05 June 2015

Coral overdose on Kusu Island

The edges of Kusu Island are crowded with all kinds of corals and marine life.
I was relieved to see no coral bleaching at this shore that suffered from oil spill impact last year.

In the glow of the Central Business District just minutes away, a small team surveys Kusu Island.
I spent most of the trip just getting high on corals at sunrise.
There is a rich reef at the edge of the island outside the seawalls.
In full daylight, it's hard to capture the beautiful colours of the corals.
Here's a feeble attempt.
At low tide, the corals at the edge of the reef create calm waters.
A view of the reef edge outside the seawall. On the horizon is the artificial island Seringat-Kias created by burying two submerged reefs: Seringat and Kias.
Here's a look at some of the corals found at Kusu Island.
It has been very hot lately, which makes us worry about coral bleaching. So we also checked for this during our trip. Here's the latest Bleaching Alert Areas from the NOAA website. Singapore falls in the 'Watch' status. What is coral bleaching and why this is of concern on the Bleach Watch Singapore blog. Fortunately, we didn't see many corals bleaching today at Kusu Island.

from the NOAA Coral Reef Watch website.
There are many of these large sea anemones, and for the first time, I saw them crowded together. The Magnificent sea anemone (with purple body column) and Giant carpet anemone. The rest of the team saw 'Nemo's in them, but I failed to find any.
Inside the lagoon along the seawall, there are also some hard corals. There are fewer branching corals than in the past. Much of the area has been taken over by Ulva green seaweed and other seaweeds. The seaweed bloom appears to be much more than what we saw in Jan 2015, now covering nearly half the lagoon.
We were glad to see some small clumps of branching corals are still here.
This is what I saw in Jun 2012.
On the sandy area, I saw a Fire anemone. There were also many Common sea stars and a few small Cake sand dollars. We also saw some moon snails.
There are still small patches of Needle seagrass and Spoon seagrass with tiny leaf blades. There were many small Haddon's carpet anemones but no shrimps. The seagrasses were full of Bazillion snails. I saw one large Garlic bread sea cucumber.
Just as we were leaving, we saw this large jellyfish under the jetty.
At night the park-like area on the high shore is crawling with busy Land hermit crabs. I didn't have the energy to check out the sea turtles in the temple but the rest said they were still there. The rest also saw the Fluted giant clam but I missed it.
Alas, there was a long abandoned net near the corals. But it is already falling apart and encrusted with life. So we left it behind. We were glad not to see any large debris such as mattresses and bed that were seen on past trips. Thanks to Sentosa for removing them.
The sun was scorching even before 9am. The waters got busy with humungous vessels passing by to reach Tanjung Pagar Container Terminal.
These Kusu shores were impacted by the oil spill in Jan 2014 which was documented by Kok Sheng, Pei Yan and Chay Hoon. I saw traces of the oil spill in May 2014, but none since then.
Oil spill impact on the Kusu Island swimming lagoon.
Photo by Loh Kok Sheng shared on his blog
Kusu Island today was created by reclaiming reef flats to make the picnicking area that we see today. The original Kusu Island above water was much tinier, the only parts sticking at high tide being the area where the temple and shrines are. Here's a photo of the island before reclamation taken by Dr Ivan Polunin.
If you want to find out more about Kusu and our other islands, come for the awesome Island Nation's launch tomorrow!

Date: 6 June 2015
Location: National Library, Level 10
Sign Up Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407188689589602/

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