The Blue Tempeh
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
  LABRADOR: The life beneath!
LABRADOR PARK. One of our LAST natural rocky shores on Singapore. A lot has been said about labrador park at these sites:

Labrador Park Blog
National Parks Board on Labrador Park
Labrador Park on WILDSINGAPORE

And I *KNOW* there's many more so these are just a few of those that I think give punched packed information!

All these sites are about the rich intertidal habitat at Labrador, but noone has really documented what's UNDERWATER off Labrador before. The last coral reef survey that was done there was in the late 1980s! Since then, noone's really sure...

***OOPS!!! MY BAD! I just checked, and there was actually a survey conducted off Labrador Beach in 2000! Documenting LIVE CORAL COVER of ~23%!***

So on the 4th of Feb (Yes, the MURKY WATERS day) we decided to dive at Labrador! To, again, document fluroscence (see previous entry on SJ Night Dive) with Abby, Dionne, Tse-Lynn and Jim Wong.

After a whole lot of calling and asking for proper research permits and permissions from NParks (because Labrador is a protected area and you are not suppose do anything without proper permits), we had clearance. Since it was so last minute, we couldn't get the ranger to let the gate be opened till later. The gate to the beach entrance gets locked at 8pm. We had to HURRY!

We RUSHED to Labrador, quickly loading all our gears, tanks and barangs onto the truck. And off we went!

Our barang barang!

Since ALL of us were diving (I had initially volunteered to be on land...but HOW COULD I RESIST!!! LABRADOR!!! Too tempting!), we had to minimise the amount of barangs we lugged around. So we decided to gear up at the carpark. I think it must have been quite a sight for the bride and groom in full wedding attire taking wedding photos in the area... The ice cream uncle seemed quite entertained though....

Squeezzinng into wetsuits...

Bemused ice cream uncle in background...haha...

After settling things like buddies... who does what... who holds what torchlight... and emergency plans... we were IN the water! It was more of a DUSK dive... By this time, it was about 7pm. Sunset time...

Off the beach...into the water...It's high tide so you float and avoid stepping on the bottom as much as possible...

Check out the background...

The jetty!

"Labrador waters....eeeeeee....and COOOLLDD"

A view of labrador beach not many people have...

But SURPRISINGLY, taking into account that there are a lot of boat traffic in the area, and that it's so near to shipping ports, the visibility was a stunning 2.5m (at least!). It was COOL! I could see the bottom from the surface of the water!

And OFF we went to do work first...Dionne and I were suppose to help Jim document fluorescence...Dionne held the torch, Jim the video and I the camera...

This is a sample of what we took... so prettyyy.....

White light.

Blue filter added.

Yellow filter added.

This Platygyra sp. (maze coral) fluoresces very nicely! And so BRIGHT too!

I didn't only get to see fluorescence, but also some marine creatures that's pretty cool!

Labrador is surprisingly interesting. There were large huge colonies of corals, mainly Turbinaria sp. and Montipora sp. ones. But there were also large colonies of Porites sp. corals! With scrape marks on them made by grazing fishes. It all looks very pretty.

There was no reef crest and the corals seem to taper off at about 4m. After that, it's all sand and silt. We think this is probably because it is a busy shipping channel and all that surge displaces all that sand and silt upshore... Seeing how I expected it to be quite void of life, it was a pleasant surprise that beneath all that (the old jetty, the ships passing by, the surge...) there is still a lot of life!

Like this cute COWRY!


And this REALLY cute copperbanded favourite!

Copperbanded butterflyfish.

It was so CUTE!! because it seeemed like it was GUARDING this cowry!!! Awww! Let's make it a Labrador Park Watch honorary member!

I also saw this SLEEPING FILEFISH! I realised that when it was sleeping... it had a very brownish colour and blended very well with its surroundings. It also seemed to have nicely lodged itself in this nook in a rock...

A sleeping filefish...

But as it began to wake up...(SORRY SORRY SORRY!!!!!!!!! I think the camera flashes must have been too disturbing!!!) changed colour! It began to have splotches of YELLOW!

Filefish...waking up...


Just underneath the rock where the filefish was sleeping (emphasis on WAS), there was a sleeping RABBITFISH! awww so cuuutteee.....

Again, coral polyps at night. They're OUT! And feeding! During the day, they retract into the calcium carbonate skeleton and let the zooxanthellae (symbiotic algae living with the corals) do the work...providing 90% of its food source.

While we were doing what we did...Abby and Tse-Lynn were suppose to do a recce of the reef crest. If there were any in the first place. They were swimming around...and they hit THIS:


LABRADOR IS PROTECTED AREA AND A BUBUH IS SURE NOT SUPPOSE TO BE DEPLOYED THERE!!! Furthermore, by the looks of how many fishes there were in there, it hasn't been recently checked! It's so absurd!!

So they asked me for my knife (my poor knife is probably BLUNT now...) to cut big hole in the bubuh. It's OK, my knife for the fishes... it's a fair trade... It's an old knife anyway... more reason to get a new knife... ehehehe....=P

At LEAST two species of butterflyfishes were trapped in the bubuh! The copperbanded and...

...I couldn't make this one out...but it's different!

We would have LOOVVEEEDD to take it out. But it was at NIGHT, we were RUSHING to get out of the water in case the park ranger LOCKS us in the beach area... and the darn bubuh was just TOO big! Yeah, it was a BIG bubuh!

In any case, we have informed the NParks personnels who will have manpower and time to retrieve it.

At the end of the dive...

Surfacing into the night...

