06 July 2009

Living sea structures in Singapore

Developing a "colourful, vibrant seascape" on Singapore's sea walls, jetties and piers is the subject of a current government-funded feasibility study.
Tree-like sea fan
These man-made structures surround up to 70 per cent of our coastlines. Reclaimed land accounts for a quarter of Singapore's land area. This figure is projected to rise and more man-made structures such as sea walls and jetty pilings will be built.

The hope is that the project will make room for sea creatures that once thrived here, and help people connect with the marine environment. Adding corals and other vegetation to such walls will also boost their effectiveness as a coastal defence structure.

The three-year project is funded by a $1.4 million research grant from the Ministry of National Development. It involves twenty scientists from the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) of the National University of Singapore and planners from the Housing Board and Surbana International Consultants. The feasibility study was started a year ago.

Full article on the wildsingapore news blog.

Indeed, I think this is a fabulous study and approach to maximising the 'space' for our marine species. Although of course, such habitats cannot compare to our original natural ones. Just as gardens cannot compare with original rainforests.

What kind of stuff have we seen growing on our man-made structures?

Coral reefs!
Kok Sheng shared the hard corals seen growing on the artificial walls at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal! The above photo is taken from his post on Probably the best mainland reef? Read more about this fascinating find on his blog.

All these growths on the many kilometres of seawalls in this area is probably why we've seen such spectacular reef life on our trips to Tanah Merah recently.

Underwater gardens

On hard man-made surfaces on the East Coast: sea fans, hydroids, sponges and other amazing colourful animals.
Encrusted hard surface

On pontoons at Marinas that don't scrape off these marine organisms.

Raffles Marina: soft corals, sponges, fan worms, brittle stars, fishes and other marine life.
Marina at Keppel Bay: soft corals (we haven't had time to look more closely at the growths).

Mangroves! Yes, mangroves do settle on our seawalls over time.
Mangroves on the seawall on Pulau Hantu
At Pulau Hantu, in the sheltered portions of the man-made lagoons, a wide selection of very healthy mangrove trees have taken root!
Mangroves on the seawall on Pulau Hantu
The seagrass meadows and coral reefs have also crept back into this man-made lagoon.

The project to consider allowing nature to reclaim our submerged man-made structures is indeed very exciting!

In addition, marinelife has also crept back onto our reclaimed sandy shores. As we've seen on our recent trips to the East Coast, as well as Tanah Merah.

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