28 July 2014

Prepping at the Sisters' Island Marine Park

Well before dawn, a small team of volunteer guides and NParks officers are on the shore to familiarise ourselves in preparation for public walks on the Sisters' Island Marine Park.
Other volunteers are also on the trip to do our usual health check on this shore, especially to look out for coral bleaching.

First, the coral bleaching check up. (What is coral bleaching and why this is of concern on the Bleach Watch Singapore blog.) I only saw a few hard corals with pale or white 'tops'. Some of the Boulder pore corals had bluish portions. A small Flowery disk coral I saw was very yellow. But I didn't see any hard corals that were completely bleached.
I saw a lot of Circular mushroom corals that were rather pale. Others were their usual colours. I saw one Mole mushroom coral that seemed alright.
The most abundant corals remain Favid corals in various bright colours. Most of them were alright.
I saw a few other coral species and most were alright. These included tiny to small colonies of Brain coral, Acropora coral, Montipora coral, Crinkled sandpaper coral, Galaxy coral. I couldn't cover a large area so I'm glad the rest of the team helped to check up on the shore.
There were some Leathery soft corals and all those I saw were alright.
A few of the polyps of this Ridged corallimorph had bleaching patches. But most of them were alright. I also some clusters of Button zoanthids and they were not bleached.
Many of the Broad feathery soft corals were rather pale.
The scary but fascinating Diadema sea urchin should be admired from a distance!
This very well camouflaged fish is the Painted scorpionfish. The rest of the team also found two Tiger-tail seahorses. Fortunately, no one encountered the Stonefish today!
The Spider conch is often seen but its encrusted upperside makes it difficult to spot. The underside (in this photo) is beautifully pearly.
There were also many Frilly sea anemones and various sponges such as this Yellow pot sponge.
These anemone shrimps were found in a male-female pair in Haddon's carpet anemones and Giant carpet anemones on the shores.
The Sargassum seaweed is starting to bloom on the shore. There were also large bouquets of Halymenia red seaweed and fluffy bunches of Bryopsis green seaweeds. Seaweeds provide hiding places and food for small animals.
The large Fluted giant clam in deeper water was still there and doing well. Kok Sheng found it for me. I'm still having trouble walking in rubble.
Collin also found this Fluted giant clam near the high shore. This clam will be among the highlights of the upcoming public walks on the Sisters Island Marine Park.
We were treated to a marvelous sunrise!
There is another smaller lagoon on Sisters Island with Tape seagrass and Spoon seagrass. As well as lots of Common sea stars, which sadly are no longer as common as they used to be.
Kwan Siong explains the coral garden to the volunteers so we can share about it with our visitors.
On the way home, we had a look a the wonderful reefs at Big Sisters Island jetty. On the horizon is Little Sisters Island!
Today, there was good visibility! This is the view of the corals growing on the reef slope under the jetty!
Pei Yan aka Drone Commander took SG Sea Drone for a flight and got fabulous views of the two Sisters' Islands. Check them out on the SG Sea Drone facebook page. Here's the video clip of the awesome views taken by the Drone!
The Marine Park includes the Sisters' Islands and the western subtidal shores of Pulau Tekukor and St. John's Island as indicated on this diagram.
Diagram from the NParks website.
Want to come for public walks at Sisters Island? MORE dates are available! From the NParks website (also the link for online registration when registration opens).

DateTimeOnline registration* period
14 August 2014, Thursday
 7.30am - 9.30amFULLY BOOKED
15 August 2014, Friday
7.30am - 9.30amFULLY BOOKED
10 September 2014, Wednesday
6.00am - 8.30am

1 August 2014, 12.00am – 8 August, 11.59pm
11 September 2014, Thursday
6.00am - 8.30am

1 August 2014, 12.00am – 8 August, 11.59pm
23 November 2014, Sunday
4.30pm – 7.00pm

1 October 2014, 12.00am – 8 October 2014, 11.59pm

24 November 2014, Monday
5.00pm – 7.30pm

1 October 2014, 12.00am – 8 October 2014, 11.59pm

22 December 2014, Monday
5.00pm – 7.30pm

1 November 2014, 12.00am – 8 November 2014, 11.59pm

23 December 2014, Tuesday
5.00pm – 7.30pm

1 November 2014, 12.00am – 8 November 2014, 11.59pm

*Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis
**There are no tours in October as the tides are not favourable

I will be guiding on many of these dates, so hopefully, I would see you then?

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