Semakau Landfill coral colonies' 'house-moving' a success

Semakau Landfill coral colonies' 'house-moving' a success

SINGAPORE - More than 700 coral colonies have been successfully relocated from a lagoon in Singapore's offshore landfill to the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, in a move to expand the landfill and conserve the corals.

To mark the completion of the project, which began in September last year, Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, handed over the last corals from Semakau Landfill to a diver for transplantation last evening.

The relocation project was carried out so that the second phase of development works could start in the southern lagoon of the landfill.

The corals there had grown naturally, but they had to be moved so Singapore could meet its waste disposal needs up to 2035 or beyond.

The site adjacent to the lagoon, where waste is now placed, is expected to be filled by next year.

To protect the marine habitats, the National Environment Agency (NEA) had commissioned a coral reef survey of the area in March last year. This was led by the National University of Singapore marine biologist Chou Loke Ming.

Results had shown that 27 different types of coral, some rare, found in the zone below the low-tide mark, be earmarked for transplantation.

During one routine dive to harvest the coral in September last year, for instance, marine biologists discovered a coral species known as the Neptune's Cup Sponge in the landfill lagoon.

Thought to be extinct since 1908, it is the second specimen to be found in Singapore's waters, after the first rediscovery in 2011.

Corals found in the shallower intertidal zone of the lagoon were also harvested and transplanted by the National Parks Board to the Marine Park.

NEA added that post-coral transplantation monitoring surveys at the marine park will also be carried out to monitor the survival and health of the transplanted corals.

The surveys, which will be carried out over nine months, will also monitor the water quality and sediment conditions at the recipient sites.

Dr Balakrishnan said yesterday: "This project is an excellent example of how close collaboration between agencies can yield benefits for the wider public and Singapore as a whole. NEA will now be able to meet the nation's waste disposal needs while balancing the conservation of our natural habitats. Most important of all, the needs of our future are taken care of without compromising the environment that our future generation will inherit."

audreyt@sph.com.sg


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