15 May 2017

Changi five months after the oil spill

For the first time, I survey these Changi shores at low spring tide. They were impacted five months ago by the 300-tonne oil spill in the East Johor Strait, My last survey of this series of shores was in Mar 2017 two months after the oil spill at a low neap tide which doesn't expose much of the shore..
Seagrass meadows at Changi Creek
At low spring tide, I could see more of the shore. The seagrasses are no longer bleaching! And I saw some of the usual animals, although the shore is less lively than usual. I also checked out Changi Creek, the mangroves up the Creek and shores at Carpark 3. I did not see any signs of massive oil spill impact.

The Changi Creek seagrass meadows were lush and green.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis)
All Spoon seagrass, mostly fresh and green and not covered with epiphytes.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis)
The last time I surveyed this shore at low spring tide was in Jun 2016, before the oil spill. I saw a few carpet anemones, most were Haddon's and one looked like a Mini carpet anemone.
One of the Haddon's carpet anemones had a tiny shrimp living in it. It looks a little different from the  usual kind.
I saw one medium sized Biscuit sea star. The seagrasses were dotted with small Warty pink sea cucumbers. I saw a few Orange sea cucumbers. But I didn't see any Thorny sea cucumbers. The sand bar was dotted with buried Ball sea cucumbers. On my last trip in Jun 2016 I saw larger numbers and a wider variety of echinoderms.
I saw two Cerianthids in the seagrass meadows, one with Phoronid worms. I also saw two Flowery sea pens. On the rocky shores I saw two small Pink flowery soft corals, one washed up sea fan. There were some small patches of Zebra coral. On my last trip in Jun 2016 I saw more sea fans and Zebra corals.
The rocky shores there were dotted with marine life and much was covered in Melted chocolate sponge.
Living rocky shore of Changi Creek
The rocks were still lively at the high water mark. Some had patches of Little black nesting mussels. One Spiral melogena was eating them, and I saw some of their egg cases. There were many Drills and clusters of them were laying eggs. There were many Banded bead anemones and I saw some Onch slugs.
The most abudant animals on the rocky shore were Melted chocolate sponge coating the rocks on the low water mark, and Button zoanthids on the higher shore in one corner.
At the low water mark on the rocks I saw several different kinds of sponges, but only one or two clumps of each kind. There were also many Thumbs-up sea squirts and Yellow clustered bead ascidians. Surprisingly, I only saw one Branching purple sponge, which is usually the most abundant sponge on this shore.
On the sandy areas and among the seagrasses, it was good to see many different kinds of buried worms on the shore. Including Solitary tubeworms and other more colonial tubeworms. As well as holes made by mystery burrowing animals. It suggests the ground is not heavily polluted.
As the tide turned, I didn't see any signs of sheen on the water or puddles of oil collecting on the waterline.
Seagrass meadows at Changi Creek
The little mangrove sapling on the seawall that was somewhat oiled, seems fine now!
Sapling that was oiled seems fine
Sadly, as usual, there remained a line of plastic litter along the mid-water mark. Many were coated in oil and this will remain a source of oil pollution until they are removed. Although this beach is cleaned everyday, only the high tide line is cleaned.
The area on the high shore where water drains out onto the shore is clear of trapped oil.
Drain outlet to shore clear of oil
I didn't see any otters today, but did see a sign about what to do if we encounter otters. That's great. Although the sign is a little high up on the pole and hard to read.
What to do if you encounter otters
After the tide turned, I headed out to check Changi Creek itself. The bare patch of grass on the high shore affected by oil spill cleanup is now green again.
Grass patch no longer bare
The mudflats and seawall looks normal and I didn't see any signs of sheen. Although there is still the stain of oil on the drain wall.
Changi Creek sea walls
The boom across the drain has been untied, but is still left on the shore. Another boom near the bridge is still there. Why are they not properly disposed?
The mangrove trees and saplings growing at the mouth of the Creek near the Ferry Terminal seem alright. In fact, one of them was in full blooming.
Saplings at Changi Creek
There is a 'jetty' next to the Ferry Terminal. This 'jetty' is still well used by fish farmers. It was very busy as the tide was coming in.
Changi Creek Jetty still well used by fish farmers, May 2017
I headed upstream to the mangroves at Changi Creek. It is very close to Changi Airport!
Airplane over Changi Creek mangroves
Next to a busy four-lane road, the mangroves looked alright. No massive yellowing leaves or bare branches.
Changi Creek mangroves
Most of the Bakau kurap trees were producing propagules that were nice and long. I didn't see any propagules with odd colours. I also saw two Api-api putih trees that were blooming profusely.
But I only saw a few saplings higher upstream. Most of the other saplings are no longer there.
Saplings at Changi Creek mangroves
I saw two Giant mudskippers, one Blue-spotted mudskipper and many small fishes swimming in the water. Some parts of the mud stream banks had Leaf oysters that seemed alive.
At Changi Beach near Carpark 3, the oiled stakes and geobags are still there and still falling apart.
Oil-covered stakes at Changi Point
Amazingly, I still saw living barnacles and some living Periwinkle snails on the stakes!
Erosion still happening behind the stakes. When are they going to realise this is not working?
Oil-covered stakes at Changi Point
It's a relief to see the shores did not seem too badly affected by the oil spill so far.

Abel Yeo surveyed this shore on 28 May and saw sea fans and a variety of marine life.

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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