Thursday, June 29, 2006

Kusu Feb 2006 - Sea whip shrimp

My current fave shot! Chased the bugger around until it stayed in a good position! Such critters are the reason I love diving Kusu so much.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bye-Bye Bayan 2 Apr 2006

It was my first and last look at Terumbu Bayan. A pretty little patch reef, now buried and gone forever under a pile of sand and rocks, soon to be a billion-dollar generating petrochemical hub. Before my trip, there were already quite a few marine life relocation activities conducted, and numerous hard coral colonies were translocated. Went with RMBR on a salvage operation to retrieve as many specimens as we could for preservation.

Early morning at Terumbu Bayan

The video team ready to go

Sunrise over Terumbu Bayan, smack in the heart of petrol-land

The coral relocation team certainly did an efficient job

Jani and I came across a huge pile of Acropora rubble. Wonder where it came from?

Some critters that we saw:
A nice fat Glossodoris. Found out later that it secretes noxious chemicals!

Really cool flatworm

This ribbon eel gave us a good chase!

Now we know why they call it 'spring' tide...

Sorting specimens on board

Though it was fun to go out and catch stuff, I can't help but feel that it would have been so much nicer if all those animals could stay on safely in their watery homes, instead of being pickled in a museum. But I guess if the development would die-die go ahead, with no chance of a reprieve, it's better that we got the chance to preserve some of the marine life for future reference, instead of having everything buried and gone without a trace.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Horrific scenes from Raffles Lighthouse

Was browsing through my friend's online photo album today, and was absolutely horrified by the carnage in the photos of Raffles Lighthouse!! It looked as though a boat had rammed into the fringing coral reef there, smashing hard coral colonies to pieces and overturning the boulder corals. Here are some of her photos:

Smashed up Pavona colony

Overturned Porites coral boulder, and a gap on the reef flat

A smash and run?

Why am I so upset?

I have dived frequently at Raffles Lighthouse from 2000, it was one of my study sites and a survey site for the Blue Water Volunteers. RL is (or was) a really special place, with one of the highest percentages of coral cover in Singapore, and a wide variety of hard coral species, including staghorn coral (Acropora spp.), which is otherwise rarely seen in Singapore. The reefs of RL could also be important sources of larvae to replenish the other reefs, as there is a mass coral-spawning event happening there in March/April every year. Not to mention, that the reefs are just really beautiful, awash in colour and shimmering with a multitide of fish and marine life, like this!

BTW, heard that this particular Acropora colony was also dislodged and currently upside-down in a crevice.

Hard corals are really important to a coral reef. They're its backbone, providing habitat, mating grounds, shelter, food, nutrient recycling, etc etc etc... Despite all their importance, they grow ever so slowly, some only reaching 1cm/year. Imagine all the years of tenacious growth smashed apart so instantly.... It causes quite a lot of heartpain.

How could this happen???

Raffles Lighthouse is a restricted area. We have to obtain permits from MPA whenever we carry out surveys there. As far as I know, no leisure boaters or fishermen are allowed within 200m of the island. One would think that Raffles Lighthouse thus receives a high level of protection, but as the Sipadan case showed us, it takes more than words and legislation to protect a reef.