25 January 2016

Wet and windy at Pulau Semakau East

A glorious crispy blue sky on a windy day as we head out to check up on eastern Pulau Semakau.
This natural shore has lots of Magnificent anemones and other reeflife! It was a relief that we didn't see coral bleaching on the shore.

On this trip, Kok Sheng has a plan to get us to explore this shore more thoroughly by landing at a new spot. Our last trip here was in July 2015.
First off the boat are the tall people and people who suffer from sea sickness. We know it's a special trip when we get wet underpants.
Photo by Loh Kok Sheng.
Then the short people. Since I walk with a walking stick, it turned out I was the steadiest of the lot! Some people, instead of helping, are taking unglam photos of us. Because it was so windy, we got totally soaked on the way back at the end of the trip.
Photo by Geraldine Lee.
This shore lies just opposite the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
Despite this, there are corals and reef life here.
Here's a glimpse of the shore.
Living shores of Pulau Semakau East
This shore is simply exploding with Magnificent sea anemones. There appear to be even more now here than I saw on our last trip in July 2015!
Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica) at Pulau Semakau
The most delightful encounter was with a Clown anemonefish in a Giant sea anemone!
False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) in Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
I wonder though, why none of the Magnificent anemones I saw had a clown anemonefish?

With so much news these days about changing climate, from freezing in China, huge snowfalls in Washington DC, I worry about coral bleaching and other climate impacts on our shores. The outlook for Jan-Apr 2016 by the NOAA is horrifying!
Fortunately, the actual bleaching status for Singapore is still ok. We are not in the Watch zone (yet?).
I did come across some soft corals that were 'neon' in colour. Many of the Asparagus flowery soft corals I saw were neon pink and green. I saw one green leathery soft coral and one small patch of zoanthids that were neon green. Are these colours a sign of stress?
I only saw a few corals with small patches of bleaching. I did not come across any that were completely bleaching.
Most of the hard corals I saw were normal. Including many Cauliflower corals, which were the first to bleach previously.
This is the bleaching I saw on this shore in June 2010, taken from Terumbu Semakau. I hope this doesn't happen again this year!
On the way out for our trip, we admire the reef fishes among the corals growing on the sides of the pontoon at Marina at Keppel Bay!
The corals growing at the Marina were all doing well. I didn't see any that were bleaching.
I see these Posy sea anemones more commonly in the North. But I often see these on this part of Pulau Semakau. Perhaps this is because this shore is fringed by mangroves? So much more to learn about our shores!
I saw a few clumps of Tape seagrass, most were cropped. And the upper shore was sprinkled with Spoon seagrasses with tiny leaf blades.

Pulau Semakau is NOT the same as the Semakau Landfill. The Landfill was created by destroying all of Pulau Saking, and about half of the original Pulau Semakau by building a very long seawall. Fortunately, the landfill was constructed and is managed in such a way that the original mangroves, seagrass meadows and reefs on Pulau Semakau were allowed to remain. The eastern shore of Pulau Semakau is right next to the seawall of the Semakau Landfill, opposite the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
It is NOT true that the construction of the Landfill created the marine life found on Pulau Semakau. The marine life was there long before the Landfill was built.
As the existing half of the Landfill was used up, the Phase 2 of the Landfill was just recently launched. This involved closing the gap of the seawall on the Semakau Landfill, forming one big pool where incinerated ash will be dumped. NEA worked to limit the damage to natural shores during the construction work for this expansion of the landfill.

The 2030 Landuse Plan by the Ministry of National Development released in Jan 2013 shows plans for 'possible future reclamation' (in light blue surrounded by dotted lines) that may impact the eastern shore of Pulau Semakau. More about the possible impact of the 2030 Landuse Plan on our shores.
Click on image for larger view.
Click on image for larger view.
Let's hope these shore will be spared this fate.

It's sunset and almost time to go home! Here's a view of eastern Semakau shore with the Semakau Landfill wall and Transfer Station on the horizon.
Let's hope this shore stays safe until we visit again.

Photos by others on this trip

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