In a Channel NewsAsia video clip, Prof Peter Ng said: "We have not seen mass kills, I'm sure some are affected. Longer term, the oil will affect the animals in different ways. Reduce their reproduction, reduce their growth rate. It might reduce their strength. And that has long term implications.
From the Straits Times:
Prof Ng said that the oil slick that has hit the Chek Jawa wetlands has not resulted in any mass destruction of wildlife there. However, signs of death may show up over the next few days. Yesterday, fishes and crabs could still be spotted near the shoreline.Read more about the 2007 mass death incident on Chek Jawa and the subsequent recovery in Kok Sheng's Chek Jawa Mortality and Recruitment Project.
'In the short term, some animals will die. We have not seen mass kills but I'm sure some are affected,' he told reporters during a trip to the wetlands yesterday to observe the damage. The breathing of fishes, for example, will be affected if their gills are coated with oil.
Prof Ng and his team of researchers have been working closely with the National Parks Board to monitor the situation at the nature area.
While the scale of the pollution was 'minor', he cautioned that any amount could upset the fragile ecosystem in Chek Jawa.
With most of the oil patches along the wetlands cleaned up yesterday evening, he said the next step will be to monitor the long- term effects of the pollution. As this is the first major pollution in the area, it is unclear how the ecosystem there will react.
Oil pollution could reduce the reproduction rate of the wildlife and stunt its growth, he said, adding that the accident was a 'wake-up call as to what can go wrong'.
A post-mortem of the clean-up efforts should be done to help the relevant bodies prepare for a similar situation, or worse.
'The authorities have already done what there is to be done... At this stage, the system has to self-recover,' he said. 'If we don't let too much oil hit it, the chances of recovery are not too bad.'
[Prof Peter Ng is director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute, and director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore.]
Andrew Tan, CEO, National Environment Agency is quoted as saying: "Our priority was to remove the sludge rather than rescue the animals."
He also said "It's unfortunate that Chek Jawa had suffered two environmental threats within such a short time." Three years ago, as a result of heavy rains, the area was hit by freshwater flooding which altered the salinity of the water and led to the deaths of many sea creatures there. "It will take time to see how soon the ecosystems here will recover," he said.
Is there hope for Chek Jawa?
Mei Lin provides some timely hope, sharing her personal experience of the amazing recovery of the shores from Singapore's worst oil spill, the Evoikos spill which released 25,000 tonnes of oil into our waters in Oct 97. Read Mei Lin's post "Oil of death - Where were YOU when the shores need you..." on her Psychedelic Nature blog.
Can ordinary people help to monitor the health of Chek Jawa?
Yes, you can. Monitoring of seagrasses have been ongoing since 2007. TeamSeagrass is made up of ordinary people who volunteer to watch the seagrasses in various sites in Singapore, including Chek Jawa.
You can also help monitor our marine life in other ways. ReefFriends is programme by the Blue Water Volunteers to do regular surveys of our reefs. They welcome dedicated and serious volunteer divers.
Finally, here's some photos of the oil spill on Chek Jawa from the media.
A 1km long boom has been placed offshore from east of Pulau Ubin as a measure to prevent oil leaked from the tanker accident from affecting Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin coastal areas. -- ST PHOTO: SAMUEL HE
Oil spill at Chek Jawa wetlands on Pulau Ubin. -- PHOTO: NPARKS
Oil spill reaching Chek Jawa. -- PHOTO: NPARKS
More photos and updates on the Oil Spill Facebook Page.