Mass coral bleaching in Singapore is not unexpected. From the NOAA's coral reef watch satellite monitoring, Singapore is in the blue Watch zone. But our corals are still bleaching.
Here's a clip of the mass coral bleaching on the shore today.
What is coral bleaching?
Coral are colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp lives inside a little hard skeleton. The huge colony is made up of the skeletons of countless polyps. The polyps of all reef-building hard corals harbour microscopic, single-celled algae (called zooxanthellae). The polyp provides the zooxanthellae with shelter and minerals. The zooxanthellae carry out photosynthesis inside the polyp and share the food produced with the polyp. Corals generally have white colour skeletons, which is believed to assist in photosynthesis by reflecting light onto the zooxanthellae.
Merulinid corals in the photos below. Cauliflower corals were still bleaching, we did not see any colonies that were NOT bleaching. But for most other corals, there were both colonies that were bleaching, and those that were not. Brain corals, which are usually all bleached, today I saw a few colonies (about 5%) that were not outright bleaching.
leathery soft corals we saw were alright, only about 40% were bleaching. But some of those that were not bleaching showed stress, with portions covered in silt or portions covered with peeling 'skin'. There were many Asparagus flowery soft corals that were not bleaching outright, although none were their usual unbleached purply colour.
Magnificent anemones on the shore and we did not see any that were bleaching. I saw one bleaching Giant carpet anemone and one bleaching Bubble tip anemone. None of the anemones I saw had fish or shrimps. Some clumps of zoanthids was bleaching. I saw one Frilly sea anemone that was not bleaching. I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone and it didn't look very well, but it was raining.
Pore corals and Branching montipora corals that were not bleaching. Much of the ground remained crumbly rubble and abundantly covered with Feathery soft corals, which were not bleaching.
Spoon seagrass and some clumps of Tape seagrass with somewhat cropped leaf blades (about 30cm long). On a positive note, the rest of the team saw two Fluted giant clams, a shark and many other marine critters.
Our last trip here was in Jan 2016 on a rather high tide. The corals were then still mostly alright. While there is not much we can do when our corals start bleaching, we can do a lot to stop other stresses that impact our reefs so the corals are in better health and don't succumb after bleaching.
Toward the end of our trip, it started to pour! Fortunately, it lightened up quickly and we even enjoyed a brief rainbow. Let's hope this shore stays safe until we visit again.
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.
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.|
High res photos of mass coral bleaching in Singapore for free download on wildsingapore flickr
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