
Ongoing work next to Cyrene Reef
Past work next to Cyrene Reef

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