Aug 14, 2007

How is Labrador Beach?

This morning, I went to have a look at Labrador Beach.

Labrador Beach is part of the Labrador Nature Reserve and is our only shore protected as a Nature Reserve. It is our last mainland shore with natural rocky shores, reefs and seagrass meadows.

A cofferdam was built on Labrador Beach in Jul 06 as part of work to divert submarine services between Pasir Panjang and Pulau Bukom.

Here is a photo of the cofferdam taken in Dec 06; more about this visit on the Labrador Park blog.This submarine services diversion is in preparation for land reclamation next to Labrador Beach. To build more berths at Pasir Panjang Container Terminal.
You can see the cranes of the existing Pasir Panjang container terminal just behind the cofferdam on Labrador Beach.

More details about this project on the announcement of the EIA for this project (PDF file).

As part of the diversion, dredgers work extensively right in front of the Beach. Here is a photo taken in Dec 06 of the dredgers working on the project. The dredgers are very large.See the tiny human being to get a sense of the scale of operations.Dredgers are still working right in front of the Beach today.
After nearly a year of this kind of activity, it wasn't surprising to find that the Labrador shore wasn't in the best shape today.

A thick layer of silt covered the shore.

Gone are the lush seagrass meadows of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) near the cofferdam.

Labrador Beach has the best meadow of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) on the mainland. Thankfully, the meadow is still there, although the plants don't look very well.Also on Labrador this morning were Swee Hee and Martyn, the supremos of the Anemone Team. So of course, there was a hunt for those elusive Condy-nots that is top on Dr Daphne's list.

I remembered seeing these sea anemones frequently on Labrador. Indeed, despite the deterioration in conditions, they were still there!

In all kinds of colours
And patterns.
And various locations.
But these anemones disappear instantly and require stealth even to spot. If you splash around too much, they disappear even before you can see them. Martyn hurt his hand on a bristleworm while we worked on the first one we spotted. Thereafter, Swee Hee worked alone. As a result, we didn't have much success in getting a closer look at them, although we did spot many. Most got away, contracting into the soft silt and obscured by the murky waters.

We also saw some small Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).And this Frilly sea anemone seems to be eating coral rubble!
Or perhaps it's an encrusted snail shell or something else. We didn't disturb it as it probably took some effort to get this meal.

I also saw this small patch of soft coral. And of course totally missed the spotted snail thing. I only saw it when I got home and enlarged the photo. Grr.
There was also a pretty peacock anemone. I seem to see this kind only on our Southern shores.
There were some small patches of colonial anemones and sponges, here and there.Swee Hee was quite intrigued by this particular crab. But we left them alone as these two crabs were mating! Oops.
Poking bravely out of the silty ground were small colonies of hard corals. Silt is really tough on corals as the animals have to expend energy to keep themselves clear of sediments.
This larger colony seemed to be coping.But we came across this large (about 50cm across) dead Disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) washed up on the high shore.
It looked like it got chopped right off at the base. I wonder what happened to it?

In June 06 there was an effort by volunteers to relocate the corals and other marine life on the intertidal. There was also a similar relocation of hard corals by divers below the low tide mark. I wonder how all these corals are doing in these terribly silty conditions. There is also a great deal of fast moving boat traffic in front of the Beach, resulting in lots of wave action.

Construction work on Labrador Beach is expected to end in Oct 07. But this will eventually be followed by the reclamation work for the Pasir Panjang container terminal extension, right next to Labrador Beach.

We can only hope for the best, for this our last mainland reef.

Here's more of the marine life that could be seen on Labrador Beach before works started, on wildsingapore.

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