Apr 2, 2010

Cyrene Reef (2 Apr 10)

It's our first morning low tide for the year, and a small team land on Cyrene Reef in the first light of dawn.
Cyrene is a submerged reef surrounded on three sides: by the heavy industries on Jurong Island, the huge refineries of Pulau Bukom (in photo above), and our world-class container terminals. Despite this, it has one of the best seagrass meadows in Singapore!

It's also Shufen's first time back out on Cyrene for a long long time! She can't resist taking a photo of the glorious sunrise. Behind her, the Pasir Panjang Container terminals and the city skyline.
While some of us trek all the way out nearly 1km to Site 2, the other half of the team are already set up at Site 1. With the huge industrial installations of Jurong in the background.
We soon got started, and Steve and I got an easy transect. Alas, some of the seagrasses have burnt tips, and all the Tape seagrasses have lost their tips and are very short. Some parts are covered with a scummy thing.
But still, there is a lot of seagrasses. With the most number of species in one location. So it's rather tricky to monitor.
Sometimes, along the transect line, our monitoring point is right on the barest patch of the seagrass meadow. Sigh.
All too soon, we were done! And we had a quick look at Cyrene on our way back to the pick up point. Besides seagrasses, Cyrene also has vast sandbars teeming with Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) and Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta).
And some spots are crowded with big Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus). Here's Steve having a look at them.
These sea stars come in all shapes and colours. One in the water was really fat and bloated. Perhaps it ate a lot? While another was pale and somewhat bluish.
One of the sea stars had lost an arm. A sea star can purposely drop off an arm if it feels stressed. This is why we should never pick up a sea star by its arm or dangle it about by its arm. In fact, we should try not to touch sea stars to avoid stressing them.
Cyrene is also ringed with reefs! And the seagrasses grow right into the reefs. There are all kinds of hard and soft corals here, with seagrasses poking out among them.
Sean and Jocelyn also saw the special Pentaceraster sea star (Pentaceraster mammilatus)! This sea star was first spotted on Cyrene and turned out to be a new record for Singapore. Marcus also saw a cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae). More about we saw in the blogs linked below.

It got really hot by the time we had to leave. Poor Siti is tired out from working on coral spawning and other seagrassy stuff. Our pile of life vests make a nice shade for a quick snooze.
There's no jetty at Cyrene so it's an amphibious landing with a dinghy.
It's tricky getting in and out of the dinghy especially with the big waves washing up as the gianormous ships pass by Cyrene Reef.
So it's always a relief to have everyone safe and sound at the end of the trip! And enjoyed more cookies from Sean!
It's jellyfish season! We saw lots as we got in and out of the boat, and more at the Marina when we arrived on the mainland. These Ribbon jellyfishes (Chrysaora sp.) have a really nasty sting that hurts and takes a long time to heal. This is why we need to cover all our skin when we do an amphibious landing.
Since it was a holiday and nice and hot, I gave the equipment a good wash!
Glad to have spent a fruitful monitoring day out with Siti, Shufen, Chay Hoon, Marcus, Jocelyn, Sean, Steve, Kah Ming and Joo Yong!

Other blog posts about this trip

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