Friday, January 31, 2014

Stress and more stress on Kusu Island

Just one day before our scheduled trip to Kusu Island, we received news of two marine collisions that resulted in an oil spill. Having experienced the devastating and long drawn effects of oil spill at Tanah Merah and East Coast, we were worried that marine life in the South would be affected.

Upon landing on the island, we went straight to the nearest lagoon facing northeast and we were greeted with lots of signs of the oil that hit Kusu Island. The arrows show the oil stains on the high shore, intertidal area and also created a thick dark band on the seawall facing inwards.

In fact, Sentosa has already put up a signage at the jetty area to advise the public to not swim in the lagoon due to the oil slick.

According to the report, Ria has mapped out the approximate area in which the marine collision took place near Kusu and Seringat-Kias.

Along the high shore, there were many lines of the remains of the oil slick that were swept up by the waves.

Moving down to take a closer look, we could see puddles of water with thick and thin sheen of oil. :(

The lagoon was particularly quiet today and it was saddening to see the Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) with the oil.

Much of the seagrass area in the lagoon had lots of black patches of oil over the surface and it was visible from far.

Here's a closer look at the oil over the seagrass.

Another photo of MORE oil in the lagoon. The consolation would be that not the entire lagoon was affected.

I saw several of these huge Extraordinary sea hares (Aplysia extraordinaria) that looked distressed. Oh dear...

They did not look very much covered with oil and I tried to rescue them to place into cleaner waters. But I was shocked to see how much of the oil on the sea hare actually stained my hand. It wasn't a good feel as the oil was sticky and it took myself several attempts after the trip to get rid of the oil.

I placed the sea hare in cleaner waters and it looked slightly happier and more normal. Hope it survives.

Just right at the banks of the high shore, we saw more stains of the oil that landed on the island after the collision.

Chay Hoon, Pei Yan and myself went over to the southern lagoon to check out and it did not look as bad as the northern one.

It was not nice to know that oil spill is not the only stress that the marine life at Kusu had to tolerate. There was thrash found on the reefs! The arrow in this photo shows a discarded mattress found near the jetty area.

And just nearby, the metal structure of a bed and what looks like bedsheet was found strewn on the shore.

What puzzles us would be that these mattress and metal structures of beds are found at different locations of Kusu shore. Why would people go around the island to dispose huge items?

Since today was a check of Kusu Island since my previous trip at 2010, I decided to go the extra mile to check the outside portions of the seawall that were previously sites of soil investigation works where barges, drills and tugboats were involved at the area.

Unfortunately, I came across more thrash on the reefs such as metal structures as seen in this photo.

Here is yet another huge u-shaped metal structure that is found right on top of living reefs.

And these metal structures literally crushes and inhibits the growth of the hard corals and other marine life.

Here's yet another huge metal structure sitting on top of the crowded living corals of Kusu.

There were also many of these rusty metal coils in bundles and more structures that were found. This is rather disturbing.

Kusu is home to many anemones and I was relieved to see that the Magnificent sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica) are doing fine.

The tide was lower than expected and thus we had the chance to explore the beautiful and crowded reefs of Kusu. In the background is the cityline and nowhere else can you find a pristine reef just 15 minutes boat ride away from city centre.

The hard and soft corals look alright and did not show signs of bleaching. This is good to know. I had a great time taking photos of the reef with the city centre at the background on a good daylight low tide.

Some parts of the reef were so thick that it was hard to find a spot to stand. It somehow resembles that corals of Raffles Lighthouse. :)

There were some flatworm sightings such as what looks like the Red-tipped flatworm (Pseudoceros bifurcus) and also the Orange-edged black flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis).

Here's another flatworm found right smack in between the branches of the Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea).

On the seawall, I stumbled upon these molluscs that cling tenaciously onto the boulder. They look like bivalves.

Here is yet another one. We do not know of its identity though.

Inside the lagoon, the waters was murkier that usual due to the oil sheen that floats on the surface. I saw this huge unidentified fish trapped inside a pool.

There was a "minefield" where thick growths of small Halimeda seaweeds (Halimeda sp.) were found.

And these seaweeds were found beside corals and other marine life. I do not know what led to the bloom of these seaweeds.

Lastly, I went over to the shore in front of the temple to have a look if it is impacted by oil or thrash. Thankfully, it was spared and the Montipora corals (Montipora sp.) are doing well.

What is distinctive of this shore would be the large mats of zoanthids where we would also find soft corals and corals in this colourful garden.

A pleasant find among the zoanthids would be this Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiela pustolosa).

But the top find of the day would definitely be this baby Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)! This is my first time finding the giant clam at Kusu. :)

Despite threats and stress, we believe that marine life, just like human beings, are resilient and will bounce back. However, the shore may not be as rich as before and may take a long time to recover. Tomorrow, we will try to visit other southern shores to assess the impacts of the other oil spill. :(

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Many thanks for the detailed report.

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