13 March 2017

Changi two months after the oil spill, with baby otters!

Two months after the 300-tonne oil spill in the East Johor Strait, there is still oil and sheen on seagrass meadows in the bay at Changi Creek. The seagrasses here are still bleaching.
Oil and sheen still on the shore at Changi
It was a treat to see the otter family with their recently born pups at the beach! These babies will have to learn to survive on our shores that are impacted by oil spills, marine litter and many other human caused dangers.

There are less visible signs of the oil spill at Changi Creek near the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. It looked beautiful this sunny afternoon from the footbridge across the Creek.
Changi Creek footbridge
Mangrove saplings near the seawalls of Changi Creek seem to be alright.
Mangrove saplings at Changi Creek
The boom across the drain leading to Changi Creek is still there.
Oil boom still at Changi Creek
So is the abandoned boom on the main Changi Creek near the big road bridge.
Oil boom still at Changi Creek
In the Creek, a kingfisher and heron were hunting.
Collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) and Striated heron (Butorides striata)
At Changi Creek mangroves, there is a sprinkling of yellow leaves on some of the big trees, but most of the trees looked alright to me.
Changi Creek mangroves
Some of the mangrove trees were heavy with seedlings. None of the seedlings were of an abnormal colour.
Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata)
At Changi Beach nearby, the oiled stakes plus bags that appear to be some sort of erosion control are unchanged from our last visit. If anything, the arrangement appears to be falling apart even more.
Oil-covered stakes at Changi Point
The arrangement is certainly not stopping erosion.
Oil-covered stakes at Changi Point
And the bags are disintegrating and littering the beach.
Oil-covered stakes at Changi Point
The oiled Periwinkle snails are still on the oiled stakes!
Oiled unidentified Rock periwinkle snails (Family Littorinidae)
The seagrass meadows at Changi Creek are still lush and mostly green.
Seagrasses 'bleaching' at Changi Creek after oil spill
But tips and outer edges of some seagrass leaves are bleached.
Seagrasses 'bleaching' at Changi Creek after oil spill
With more patches of badly bleached seagrasses around the corner at the bay opposite Changi SAF chalets.
Seagrasses 'bleaching' at Changi Creek after oil spill
There was still patches of oil and sheen in the bay over the seagrass meadows. Here's a video of it.
Oil and sheen still seen on Changi
And some oil on the sandy beach. But the big hole on the high shore coated oil that we saw during last month's survey was no longer there.
Oil and sheen still on the shore at Changi
Nevertheless, there was still life on the shores. The rockier areas had ascidians, snails, their living eggs, onch slugs, barnacles, oysters and tiny mussels.
I saw a few washed up sponges, one Stone crab. Large areas of the sand was studded with Banded bead anemones, Alyce found three Haddon's carpet anemones that were not bleaching, and the field of zoanthids in one corner of the bay seemed alright. I also a sand collar of a Moon snail.
But the highlight of the trip was to see a family of otters with their pups. The bumboat operators told me the parents have been at the Creek trying to teach the babies how to swim.
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
Otters love to roll around on the sand. Here's one rolling  about near the oil-stained shrubs.
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
Here's adults with one of the adorable pups.
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
Oil, marine litter, fishing nets are among the many human threats that the baby otters face as they grow up.
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
I hope they will stay well until our next survey.

Posts about the Jan 2017 Johor Strait oil spill

Survey on 10 Feb, one month after the oil spill
Other surveys and news posts


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