23 January 2023

Paying respects to our Big Sister

It has become our tradition to survey Big Sister's Island during the Lunar New Year. Part of Singapore's first Marine Park, the island is closed for enhancement works till end March 2024. We did our survey with permission from NParks.
Living shores of Big Sisters Island, Jan 2023
The shores seem to be well, with corals and lots of colourful marine life still thriving here.

Most of the shores on both Big and Small Sisters' Islands were reclaimed: seawalls were built on the reef edge and the reef flat buried. The original islands were much tinier. Most of Big Sister's Island is ringed by artificial seawalls, which create two swimming lagoons. Since the reclamation, living corals have returned in the big lagoon of Big Sisters Island.
We only saw two Giant clams today. The big (40cm) one in the big lagoon seems to be doing well. Che Cheng found a tiny (15cm) one in the area. We didn't find the others that we saw our last survey in Feb 2022, although the shells of a dead one was seen. All photos by Che Cheng.
Jianlin found lots of nudibranchs and slugs and flatworms. He also spotted for the first time, Phidiana bourailli (3mm) featured in the centre of this montage of his photos.
I saw a good variety of healthy hard corals.There were also many small colonies on the artificial seawall. I didn't see any bleaching colonies, although there were a few pale Boulder pore corals. Seems to be an improvement over our last survey in Feb 2022, when I saw many colonies that were pale, with pale or bleaching portions, and some colonies were fully pale.
First seen on our last survey in Feb 2022, the large patch (about 10m x 5m) of Branching montipora corals in the middle of the large lagoon is still there. Though it seems to be a little smaller, the corals are still healthy looking.
Branching montipora coral (Montipora sp.)
There remains a good variety of leathery soft corals with many large healthy colonies.
Giant carpet anemones remain abundant - I saw one with a 'Nemo' which refused to come out for a photo. There were also some Haddon's carpet anemones, some with anemoneshrimp. Also many Frilly anemones, and I saw one Wiggly reef anemone. The patch of Ridged corallimorphs is still there. The rest of the team also saw a Leathery sea fan
Kelvin saw Anemonefishes sheltering while their anemone home was out of water during low tide. We commonly see this situation.

The only seagrass I saw was the clump of Tape seagrass in the small lagoon, which remains cropped. Unlike at our last survey, I didn't see any Common sea stars and Cake sand dollars here. Although I did see one Oval moon snail.
Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides)
Kelvin flew the drone and got some great views as usual. A different perspective!

Photos by others on this survey

Che Cheng Neo

Jianlin Liu

James Koh

Liz Lim

Tammy Lim

Vincent Choo

Kelvin Yong

Other shores surveyed uring this low spring tide cycle

Loh Kok Sheng surveyed Changi on 24 Jan

Jianlin Liu also surveyed Changi on 24 Jan


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