03 May 2010

Hot Semakau with CPG

We're out today at Pulau Semakau on a cloudless day with a very sporting team from CPG Corporation in a trip organised by the intrepid Khew Sin Khoon.
It's hard to guide and take photos of creatures, so today, it's just photos of people. But do click on the links to find out more about the creatures that we saw.

We had arrived early so we took a stroll to the shore on the landfill towards the natural Pulau Semakau. Ahead of us is the 'half-way tree' which marks the half-way point along the walk before reaching the trail through the forest. The walk gave us a chance to explain about mangroves at leisure and point out the replanted versus original mangroves.
After a safety briefing, the group split up into two, with Kok Sheng and Chay Hoon taking half of them, and Marcus and I taking the other half. Here is Marcus explaining how every inch of the shore is alive. As usual, the shore is teeming with tiny little creeper snails.
A quick stop to check out the amusing fiddler crabs near the solitary Bakau tree. We had fun explaining what the male fiddler crab uses his huge pincer for!
We head quickly out to the low shore, going through the 'death zone' as the designated crossing trail through the lush seagrass meadows of Pulau Semakau. At the end of this trail, there were lots of Common sea stars! Many were hidden in the sand from the hot sun.
We had a quick look at the pools out in the rubbly area, full of corals, sponges and all kinds of other creatures. The most amusing among them are the very cute hairy crab, as Marcus shows. Marcus also spots a Spider conch!
Finally we reached the reef edge. Where we could see the southern islands in the Life Firing Range, as Marcus points out. We also have a look at the Fluted giant clam there, a Sunflower mushroom coral, and the many hard corals and large leathery soft corals here. We also talked about coral mass spawning in Singapore.
Chay Hoon finds a Durian sea cucumber! And the sharp-eyed CEO spotted a gathering of tiny Striped eel-tail catfishes! On the way back, Kok Sheng shares about a carpet anemone. Kok Sheng's blog shares some of the other special finds encountered today. There's so much to see!
Alas, though we had a quick look, we couldn't find any Knobbly sea stars nearby. Perhaps they have gathered together somewhere else for some secret Knobbly purpose? Like the way the Knobblies on Cyrene Reef did on my trip there a few days ago.

It soon got REALLY hot so we headed back. Marcus introduced the Bedara laut, a sea shore shrub, and I think some of the visitors actually tried eating the yellow fruit. We then had a quick tour of the landfill and a briefing by NEA on the operations of the landfill. Fortunately Marcus was at hand to personally autograph the Semakau Book that he wrote and which is on sale at the landfill.
Before we head home, a quick group photo. I had a great day out with the CPG team! Thanks to Khew and Linda for organising the trip, and to Chay Hoon, Kok Sheng and Marcus for guiding.

Today, I noticed the fish farm off Pulau Semakau seems to have many more cages and a floating structure with stacks of white drums. There was also a huge ship parked in the area, designated for large vessels and oil rigs which need maintenance but are too large to get into our shipyards. This area is where Singapore's first coral nursery is located at Pulau Semakau.
At the NEA visitor centre, there are lots of informative boards. Including this photo of what the islands looked like before the landfill was built. Pulau Semakau existed as a natural island with mangroves, seagrasses, reefs long before the landfill was built. The landfill buried all of Pulau Sakeng and half of Pulau Semakau. Thus the marine life existed BEFORE the landfill was built. The marine life did not exist because of the landfill, but in spite of the landfill. Showing the that the landfill was well built and managed.
We used Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal for our trip, so we had a good close look at the massive reclamation project to build the new Pasir Panjang Container teminal. There is this humungous thing which is possibly a dredger.
And the CEO explained that the square things are an area where concrete structures are being created, while the thing with the five chimneys is where concrete is being made. Finally! I find out what these things are. I sure learnt something today!
These massive works are taking place next to the natural shores of Labrador and Sentosa, and are also close to Cyrene Reef. Let's hope these will not impact them too much.

One more trip before this series of low tides are over. It has been exhausting but a great deal of fun too!

More about this trip


  1. wow cool, we learn something new about construction (re: concrete)!

    the fish farm off semakau is supposed to be the largest commercial marine fish farm in Singapore. its fish fry is being reared on semakau itself in AVA's pilot fish nursery on the island (facing the fish farm).

  2. Thanks Ria, Kok Sheng, Chay Hoon and Marcus for showing all of us from CPGCorp around. Without your knowledge and enthusiasm, we would not have spotted and learnt so many new things about our inter-tidal creatures.



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