11 February 2024

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, we did our survey with permission from NParks. 
Living shores of Big Sisters Island, Feb 2024
It was a super windy day, which made it challenging to view anything under water! But the corals seem well, we were glad to see the Giant clam and other interesting marine life.

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. The latest Google Earth images show the newly constructed boardwalk! Big Sisters Island will reopen to the public in 2024, we won't spoil the surprise.
It was very challenging to check up on the corals as the very strong wind ruffled the water and the tide wasn't super low. Hence blurry underwater shots. I did see many healthy hard corals. Mostly boulder shaped ones, but also many plate corals. There were also many small colonies on the artificial seawall. I didn't see any bleaching colonies. Kelvin and Russel spotted Mushroom corals.
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 the  patch seems to be more sparse than on our Jan 2023 survey, the corals are still healthy looking.

I saw a good variety of leathery soft corals with some medium-sized healthy colonies.
Giant carpet anemones remain abundant - but I didn't see any with 'Nemo'. I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone with anemoneshrimp.
We only saw one Giant clam today: the big (40cm) one in the big lagoon. It seems to be doing well. I nearly missed it as it was still submerged when I was near it, and hard to spot in the wind-ruffled waters. Kelvin took a better shot of it when the tide fell after sunset. In the highish water, I saw a small shark, some stingrays and other large fishes, but didn't get any photos.
More on the NParks website about what you can see and do at our Sisters Islands Marine Park.

More photos by others on the survey

Kelvin Yong

Liz Lim

Marcus Ng

Richard Kuah

Chay Hoon

Russel Low on his Singapore Reef Watch

Vincent Choo

Tommy Arden


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