That was the end of our exciting, fun filled, work packed and also tiring day...

BTW, earlier in the day, we had an aborted dive out to Raffles and then had two dives at Hantu. So it was quite a tiring, but exciting day...

Our stomachs RUMBLING, we headed for some place to eat nearby. But the bad news was...we didn't have a lot of cash with us...I, for one, had NONE! So we pooled all our cash together and had a SCRUMPTIOUS meal!!!!!! The food tasted DARN GOOD!!!! Must be the labrador water aftertaste....

Pooling what we had...You can see marine biologists don't get paid much...Yeaps...that's true...
  NIGHT DIVE! off Saint' John's Jetty!
This is actually a back log... I dived at the Saint John's Island jetty on the night of the 2nd of Feb!

Anyway, the day before, Dionne and I finally completed our final project report! So I was SO wanting to do something fun and exciting! Which, as usual, was decided upon quite on the last minute.

All our barangs (and Abby) for just ONE NIGHT'S stay...mostly it's JIM's (videographer).>

What else more exciting than a NIGHT DIVE in Singapore...and a JETTY DIVE to boot!

I am a chicken. I admit. I HATE diving in places with man-made structures like jetties and wrecks. It's eerie. It's scary. It makes my skin crawl. Somemore, it's at NIGHT. Brrr....although I might not look it, I had moths (it's night time see...) in my stomach...

At least I think I'm still better than JIM. Jim is a videographer who is documenting fluorescence for Dr. Elizabeth Taylor from TMSI. He is also an avid videographer of Singapore waters! Cool eh... Or should I say...COLD. HE WAS WEARING A DRY SUIT FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

JIM IN A DRY SUIT! IN SINGAPORE!! The water was like 28 degrees lah... maybe 27 at least.

But the VIS was gorgeous! We went down to 9m and it was still so clear! I think a good approximation would be AT LEAST 3m. Fantastic...

So we went down...and shot fluorescence! THIS is what fluorescence looks like. You have to use a blue filter and a yellow filter to be able to see the nice flowing effect... BTW, don't mistake FLUORESCENCE (emitting light during exposure to radiation from an external source) with BIOLUMINESCENCE (emit light naturally, on its own).

A normal coral in normal white light.

With the BLUE filter.

With the YELLOW only see the part that fluoresces

More glowing corals!

A mushroom coral flurorescing...

Pectinia sp.

Turbinaria sp.

And ZOANTHIDS glow too!!!

And Tse-Lynn and I were about to take the photo of a nice Tubastrea sp. (cave coral) coral, I saw a silhoette of something....which....kiinnnnndddddaaaa lookkkksss like a.... SEAHOOORRSEEE!!!!!!!!!

So I was like going MMMMMM....MMMM..MMM...MMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MMMMM!!!!! (translate: SEAAA....HOOOORRSSEE...SEEEAAA!!!!! HOOORSEE!!!!!)

And this Tse-Lynn was so nonchalant. She kept shining the blue light and didn't even take her camera! (I later found out she though I was getting excited at the fluorescing sponge next to it...)

Anyway, the seahorse nicely drapped itself around the cave coral like so:

MMMM!!!! MMMMM!!!!

AND what more, IT WAS PREGNANT!!!!

Yes, it fell into a cloud of silt below the cave coral...

After that... I was SOOO ready to explore every nook and cranny of the darn jetty!!! And look what else we found!!!!

Pretty ain't it...

--------COMMERCIAL BREAK---------



Once upon a time, there was a little polyclad flatworm...travelling as happy as a bee...

"Lalalala...lalala...OH NO ARGHHH What is this HUGE GAP DOING HERE!! I must, I must cross it...I muuussttt...

"Hoookaayy... let's see now..."


"URRGHHHH!!!! UuuuuuUUUrrrrgghHHHH!!!!"

"....ahh forget it... I'll just go the long's too much work"


--------------------------NOW BACK TO THE PROGRAMME--------------------------------

Yes... and there were LOADS of other things we saw!! LIKE THESE!!!

A nice cute pipefish....this thing fluoresces too ya know!

Cute little crab....


Your copper banded butterfly fish

This damselfish wasn't scared at all!!! I was SOOO NEAAARR to it!!

Awww isn't this baby lizardfish cuuutteee!!!

A cloud of hydroids (which stung me VERY badly on my hand...can still see the scars), home to TONNES of these tiny spider crabs!

And at night...corals are OUT and they look different from during the day! It's SO PRETTY!!!! The polyps are out!

Tubastrea sp.

And at night... CORAL WAR is ongoing!! Competing for food and/or space and warding off competitors, some corals have what is known as SWEEPER TENTACLES.

Corals can have longer fighting polyps which can be even 5 times longer than common ones. Fighting polyps have fighting (sweeper) tentacles much longer than common ones. These sweeper tentacles are armed with many more nematocysts (stinging cells) than normal coral polyps.

Essentially, they kill/injure whatever coral/algae that is within these tentacle's range. What you see in the day is just probably a border of dead coral between, say, two corals... But AT NIGHT, it's when the ACTION is all happening!

Sweeper tentacles...going for another coral...

Closer view...

Even CLOSER!!! Look at them sweeper tentacles!

And after an hour plus dive, we surfaced and ABBY prepared us some cut fruits to replace the energy we shivered off....

Abby, Jim and Tse-Lynn...

AFTER THIS DIVE! I can safely say I would LOVE to dive more at JETTIES! Especially if you combine with the last RAFFLES LIGHTHOUSE dive.
A Marine Conservation Journal of Events and Sentiments.

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