29 May 2010

Kusu Island: slick-free, for now

This morning, the team is at Kusu Island as earlier planned for the giant clam hunt.
This beautiful reef lies just across from our Central Business District!

Some parts of this shore is crowded with a bewildering variety of hard corals!
Kusu Island not only has many large corals, but these are also packed close to one another here.
Here's another cluster of large corals at Kusu Island.
And more photos of corals and other reef life jammed up next to one another. These reefs provide lots of hiding places for little fishes, crabs and other creatures. Some of which are only found living with corals. See James' blog post for more of these creatures.
Among the wide variety of hard corals at Kusu Island are: delicate Thin disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), a pretty blue coral, Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.), a strange kind of ridged montipora (Montipora sp.) that I seldom see, Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.), and colourful Favid corals (Family Faviidae).
Pulau Hantu has lots of sea anemones! There are many colourful Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the seagrass area, and lots of Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica). Also a Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis), and a Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.).
The rest of the team also found a Leathery anemone (Heteractis crispa), a Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum) and saw many anemonefishes in Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea).

There were quite a lot of fishes in the waters today. Strangely, a lot of little rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae), something I don't recall seeing at Kusu before. Their behaviour reminds me of the rabbitfishes at the slicked area at Tanah Merah. Oh dear. Other reef fishes are also common here, but not as easily photographed as at Tanah Merah as the water at Kusu Island is rather murky.
There are lots of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) on this shore! As well as some sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta). In a way, I'm glad I didn't see any special burrowing echinoderms today, as it might be a sign that things are not right with the sand.
The team also found lots of other interesting marine life here. Alas, we couldn't get to the giant clam that we were looking for as the tide was a little too high. But Mei Lin has already found a nice clam here while diving sometime ago.

How are the reefs at Kusu Island doing?

I saw several large colonies that were completely bleached. More about coral bleaching.
It was disturbing not only to see bleached corals, but also those with signs of some sort of 'disease' - the bluish portion.
A closer look at the 'diseased' portion of the coral.
Another hard coral with unbleached but also bluish portions.
This is an odd encounter, a bright pink coral. I'm not sure if this is a sign of stressed coral.
Today, almost all the Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) were pale. They are usually more purplish. I'm not sure what this means.
The water at Kusu Island is also quite murky. This is the usual situation here. What does murky water mean for our reefs? Here's a separate post on the topic.

Trash and litter on the shore is a perpetual problem on our shores. Today, I saw an umbrella, and a very large sheet of plastic on the reef!
Alas, there are often large fish traps laid out on the shore behind the temple on Kusu Island. Fish traps and driftnets take a toll on our shores and reefs.

Will the oil spill hit Kusu Island?

We have a glorious sunrise today. But a sad one as we look to the east where the oil spill started.
If the oil slick spreads to the Southern Islands, Kusu Island will be among the first to get it. The orange portion is the spread of the slick currently, based on the map provided in the Straits Times today.
Fortunately, there is NO sign of oil spill in the waters around Kusu Island. The boat wake is white as it should be, and there is no smell of petroleum in the air.
We can only hope for the best, that the slick will not reach the beautiful shores in the South.

We are glad to hear that fellow shore lovers have made field trips this morning as well to check up on our slicked shores. Sam went to Changi Carpark 7 and Ivan went to Tanah Merah. We quickly called them to get updates after the tide turned.

Other posts about the trip to Kusu Island

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