31 August 2023

St John's Island still lively

A short boat ride from the Central Business District on the main island of Singapore, are the amazing living shores of St John's Island. Here, there are living rocky shores, reefs, seagrass meadows. 
A collage of photos shared by the team.
Links to their albums below.
The untouched western shore is part of the Sisters Islands Marine Park.  The team saw lots of small Diadema sea urchins, and small Arabian cowries. Always good to know that a shore is hospitable to young animals.

On a night trip, fishes are less shy and easier to photograph. The team didn't disappoint! They shared lots of photos of 'Nemos' (Clown anemonefishes) in both  Giant carpet anemones and Magnificent anemones! Che Cheng took the best video of them here. Kelvin encountered a Black tipped reef shark - video here! Arjun spotted a Spotted-tail frogfish! Other fishes seen included damselfishes, wrasse, filefishes and more.
Some other special finds by the team include some rarely seen animals like Zebra moon snail, Fuzzy reef crab, first sighting of Bayer's flatworm on this shore (in two colour forms?), Jewelled chiton, Pizza anemone and Bubble tip anemone.
I skipped the survey as I fell ill, but from the photos shared by the team, the overall coral situation seems similar to our last survey here in  Apr 2022. There are not a lot of hard corals on this shore, but those seem were most doing well. Most of the corals are common varieties that are seen on many of our shores: Most corals seen were the boulder-shaped varieties - some quite large and mostly well formed without any large dead patches. Also some plate forming and branching corals. Special corals seen included a circular mushroom coral. A variety of medium-sized colonies of leathery soft corals were seen, as well as Leathery sea fans. Only a few hard corals and leathery soft corals had pale or bleached portions.
In the sandy lagoons, the team saw many Common sea starsHaddon's carpet anemones with Peacocktail anemone shrimp, Cerianthids, Moon crabs and Fiddler crabs. One clump of Tape seagrass, was noted growing outside the eastern seawall, with rather short leaves (about 30cm), among Spoon seagrass similar to what I saw here in  Apr 2022
The team saw a long fish net laid across the mouth of the lagoon near the jetty. And a large fish trap on the reef edge on the natural reef.

St John's Island in the Singapore Blue Plan

The Singapore Blue Plan 2018 highlights the importance of St John's Island to our marine biodiversity.

The cluster of Kusu, Lazarus and St. John's Islands has been recommended by the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 for elevated protection status. The Blue Plan highlights that Lazarus, St. John’s, and Kusu Islands are established sites for coral nurseries as their shoreline offers ideal sheltered areas for growth of corals. Designating these islands as No-fishing Areas can bolster their rehabilitation.

Protecting a larger cluster of islands means 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 those on the survey

Kelvin Yong

Marcus Ng

Richard Kuah

James Koh

Che Cheng Neo

Arjun Sai Krishnan

Others on this trip: Tommy Arden


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