10 April 2024

Cyrene with Giant sea stars, Giant clams and signs of dugong

We arrive at Cyrene well before dawn for the first morning survey of the year. Although Cyrene lies in the middle of an industrial triangle, it still has some of Singapore's most amazing shores.
Living shores of Cyrene, Apr 2024
We saw dugong feeding trails, many large Knobbly sea stars, several Giant clams. The corals seem to be doing well. While the seagrass situation has not recovered, we sense an improvement.

Today, we saw 3 Fluted giant clams. The one near the beacon which we have seen before: a huge one about 40cm nearer Pulau Bukom. I couldn't find the smaller one about 30cm nearer Pasir Panjang Container Terminal. Kelvin and some of the team saw the large one on the Western end nearer Jurong Island that we have seen before, and the team also saw a slightly smaller one that we have not seen for a while.
Today, the team combined saw three clusters of Knobbly sea stars. I totally missed the cluster near the beacon, but Kok Sheng saw them there. The rest of the team also saw clusters on the Western end and middle of Cyrene. Jonathan spotted a young Pentaceraster sea star which we have not seen here since 2017. He also saw a young Knobbly sea star - which suggests new populations are starting to settle. I also saw many Common sea stars in mating position - arms interlocking. Hope we have lots of new baby sea stars here.
The rest of the team saw all the special stuff! It was good to see once again, the humungous sidegill slugs that we used to encounter here. They were mating and laying egg ribbons! Everyone saw Grey bonnet snails and small White sea urchins. Kok Sheng also spotted snails hidden in soft coral. Rachael saw a Violet brittlestar and Chay Hoon saw Keyhole sand dollars. Fish are more active and less shy during a night visit! Here's some of the colourful ones that Kok Sheng and Rachael saw. 
Montage of photos by Kok Sheng and Racheal.
Links to their albums below.
There's never been a lot of hard corals on Cyrene since we first started surveying it. Mostly boulder shaped species, some were very large (nearly 1m in diameter). I didn't see any that were bleaching although a few had small white patches. This is similar to what I saw on our last survey in Apr 2024 and Sep 2022.
Near the beacon, I saw many medium-sized to large colonies of leathery soft corals of various kinds. And some large flowery soft corals as well as three large Leathery sea fan. I didn't see any that were bleaching.
The seagrass cover on Cyrene has grown very thin compared to the past. But I still I saw some more obvious furrows that look like they were made by feeding dugong in the seagrasses facing Pasir Panjang Container Terminals. The trails were obvious even at first light! These trails are formed when dugongs chomp up seagrasses including their roots, leaving a shallow meandering furrow of about equal width and depth. I saw similar trails on our last survey here in Apr 2023Sep 2022Dec 2021 and Aug 2021.
There was still good seagrass cover on the Eastern end of Cyrene facing the container terminal. Mostly Spoon seagrass and other shorter seagrasses. Tape seagrasses were few and far between, with short leaf blades. Some patches were heavily covered in ascidians or mat-like epiphytes. The deep pool in the middle of Cyrene is becoming more shallow. It used to be thick with long Tape seagrass. These disappeared about 10 years ago. Today, there is thin cover of a variety of short seagrasses. But no long Tape seagrasses. This is similar to what I saw on our last survey in Apr 2023 and Sep 2022
Cyrene (Terumbu Pandan) is a submerged reef that lies in the middle of an industrial triangle of Container Terminal and petrochemical plants on Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom, as well as major shipping lanes!

Photos by others on the survey

Loh Kok Sheng

Rachael Goh

Kelvin Yong

Marcus Ng

Tommy Arden

Chay Hoon

Tammy Lim

Ng Leekiang

Others on this survey: Jonathan Tan


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