Jul 2020, just after lockdown was lifted, and when we got the alert that signs of mass coral bleaching were noted during the lockdown. Today, I saw lots of healthy corals, interesting marine life and more signs of a return of seagrasses.
It was a relief to see healthy hard corals and leathery soft corals! At the reef edge, there not many bright white colonies.
Anchor corals, Cauliflower corals, Brain corals.
Pore corals that were very pale or pinkish. And I saw a few other others with pale or small bleaching portions. But I didn't any mass coral bleaching.Asparagus flowery soft corals, and many leathery soft corals. They were alright.Magnificent anemones. These anemones form clumps. There were also some Giant carpet anemones. I saw the rarer Merten's carpet anemone (with an anemone fish in it) and also a Bubble tip anemone (also with movement of an anemonefish in the tentacles).
One of these things is not a hard coral. It is a cushion star - a sea star with arms that are so short, and a huge body, so the entire animal is almost globular!Burrowing giant clam is still there, but we didn't manage to find any Fluted giant clams. There were many colourful crabs, and many small fishes. There were lots of squids zooming around leaving blobs of ink in their panic. I couldn't manage a photo of them, but I did come across squid egg capsules laid on some branching sponges. I also saw a few Diadema sea urchins tucked under large rocks. The only nudibranch I saw is the commonly seen Phyllid nudibranch.
Jul 2020 and May 2019, i.e., slowly improving. Although heavily covered with epiphytes, there was good cover of Spoon seagrasses in many of the pools in the middle of the reef flat.
Tape seagrass with longish leaf blades especially those growing nearer the reef edge.
Serrated ribbon seagrass that looked fresh and green.
June 2010. Let's hope the seagrasses will return soon!
Fate of Terumbu Semakau?
Terumbu Semakau lies next to the Semakau Landfill and close to the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
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.
The Singapore Blue Plan 2018
Pulau Semakau and nearby islands and submerged reefs have been recommended by the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 for Immediate Conservation Priority.
The Blue Plan recommends the intertidal and subtidal marine areas of Pulau Semakau and adjacent Pulau Hantu, and Pulau Jong to be designated Marine Reserve.
DOWNLOAD the Plan, SUPPORT the Plan! More on the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 site.
Photos by others on this survey
James Koh on flickr
Others on the survey: Juria Toramae