01 May 2017

Terumbu Semakau still alive

One of the nicest submerged reefs in Singapore, Terumbu Semakau seemed rather quiet today. We sense fewer live corals, and we still saw some corals with bleached portions.
Living reefs of Terumbu Semakau, Apr 2017
Our last survey here was at the height of mass coral bleaching in Jul 2016. When we estimate about 50% of the hard corals and 50% of the leathery soft corals are bleaching, and about 20% of the corals have died recently.
Mass coral bleaching at Terumbu Semakau, 9 Jul 2016
But we still saw some interesting marine life including healthy giant clams, lots of lively fishes and more.


Here's a video clip of the corals at Terumbu Semakau today.
Living reefs of Terumbu Semakau, Apr 2017
This submerged reef lies next to the Semakau Landfill, which was created by building a long seawall.
Living reefs of Terumbu Semakau, Apr 2017
Many of the Boulder pore corals were pale or had pale or white or dead portions.
I saw a few Brain corals that looked alright, although some had dead portions.
I saw a few Sandpaper corals with dead portions. Many of the Cauliflower corals I saw had small white portions, one was still pale.
I saw many Anemone corals, and other corals, mostly only one or two colonies. The large patch of Branching montipora corals and Stumpy acropora corals were dead.
I saw many Asparagus flowery soft corals and leathery soft corals, they were alright.
I saw a lot of Giant carpet anemones, none of them were bleaching and some had clown anemonefishes.
False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) in Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
In the seagrass areas, I saw two Fire anemones (one was bleachy) and one Haddon's carpet anemone (rather pale).
I also saw one Merten's carpet anemone. I saw many Magnificent anemones, but no Frilly anemones. The rest of the team also saw Bubble tip anemones. All were not bleaching.
I saw many fishes swimming in shallow water as well as the water at the reef edge. Here's two filefishes. I actually only saw one in the field and saw the second one only when I got home!
Seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus)
The seagrasses have not recovered. Heavily covered in epiphytes, Spoon seagrass cover much of the shallow lagoons, with sprinkles of Serrated ribbon seagrass and Tape seagrass, mostly cropped. It's quite similar to what we saw in July 2016.
There used to be lush seagrass meadows on Terumbu Semakau. Here's what the seagrass meadows looked like when we visited in June 2010.
Terumbu Semakau lies next to the Semakau Landfill and close to the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
It was a scorching hot still blue-sky day. The emissions from the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom hung over the island. While a brown hazy layer was clearly seen on the horizon, from industries on Jurong Island?
Everyday locally produced haze
On the way, we saw a barge full of pigs being towed towards Singapore. We learn that such a barge comes in every day. Dead pigs and pig shit is just tossed over the side. As a result, large sharks often follow the barge.
Barge of live pigs being towed to Singapore
As we passed Pulau Jong, which is cloaked in one of the rare coastal forest in Singapore, I notice a large tree that looked like it was dying. If it falls over, it will damage the forest which is already suffering from landslides in the past.
Pulau Jong
There are many threats to our shores. I do hope they will stay well until we can visit again.

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