Feb 28, 2006

A tribute to Singapore's coral reefs. PART 1 (An Appendix).

This post is inspired by "A tribute to Singapore's coral reefs. PART 1." at The Blue Tempeh, and is an appendix as it will not be as extensive as that.

I recently paid US$103.12 for 2 dives at Hawaii while on some other business there. I think many would as well. The dive boat was full, with some of the divers diving for many consecutive days, and raving about how diverse Hawaii's reefs are. Well, upon entering the water, I was immediately wowed by the clarity of the water. Clear blue, something that Singapore has failed to maintain...

But as I made my descent, I see this...




















How many species in this picture? I only see one... (Pocillopora meandrina)

Well, I did see another... (Porites lobata)




















But that is about all at two dive sites located at the south shore of Oahu... let's take a look at Singapore... St John's Island...




















Need I say more? The number of species is so high we can see different species fighting to stay here... competition between coral species is tough here, but they have done well to stay for the past hundred million years or so...



















Coral competition and the dead zone between them

Unfortunately, competition has increased, between reefs and man... obviously humans are at an advantage in Singapore because we have fancy ships and lots of sand from elsewhere to respectively ram against and pile on top of these poor animals...

So I was thinking, if the Hawaii state government decides to reclaim land and cover their reefs, say hypothetically land is limited... maybe just the one shown above, what would the response be? Not pretty... people all over the world would probably make noise...

Now as you read this, some reef in Singapore is going to be lost, but who makes/made noise? Hmm... maybe a few people who petitioned and a lone ranger in parliament.

The thing is, I don't even think where we dove in Hawaii was a reef, just some corals scattered on lava rocks... but thousands are willing to fork out that kind of money to dive there (many times over), and likely protest if it's under threat. As mentioned in The Blue Tempeh, Singapore is situated near the "Coral Triangle", and corals are plenty here. 197 species here vs less than 50 in the whole Hawaiian archipelago (Veron, 1995). But the truth is, not many know we have reefs, let alone understand this fact... Reefwalk just received its 1000th visitor to Kusu. But that's as much as such programmes can do (including Chek Jawa walks and some others)...

It's time we start raving about the 197 coral species we may still possess, before its gone, forever. We ought to be charging 4x US$103.12 or receiving 4x thousands of visitors to Singapore reefs for the 4x more diverse corals here. Ok, that's not how we should do business, but you get my point...

Those of you reading this probably knows more or less of this... time to go beyond the usual crowd.

17 comments:

kilbunny said...

interestingly, couple of uniform staff from my office have been asking for a visit to kusu. once i get the numbers, i'd prob try to arrange a private reefwalk. it's not all lost yet. when there're still people interested in our reefs, we're not fighting a lost cause.

ria said...

A very inspiring post!

Yes, we have wonderful reefs and shores. And we need to tell everyone about it! Especially 'beyond the usual crowd' as you so rightly put it.

BWV is doing great work in this direction. Keep it up and don't lose heart.

LingtheMerciless said...

Would like to share my similar experience diving in Hawaii...

Few years ago, I dived with the famous Mike Severn dive shop at the Molokini Crater.

While I was hoping to be graced by the presence of huge pelagics like mantas and whalesharks, I felt that if they didn't appear, at least the marine biologist DMs would be able to educate us about the marine life that we saw.

After taking the plunge, what struck me was the 200 - 300 m viz. Great stuff! But where was all the fish? Even the corallife seemed rather lifeless...I mean, I've seen much better dives in local waters.

After about 20 mins of little activity, the DM spied a baby black tip. We spent about 15 mins marvelling at that. Another 1/2 hr on the boat was spent on the life and times of a frog fish, the only other fish I recalled seeing.

I think the situation would have been different if a manta had flown past, but on dives when it didn't, there wasn't really a staple of marinelife to justify an eventful dive. So between a high viz, low biodiversity dive, and a low viz, high biodiversity dive, of course I'd pick the latter.

I was thinking to myself, if the dives in this region were guided by marine biologists, we'd need a whole day to describe the things that we saw.

So, I think that BWV is definitely headed in the right direction and doing a great job! And the marine life in our waters are to be treasured. :)

Papa Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Papa Jeff said...

Nice appendix, Danwei. I am constantly amazed by the diversity to be found in Singapore waters, even after 15 or more years of diving here. Maybe not as "wow" as some other places with clear blue waters, but it is *ours*. We must start getting more people to understand that our natural heritage (both terrestrial and marine) is fragile, and if we don't look after it, we can lose it, maybe forever.

bluebabe said...

Yeah, was diving in Thailand during the S'pore coral spawning period, and surprise surprise!! Missed S'pore reefs greatly (of course getting excited SMS-es on the excellent vis and wonderful sightings did not help...)

I love how I can see so many things in a single dive here- corals, colourful fishies, crustaceans, and my favourite commensals!! When the vis is good, the diving is definitely world-class :)

pammy whammy said...

Great blog entry... And all said is so true. I do hope that more people get to know and be more aware of the "plight" that we have here, while we still have a fighting chance.

So get out there and invite your friends and love ones, make a point to practice guiding and start spreading the word!!!

Monkey said...

i agree that our high biod should be marvelled at and it deserves greater appreciation from our country and divers/tourists/visitors in general but sadly... people are so drawn by the high visibility and the clear blue you talked about that they're just turned off. It's so sad. Not to forget, we also have very strong competition from neighboring islands and reefs. Don't need to compare to so far away, our neighbors pose a stronger competition and draw from divers than far away from home. If I can go to only one southeast asian country, i would pick one with high viz and high biod right? Of course reputation counts as well. Oh dear.. am i being a party booper.. hehe i didnt mean to be. All I have to say is, without BWV, I would never have ever dreamt of wanting to dive and now I'm really tempted! :D Imagine that... terrestrial monkey diving in the sea. wheee :P

if only our government would appreciate our reefs more and work at increasing our visibility and maintaining it, I am sure we would be able to give the other sites a run for their money.

bluebabe said...

I just read about marine parks in Hong Kong! They have about 80 species of hard coral, and the park which the government authority raves about as having high biodiversity has about 60 species....

There's 197 species of hard corals in Singapore!

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Well, upon entering the water, I was immediately wowed by the clarity of the water.

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