Mar 11, 2012

Cyrene Reef (11 Mar 2012)

Our first morning tide trip for 2012 is to Cyrene Reef! In the first glimmers of dawn, a large team start the slow transfer from the big boats to this awesome submerged reef that lies in the middle of the industrial triangle!
In addition to a team for seagrass monitoring, more TeamSeagrass volunteers have stepped up to help Siti with her seagrass experiment on Cyrene.

On the TeamSeagrass boat, Yen-Ling kindly gives the briefing while I am running up and down between two boats to get the trip started. I'm very thankful that Yen-Ling made the time to come for our little trip even though she had just finished a gruelling week at Singapore's First Marine Biodiversity Expedition.
After a long slow boat transfer, a few of us made the long walk to Site 2 and got started on the monitoring.
Oh dear, we saw many patches of bleached and burnt seagrasses. Most of the large strap-like seagrasses were affected especially Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) and Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii). The Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium) and Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) that we saw were alright, and Needle seagrasses (Halodule sp.) less affected. But overall seagrass coverage and the variety of seagrasses seen remains good
The Tape seagrasses remain short, cropped with the tips burnt or bleached. Nor Aishah and Wei Ling also said that they encountered films of oil on their Site 1 while monitoring the seagrasses there.
Nevertheless, we saw lots of marine life in our transects. There were many small White sea urchins, several small Common sea stars and even some tiny Rabbitfishes! Another great sighting shared by Nor Aishah, flowering Sickle seagrass! I earlier saw a fruit of Sickle Seagrass at Cyrene in Jan 2012.
On my way back to the departure point, I had a quick look at the big pool which used to be full of long lush Tape seagrass. It remains bare of Tape seagrasses, but other seagrass species are growing on the sandy bottom.
I also came across patches of Spoon seagrasses that were covered thickly with some sort of scummy growth.
Another kind of scummy growths seen on other patches of seagrasses.
Here's another look at the burnt and bleaching going on that affects the strap-like seagrasses.
These were the 'tallest' Tape seagrasses that I came across. Sigh. It's rather sad that this situation of cropped Tape seagrasses has not show signs of improvement since it was first observed in Nov 2010.
But spectacular marine life can still be seen on Cyrene. More links to what the team shared below.

I didn't even get a chance to drop by Siti's Team or the TeamSeagrass folks doing Site 1 before the tide rushed in and it was time to get off Cyrene!
It was hard work at Siti's site but with many helping hands everything got done in time! There is a lot to carry out!
Like all good Singaporeans, we queue up even in the middle of sea!
Siti bids us a tearful farewell!
I take the last boatload home by which time the tide had risen even more. To make things even more exciting, a huge container ship passed by, resulting in a rush of super tall waves!
Though wet, we all got back safely and got all our seagrassy work done! Hurray!

It was great to have with us today: Wei Ling, Yen-Ling, Nor Aishah, Yi Feng, Regina, Jia Ling, Sean, Jerome, Gaytri, Ethel, Wanzhen to take care of the seagrass monitoring. And Rachel, Chun Fong, Sankar, Jeremy, Pek Gnee, Adrian, Johnson and Jonathan to help Siti with her seagrass experiment.

Special thanks to Rachel for organising the transport and taking care of the logistics for this trip!

We were also joined by Kristine White, an amphipod expert who is here for Singapore's First Marine Biodiversity Expedition. Chay Hoon accompanied her in sampling Cyrene for these elusive tiny creatures. And Kristine has found many of her favourite critters on Cyrene! Hurray!

More about this trip
  • Ria with Knobbly sea stars standing on their toes
  • Jeremy on facebook with lots of Common sea stars, Bonnet snail and more!

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