24 April 2015

Berlayar Creek with special star and long driftnet

Today, I had a brief look at Berlayar Creek with Toh Yuet Hsin and her team from NParks who look after Labrador and the Creek.
So glad to see the seagrass patches are still there and that the rocky shores and sandy areas are still alive. Sadly, we saw and had to remove an abandoned driftnet.

The star of the day was the Galloping sea star. Which looks far more interesting on the underside.
The upperside is rather boring and camouflaged.
Today, I realised the sea star has bits sticking out of its body. So far, we've only seen this sea star at Sentosa, St John's Island and at Pulau Semakau.
It was good to see lots of life on the underside of the rocks. There were cowries, sponges, ascidians, barnacles and tiny crabs.
On the rocky shore, there were many little Onch slugs busy grazing on the tiny algae that coats the rocks.
I also saw many Frilly sea anemones. There were also some Banded bead anemones. On the rock in deeper water, we also saw a few sponges.
There are still lush patches of Spoon seagrasses although they have moved away from the mouth of the Creek towards the rocky areas north. In the seagrassy area, I saw a few Fan shells. We looked but couldn't find the Tape seagrass clumps we saw in deeper water in Feb 2013.
How nice to see several large Haddon's carpet anemones. We didn't see any shrimps in them, but all the anemones looked happy and unbleached.
Surprisingly, today we didn't come across many golf balls. On our last trip here in Feb 2013, this shore is covered in them, from the nearby Keppel Golf Club. Hopefully, this means the Club has done something to stop the inflow.
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the very low load of trash on this shore. Even though there is a well used boardwalk through the shore. I am starting to come to the conclusion that some of our dirtiest shores are due to lack of control of inflows of trash from fish farms and other industrial sources. And not solely due to irresponsible shore users.
Sadly, we came across a long abandoned driftnet. It started from the sand bar facing Sentosa and stretched northwards to Reflections by the Bay.
There were also a few traffic cones on the shore.
The net is probably about 50m long. It wasn't very new as it broke when I pulled at the nylon netting.
It took us a while to drag it onto the sand bar to cut it up and pack up in smaller pieces. Fortunately, we didn't come across any animals caught in the net.
These are then laboriously hauled out onto the high shore.
Thanks to Yuet Hsin and her team for being there to deal with the net!

At least the driftnetting problem at Berlayar Creek is far less than it used to be. We used to regularly see people putting up nets across the Creek, such as these people in Sep 2009 setting up a net in the water.
Another net was laid by them further away.
While yet another net was strung from tree to tree across the Creek.
The problem was that many of these nets were simply abandoned on the shore. The nets continue to trap animals until they are removed. The problem was so bad that a few of us decided to clear up the huge accumulation of abandoned nets in Nov 2007.
And again in  Dec 2007.
We have since started a blog dedicated just to abandoned nets called Project Driftnet.

There are way too many shores for the few of us to keep an eye on them all of the time. So if you spot anything wrong going on at a shore, please do let me know: Ria Tan hello@wildsingapore.com. Thank you!

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