On one of the last morning low spring tides of the year, we land at first light on a tiny submerged reef next to Pulau Hantu.
The reef edge opposite Pulau Hantu has lots of large colonies of common corals. As well as a few less commonly seen ones. Although I didn't see mass coral bleaching, some of the large colonies had large dead patches. The large (about 5m long) colony of Galaxy coral was mostly dead. But the Acropora corals growing in the boat strike 'hole' is still doing well. Our last survey was in Jul 2020 to check for coral bleaching. We did not see mass coral bleaching then.
Cushion stars (the team saw several), colourful little nudibranchs. At the reef edge there were many Diadema urchins. Besides the many Blue-spotted fantail rays, I saw saw several large Carpet eel blennies. I also saw colourful reef crabs like the Mosaic crab and Saw-edged spooner crab. I saw one Merten's carpet anemone (it had a little male anemoneshrimp) and one Bubble tip anemone (I thought I saw a flash of Tomato anemonefish). There were also some Giant carpet anemones (Che Cheng saw anemonefishes) and Frilly anemones. Unfortunately, none of us saw giant clams.
Tape seagrass that I saw were mostly cropped short, similar to our survey in Jun 2018. Although team members did see some with longer leaves (about 30cm), like on our last survey in Jul 2020.
What is the fate of Terumbu Hantu?
Pulau Hantu and all the terumbus west of it are slated for massive reclamation outlined recently in the Long-Term Plan Review. Singapore's submerged reefs are often out of sight under the high tide and thus forgotten. Let's hope Terumbu Hantu 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.
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 survey
Che Cheng Neo