21 February 2015

The big picture at Little Sisters Islands

There are living reefs at Little Sisters Island, just minutes from mainland Singapore! I spent most of the trip looking at them through a wide angle lens.
The Drone also flew again! And the team found interesting critters at the smaller of the two Sisters which are part of Singapore's first Marine Park.



A closer view of the reef edge. On the horizon is Pulau Tekukor whose western shore is also part of the Marine Park, and behind it Sentosa and the Central Business District on the mainland.
There is a great deal of erosion on the shoreline. This is not surprising because both Sisters have been reclaimed. The sandy beach should not be there. The sea will slowly remove the sand.
This aerial shot taken by the Drone Commander with SG Drone shows more clearly what happened. The yellowish tall trees in the middle is the original 'island' which was surrounded by a reef flat.  The coconut trees and sandy area marks the area where soil and sand was dumped on the reef to create a beach. The seawall marks the old reef edge.
The reef is creeping back into the swimming lagoon.
As we walk out past the seawall, more large soft corals and other marine life can be seen.
A view of the reef edge at the opening of the seawalls.
Big Sisters is very close by.
A view of the intertidal area on Little Sisters with Big Sisters on the horizon.
It was recently reported that there might be global mass coral bleaching in 2015, so it's important to keep an eye on our reefs. There isn't much hard corals in the mid-tide area which I surveyed. Most of the corals seemed alright.
I did come across a few with white or pale patches. Little Sisters doesn't appear to have as many hard corals as Big Sisters.
The large Leathery soft corals that I saw were not bleaching.
This pair of Pimply nudibranchs are easily overlooked as just another colourful lump of marine life like the yellow sponge and brown coral nearby.
I saw this pretty Dawn flatworm. Kok Sheng found marvelous creatures!
The larger lagoon had a thin layer of tiny Spoon seagrass. Among them were Haddon's carpet anemones and one Giant carpet anemone. All of them had anemone shrimps.
There were also cerianthids and some Common sea stars.
We left on another glorious breezy sunny day. We forget that Singapore is a tiny island under a big sky until we are out at sea.
We were treated to a spectacular sunset! Our last trip to this little island was in May 2012 when we enjoyed a spectacular sunrise!
The team also found a dead Barn owl. Fortunately, Chay Hoon had a ziplock bag big enough for the ant-infested bird. We collected it for David 'Dead Bird' Tan from the Avian Lab at NUS who is studying dead birds so we can better understand Singapore's birds and why they die and thus perhaps prevent future deaths. More about David's work on Monday Morgue.
Little Sisters and Big Sisters are part of Singapore's first Marine Park. The Park also includes the western shore of Pulau Tekukor and St. John's Island. Later today, we are going to St. John's!

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