Toddycats visit Pulau Semakau Landfill

12 Jan 2013 – Raffles Museum Toddycats enjoyed their first enrichment activity of the year, a visit to Pulau Semakau!

It was an exciting day for all of us to learn about operations and discover the fascinating inter-tidal life still present on its shores. For many, it was also their first visit to the island.

Semakau Landfill was created in 1999 by enclosing Pulau Semakau and the smaller adjacent island of Pulau Sakeng, with a rock bund. With the last landfill on mainland Singapore exhausted, this is where all the ash from our trash is finally deposited.

During the hour it took to travel from Marina South Pier to Pulau Semakau by ferry, we were engaged in conversation and were told stories of the Southern Islands by our Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) Nature Guides. In no time, we had reached the island.

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Our guide, Henrietta Woo, told us more about Pulau Semakau as we reached the island.

We watched a short video on Singapore’s solid waste management practices at the Visitor’s Centre before proceeding a landfill tour on mini bus. At the Trash Transfer Building where the ash of our trash is unloaded, we were told to smell the surroundings. Despite inhaling deeply, there was no foul smell! The incinerated trash from the Tuas bore no smell!

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Excavators unloading the solid waste from the barge.

Soon we were driven past rows of neatly planted mangrove. This replanting effort was meant to replace a similar area of mature mangrove lost during development. It was a rare gesture in our history and heartening to learn about. Efforts had also been taken to screen the adjacent coral reefs from sedimentation. A unique effort indeed, which should be a standard practise for all projects!

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Replanted mangroves

At the southern-most end of Singapore accessible to the public, we admired the scenery, had a mini picnic and took a group photo!

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Cheery Toddycats at Pulau Semakau!

By late afternoon, we geared up for our low tide intertidal walk. RMBR Guides briefed the two groups about do’s and don’ts and we were off – wading through a forest! It had been raining heavily in January, hence the ponding on the coastal trail!

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The water level was up to our shin!

It was good to see that our guides had us walking in a single file behind them to minimise disturbance and for safety.

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Our guide, Ouyang Xiuling, leading the Toddycats across the seagrass meadow.

It was a very rewarding day for Toddycats!, and we were excited to see many inter-tidal creatures on Pulau Semakau! Here are some of the highlights:

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A very small common sea star (Archaster typicus)

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Polka-dot nudibranch (Jorunna funebris)

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Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)

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Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis)

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Heart cockle (Corculum cardissa)

knobbly seastars

Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)

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Cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae)

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Fine-lined flatworm (Family Pseudocerotidae)

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Fluted Giant Clam (Tridacna squamosa)

The beauty of Pulau Semakau serves as a reminder to us to protect our environment and to integrate efforts to rehabilitate as much nature as possible after development. This landfill is expected to only last until 2040, but surely we can prolong its life, even with an increasing population. We can all do our part to achieving Zero Waste Singapore society through the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and REFUSE!

On behalf of Toddycats, a sincere thank you to Ms Wang Luan Keng, Coordinator of Pulau Semakau walk, and her RMBR Nature Guides for this memorable experience!

More photos of this trip at the Toddycats Facebook Page.

Learn more about the flora and fauna of Pulau Semakau at the Project Semakau webpage.

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