25 June 2010

Signs of crude oil still on Tanah Merah

There are still signs of crude on the stretch of Tanah Merah, near the SAF Yacht Club, where the oil spill first hit Singapore on 26 May.
We last visited this shore a month ago, a few hours after the spill hit this shore. While there is a lot less crude on the shore compared to that visit, there are still plenty of signs of crude here. A scummy brownish film still forms on the water in the lagoon behind the 1km long seawall.

This stretch of Tanah Merah is different from the stretch near the Ferry Terminal, which we visited last week and cleaned up two weeks ago.

Today, we notice that the ground here is very soft and slippery. Usually, the ground is firm and sandy, and stepping in the water does not kick up much silt. But today, clouds of opaque silt emerged with every step making it hard to survey the areas in deeper water.

Even on areas which are not submerged, under a thin layer of sand, there is a layer of grey slippery mud-like substance. This grey layer is quite thick, and I had a sniff at it, smells like crude (but then, the smell of crude hung heavy on the shore today). This makes walking quite tricky as we tend to slip even on 'dry' ground. And at many places, we sink shin deep into soft silty mud, where in the past the ground was firm.
Is this what they mean when they say the crude seeps into the ground? Does it stay there forever? Will it be broken down by microbes? Is that why it's black? Anaerobic microbes 'eating' the crude? I have no idea!

Burrowing snails, like this white moon snail, plough through this grey mucky layer just beneath the thin upper layer of sand.
Ghost crabs burrow into the grey layer.
Crude still moves up and down the shore with the tides, forming stains along large stretches of the shore.
A moon snail goes through the crude stains on the shore.
A long stretch of the mid-water mark (almost the entire 200m that we walked) is lined with a layer of crude, similar to what we saw also on the shore near the Ferry Terminal.
Large piece of plastic and rope stranded on the mid-water mark retain crude on the shore.
On the high shore, lots of crude-covered litter.
How sad, even on this beleaguered shore, someone has laid a new fish trap!
Fortunately, there are still signs of life. With many sea stars are still alive on this shore!

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