27 Jan 2015

Coral relocation project from Semakau to Sisters’ Islands Marine Park completed

DHI’s marine biologists successfully transplanted over 700 coral colonies from Semakau Landfill’s lagoon to Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, following landfill expansion plans to accommodate Singapore’s waste disposal needs.

The Semakau Landfill is Singapore’s only landfill, situated offshore among the southern islands. An area at the southern tip of its lagoon – where corals had grown naturally – is slated to undergo expansion, and a project was started to conserve the corals amid developmental works.

The National Environmental Agency (NEA) commissioned a survey which recommended that 27 genera of corals in the area be conserved. NEA subsequently contracted our Singapore office to carry out the transplantation of coral communities from within the sub-tidal zone of the semi-enclosed lagoon to pre-determined recipient sites at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The corals needed to be moved before construction works to close the gap along the bund wall is completed.

We harvested more than 700 hard coral colonies and other species from Semakau Landfill lagoon and temporarily placed them along a nearby holding area until the one-month harvesting phase was completed. The transplanted coral community include rare slipper coral (Polyphyllia talpina), fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) and the Neptune’s Cup (Cliona patera) which was thought to be extinct since 1908 and first rediscovered in Singapore in 2011 also by our marine biologists. The next three months were then spent to move and attach the harvested corals to Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. 

The coral transplantation was successfully completed on 20 January 2015. Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, handed over the last corals to DHI’s Ecological Habitats Section Head, Brian Cabrera, to mark the completion of the coral relocation.

We are now in the monitoring phase of the project, which will run until September 2015. Over the next nine months, surveys will be carried out to monitor the health and survival of the transplanted corals.

‘It’s a great opportunity for DHI to be involved in this coral relocation project to showcase our capabilities in mitigating and managing any impacts to the environment due to industrial developments which nowadays are rather inevitable', says Brian Cabrera, Section Head, Ecological Habitats.

Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan handing over a giant clam to DHI Singapore's Ecological Habitats Section Head, Brian Cabrera.