19 June 2022

Terumbu Semakau still doing well

On a scorching morning, a small team surveys this submerged reef right next to Singapore's only landfill and near the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom (producing emissions that resembles clouds).
Living shores of Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
The corals are doing well, we see common reef life and the seagrass situation seems to be very slowly improving.

The edge facing the Landfill seawall and the natural shores of Pulau Semakau is still reefy.
Living shores of Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
There are many hard corals, mostly boulder shaped ones including many Brain corals. Some were quite large, including a large colony of Galaxy corals. One of the large Merulinid corals was pinkish (a sign of stress), and some of the large Boulder pore corals were pale brown. But I didn't see any corals that were outright bleaching.
There were also a lot of large healthy leathery soft corals of various kinds.
Living shores of Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
The most eye-poking animals on the shores were the Magnificent anemones. These anemones form clumps of many individuals. There were also many Giant carpet anemones. I saw one Bubble tip anemone but couldn't find the Merten's carpet anemone. I also didn't any anemonefishes. But I did see the usual nudibranchs commonly seen on our reefs, and one Leathery sea fan.
The seagrass situation seems similar to what I saw in Apr 2021 and 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.
Seagrasses at Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
There were many clumps of Tape seagrass with longish leaf blades especially those growing nearer the reef edge.
Seagrasses at Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
I saw many small clusters of Serrated ribbon seagrass that looked fresh and green.
Seagrasses at Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
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!
Thanks to team member Richard for bringing us to the shore. Here we are passing the untouched Pulau Jong.
Pulau Jong

What is the fate of Terumbu Semakau?

Terumbu Semakau lies next to the Semakau Landfill and close to the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
Terumbu Semakau and Pulau Jong will be impacted by the "Possible Future Reclamation" as outlined in the Long-Term Plan Review.

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.
Living shores of Terumbu Semakau, Jun 2022
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.

The Blue Plan highlights that Pulau Semakau and its associated patch reefs comprise many ecosystems: coral reefs, mangrove areas, intertidal sandflats, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. The subtidal area of Pulau Jong is larger than the terrestrial area. Pulau Hantu is a popular dive site has seen increasing interest in the past decade due to biodiversity awareness. If protection is accorded to these three islands, zonation plans for use can be implemented to manage tourism and human impacts.

DOWNLOAD the Plan, SUPPORT the Plan! More on the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 site.

Photos by others on this trip

James Koh

Tammy Lim

Richard Kuah

Others on this survey: Kelvin Yong


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