01 August 2011

Cyrene AND Raffles Lighthouse!

I'm back again on Cyrene Reef, this time with a very adventurous team from NParks.
This included the CEO of NParks and members of the NParks Board as well as many enthusiastic members of their social club and other NParks staff.

We arrive at Cyrene at the first light of day. There are two boats of people visiting today!
While we wait for the other boat to land on Cyrene, Collin explains about Cyrene's location in the middle of the industrial triangle.
Then it's our turn to land, hurray!
As soon as we landed, we are greeted by lots of big red Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)!
We also have a look at the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) which are abundant on Cyrene but sadly, no longer common elsewhere in Singapore. A long time ago, they were indeed our most common sea star, before we lost many of their shallow, sheltered sandy shore homes to reclamation.
Meanwhile, Jeff Low is sharing about Cyrene with the CEO and Board members.
Jim has found an octopus! There's a rush to have a look at it. Fortunately, the little beast was quite obliging and allowed everyone to get a glimpse of it.
Hurray! Ferren has found the Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus). This sea star was first discovered on Cyrene and is a new record for Singapore. The CEO has a closer look at it.
Ferren (in yellow) has a look at the Pentaceraster sea star (bottom right) compared with the more abundant Knobbly sea star. We also managed to show everyone some of the animals that we saw on our most recent trip to Cyrene two weeks ago. Such as the giant Forskal's sidegill slugs (Pleurobranchus forskali). Also the White sea urchin (Salmacis sp.) which is more common on our northern shores like Chek Jawa and seldom seen on our southern shores. Indeed, I consider Cyrene the Chek Jawa of the South.
All too soon it was time to leave Cyrene as we had another place to visit! More about Cyrene Reef.
On the way there, we passed by the many other submerged reefs in the area, such as Terumbu Pempang Darat, Terumbu Raya and the live firing islands of Sudong, Pawai and Senang. Finally, we see the lighthouse!
It was a wet and wild ride to Raffles Lighthouse in Dolphin's open boat. We were all constantly wiping our glasses and I got thoroughly wet from the splashing by the time we arrived.
Wow, the tide is still not very high yet when we arrive at the Lighthouse! We could see the wonderful corals from the jetty!
I took a closer look at some of the corals by stepping into the shallower parts of the lagoon. I saw a Black-tipped reef shark zooming off! And a stingray too! Here's some of the corals I managed to photograph before the tide really came in.
If we go to the Lighthouse at low tide, this is what we might see. More photos of what I saw here some years ago on wildsingapore flickr.
Living reefs of Raffles Lighthouse, Singapore
These adventurous ladies explored the rock pools on the high shore.
There were Nerite snails (Family Neritidae) laying while disk-shaped egg capsules in the rock pools. There were even some small hard corals growing there.
Vivek found a Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) at the base of the seawall. We carefully went down to have a look. Alas, it was stone dead! It's quite disconcerting to find so many dead giant clams recently on our shores. We found a dead one at Pulau Jong in Apr 2011, and on Terumbu Raya yesterday. Did they die because of coral bleaching last year? Like corals, giant clams also harbour symbiotic algae (zoocxanthallae) which are lost during bleaching, affecting the animals' health.
We brought up the Giant clam shell and other finds such as a dead Giant top shell (Trochus niloticus) for everyone else to have a closer look. I also had a quick chat with the lighthouse keepers who said they seen a sea turtle laying eggs on the beach but sadly the nest was disturbed by monitor lizards. They also sometimes see dolphins, and regularly see large fishes in the area.
Sadly, even at this remote shore, trash still floats up with the tides. Marine litter is an issue that is tackled by the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, a volunteer-based effort to collect data on our marine trash. You can be a part of the solution!
After a lovely lunch of nasi lemak which Collin prepared for us, and catching up and making new friends, it was time to go home. Before that, a final group shot at the Lighthouse under a glorious blue sky! I last visited the Lighthouse also with NParks in Jan 2011. More about Raffles Lighthouse in this earlier post.
Thank you to NParks for inviting me to join this trip. It was great fun sharing about our shores with such an enthusiastic crowd!

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