20 May 2018

Next to the landfill, amazing living reefs at Terumbu Semakau!

Right next to the Landfill, there are rich living reefs on Terumbu Semakau!
Living reefs of Terumbu Semakau, May 2018
Teeming with corals, fishes and other special creatures. Today we saw seahorses, clown anemonefishes, giant clams, tiger cowrie and more!

Here's some highlights of what I saw.
Living reefs of Terumbu Semakau, May 2018
Among the amazing colourful animals here are large Magnificent sea anemones. These animals clone themselves and thus often found in clusters of individuals with similarly coloured body columns. There were also many Giant carpet anemones. Some had clown anemonefishes, although they were very shy. I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone and one Merten's carpet anemone.
Kok Sheng captured these lovely Tomato anemonefishes who live in Bubble tip sea anemones. The rest of the team also spotted seahorses.
The Burrowing giant clam is still there. The rest of the team also saw a Fluted giant clam. And I came across a Tiger cowrie.
I saw two small Leathery sea fans. I saw many large Leathery soft corals and Asparagus flowery soft corals and they all were alright.
 There were many Brain corals. Most seemed alright.
 Also many corals that are leafy like Lettuce coral and Carnation coral.
Many corals that succumb early to bleaching were present and looked well. This included Anchor corals, Acropora corals, Disk corals. There were also Moon corals, Pebble corals, Anemone corals and Galaxy corals. I also saw many Sandpaper corals and Cauliflower corals that were alright, just forgot to take photos of them!
But some of the Boulder pore corals were very pale.
The big patch of Branching montipora is dead and seaweeds have grown on the skeletons. But I notice a few clumps of new coral growing.
Seaweeds growing on dead Branching montipora coral (Montipora sp.)
There were many colourful sponges of all kinds as well as sprinkles of colourful ascidians. Some of the team saw interesting nudibranchs!
I sense that the seagrasses may be slowly coming back. Although heavily covered with epiphytes, there was good cover of Spoon seagrasses on many of the pools in the middle of the reef flat.
Seagrasses on Terumbu Semakau, May 2018
There were many clumps of Tape seagrass with longish leaf blades. Although also many clumps with short cropped leaves.
Seagrasses on Terumbu Semakau, May 2018
I saw many small clusters of Serrated ribbon seagrass that looked fresh and green.
Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata)
Although some of the Spoon seagrasses that were not covered with epiphytes were bleaching.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) bleaching
There used to be lush seagrass meadows on Terumbu Semakau. Here's what the seagrass meadows looked like when we visited in June 2010. Let's hope the seagrasses will return soon!
When we returned to the boat Alex said he spotted a sea turtle. We are glad on this trip, we didn't come across any nets or traps like we did in Aug 2017. Let's  hope it stays safe until we can visit again.

On the way home, Alex pointed out six large fishing boats that are equipped to do trawl fishing in the deep sea. Oh dear.
Deep sea fishing vessel at Singapore port

Terumbu Semakau lies next to the Semakau Landfill and close to the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
Terumbu Semakau is one of the existing natural shores that may be impacted by the landuse plan by the Ministry of National Development released in Jan 2013 in response to the Populations White Paper with a 6.9 million population target. The dotted margined blue areas are "Possible Future Reclamation".
The other shores impacted by this plan include Pulau Jong, Pulau Hantu, Terumbu Pempang Darat, Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Terumbu Pempang Laut.
Singapore's submerged reefs are often out of sight under the high tide and thus forgotten. Let's hope Terumbu Semakau stays safe until we can visit again.
Photos by others on this trip

Richard Kuah saw a seahorse

More photos by Richard Kuah

By Kok Sheng

By Lisa Lim

Meanwhile, Chay Hoon surveyed Changi shore


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