10 February 2016

Checking up on Cyrene

Lunar New Year follows the lunar cycle. So of course there is a low spring tide on Day 1 and Day 2 of every Lunar New Year. Thus, we have an excuse to escape our relatives and visit a shore instead!
Yesterday, we surveyed Cyrene Reef on a cool overcast afternoon. Although it is very close to major industrial areas in Singapore, this submerged reef has some of Singapore's best seagrass meadows and amazing marine biodiversity. How are the seagrasses doing? Are there signs of coral bleaching?

Cyrene lies in the middle of the industrial triangle made up of the massive industries on Jurong Island, huge refineries on Pulau Bukom and the world-class container terminals at Pasir Panjang.
Despite its location, Cyrene has lush seagrass meadows teeming with life! Cyrene is particularly famous for its population of Knobbly sea stars. It is one of the few shores in Singapore where we can commonly see both adult and baby Knobbly sea stars. Lisa also saw one Pentaceraster sea star.
Baby Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)
Here's a glimpse at some of the creatures commonly seen here: from tiny Thorny sea urchins to slugs and large hermit crabs.
Various seagrass creatures
And a glimpse at Mrs and Mr Anemone shrimp! Often a pair of these Five-spot anemone shrimps can be found in these anemones.
Five-spot anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) on Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni)
Among the interesting creatures was a tiny Broadclub cuttlefish!
Broadclub cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)
The explosion of Forskal's sidegill slugs that we saw on our last trip here in Dec 2015 seems to be over. Although I still saw a few small individuals and their egg ribbons.
The sandy shores of Cyrene are also teeming with life. These include some rare snails like the Grey bonnet snail and Orange-mouth olive snail. There were still lots of Common sea stars and Cake sand dollars everywhere on the sandy shores.
Rare snails on the sandy shores of Cyrene Reef
I found this little Tailed-slug on the sand bar. When I put it into the water, it immediately started to burrow into the sand! I didn't know it could do that.
Reticulated tailed slug (Philinopsis reticulata)
The brittle star is among the most energetic of echinoderms and can move rapidly using its sinuous arms.
Flat-armed brittle star

How are the seagrasses of Cyrene doing?

On our last trip here in Dec 2015, I was heartened to see first signs of recovery in seagrasses at Cyrene. Now, two months later, much of the Tape seagrass are still cropped short.
And there were patches of brown fluffy stuff on the seagrasses.
But it was great to see longer Tape seagrasses in the deep pool in the middle of the Reef!
Seagrasses growing in deep pool at Cyrene Reef
There were a few Sickle seagrasses that were flowering! And the Smooth ribbon seagrasses are now found in a large area in the middle of the Reef.
As we depart at sunset, we notice flaring has started up at the petrochemical plants on nearby Pulau Bukom.
Flaring at petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom
Let's hope Cyrene stays safe until our next survey.

Photos by others on this trip


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