Mar 1, 2014

Pulau Semakau (28 February 2014)

2014 marks TeamSeagrass's 8th year in monitoring! Woo hoo! Our very first monitoring trip brings us to Pulau Semakau. It is also unfortunately our last trip to Pulau Semakau for the next year or so, as NEA is starting works on the construction of Phase 2's cells to accommodate future waste disposal.

Nevertheless, we managed to gather a team of 20 volunteers - firstly a BIG THANK YOU for coming to join us, especially since it is a weekday. With the recent hot dry spells, we urged our volunteers to protect themselves and hydrate! We also conducted our usual briefing in the NEA building prior to departure onto the seashore...
Captain Siti briefing everyone

Attentive volunteers

Upon arrival, I was pleased to find out that the tides were much lower than the expected tides! The flats were exposed to the very reef-edge! This made our monitoring smooth and easy too (especially with the photography of quadrats). While it was particularly sunny, we were blessed that the clouds came over to shelter us from the sun.

Volunteers in pairs, working together to gather data

How are the seagrasses on Pulau Semakau? Sadly, it appears to have deteriorated even further since the previous monitoring. In my transect, almost half the quadrats had no seagrass cover at all; algae cover appears to be very low, if not zero in most quadrats too... What is happening to our seagrasses??

5m mark - 5%
Apart from the low (or zero) seagrass cover, many volunteers have commented that the canopy of grasses were very low (~1.5cm). :( The cropped seagrass syndrome has been observed on another monitored reef, Cyrene but to a lesser extent.

25m mark - 0%

45m mark - 5%

Thankfully, the residents of the seagrass meadows appear to be doing well for themselves! These knobblie seastars are one of the largest seastars found in Singapore - while they used to be found amongst the seagrasses, these animals appeared to have moved nearer towards the reef edge. Could they tell us what's happening to this meadow?

Knobbly seastar (Protoreaster nodosus)

Always entertaining everyone with their 'arm' stands

I was really proud of myself for finding this small giant clam! Yes, this is a GIANT CLAM - the smallest known species, Tridacna crocea. This species can grow up to 15cm in length, and this one here is ~4.5cm - a long way more to go! It is heartening for me to see new individuals (and possibly newer recruits) onto our local reefs. I'm happy to share this young clam with all the volunteers.

Tridacna crocea

Another rare guest on the shore - the horseshoe crab (possibly the coastal species?).

Horseshoe crab

Sean and friends also followed a friendly octopus around for a while! Check out his photo album for more cool photographs!

Friendly octopus - Shared on Sean Yap's Facebook

Volunteers having a look around

Prelude to sunset

To wrap up the day, we took a group photo behind (alas!) the mangrove tree spot... Many thanks to all the volunteers who took time out to join us today and we hoped you had enjoyed it! Next up - Chek Jawa!

Smile everyone! Credits to Marcus Ng.

Special thank you to our guests: Ross Coleman and Becki Morris from the University of Sydney! They work on rocky shores and seawalls - boy, they were so excited when they spotted one! Here's a photo of them looking around! :)

Seawall troopers!

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