Mar 9, 2009

Cyrene Reef (9 Mar 09)

A few hours to go before the TeamSeagrass trip to Cyrene Reef today, and the prognosis for the weather is bleak.On the NEA webpage of rain locations, a giant mass of wetness enveloped the entire island. And on other weather websites, the Mother of All Clouds stretched from Sumatra to Johor. This doesn't look good.

But for TeamSeagrass, the mantra is "When it's low, We GO!". So long as there's no high winds or lightning, which there wasn't.
Melvin was ready, we were ready, the tide was low. And so what if needly hard little drops of water were relentlessly falling from the sky? Hah! we say. The tricky landing is as usual, done with great style and safety, thanks to Melvin.And in no time, the Team was ashore, equipment all laid out and ready for action.I joined Leon and Joe at Site 2, the further site. At the next transect was Shawn Lum, who kindly not only made the time to join us on the trip, but also did monitoring as we were down a few hands. Wei Ling and Kok Sheng are with him at Transect 1. Meanwhile Marcus and Dawn are doing Transect 3.Alas, on the way to our site, we noticed a lot of the seagrasses had black portions. Much like what the Seagrass Angels saw at Labrador. Were the seagrasses burnt by the very hot weather recently?

All to soon, the monitoring was done and we were off to explore this fantastic reef in the middle of a triangle made up of our world class container port at Pasir Panjang, and the petrochemical plants at Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island. Despite this, Cyrene Reef has not only vast living seagrass meadows, but also living reefs! With large hard and soft corals. Here's more about Cyrene Reefs.The reefs shelter creatures such as this brightly coloured Mosaic reef crab (Lophozozymus pictor). It is Singapore's most toxic crab and should not be eaten!Marcus spotted this well camouflaged Leaf slug (Elysia ornata)!
And of course, Cyrene Reef is home to countless Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus).

The others also saw the Pentaceraster sea stars (Pentaceraster mammilatus). As well as a strange sea cucumber, an odd snail, a very long ribbon worm, a Snaky anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) and other animals. Read more about them on Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog.

Sadly, we came across several soft corals that appear recently broken off their hard mounts. Recently, because they seemed otherwise unharmed and still alive.
Soft corals grow on hard surfaces such as coral rubble. So it is not natural to see them upside down like this.Here are several others also seen loose and upside down.

Other disturbing encounters included many fish traps on the lush shores.Two men came on their sampan to check on their fish traps.Aside from the fish traps, Cyrene is also next to a project involving massive dredging, laying of "small rocks" for some sort of communications or supply line between Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom. That seems to be the dredger in the background. Cyrene Reefs is also near the humungous reclamation project to build a new container terminal near Labrador Nature Reserve.

As the tide turned, the weather eased to a mizzle (miserable drizzle).
It was time to go home.
The Chair marks the departure point. And as we wait for Melvin to brave the now high waves to reach the shore, we find some novel uses for it.It's great for a short snooze.The Chair helps us figure out where to start the queue.Is handy for those of us who decide to be Queen of the Shore for the Moment. Meanwhile, Sam is scooping up a batch of seaweed to crown the Queen. Her Majesty didn't quite take to the idea.But the main purpose of the Chair is to help us landlubbers clamber back up to the boat. I again did the Dugong Dive to get into the boat. Is a lot easier than trying to be ladylike and step in.And of course, for those left behind for the next boat pick up (IF all goes well and IF the boat comes back), the Chair is a handy place to have a seat while waiting.

All wet from splashing around getting back into the boat, it was freezing on the way home.
Even though Shawn, ever the gentleman, offered to shield Siti from the wind, it still bites.Joe and Dawn are more cheerful about it.Charmaine is almost unrecognisable in her full body and full face jacket.Cyrene Reef is an amazing shore and we shall be back in a few months for our regular monitoring. Let's hope we have better weather then.

Thank you to all who came for the monitoring: Shawn, Sam, Kenerf, Marcus Ng, Sijie, Dawn, Charmaine, Nor Aishah, Leon, Joe, Kok Sheng and Chee Kong. And of course Siti and Wei Ling for taking care of all the equipment (we always forget that they do all the washing up! Thank you ladies!), and of course Melvin for the miraculous landing and evacuation as usual.

Other posts about this trip

No comments: