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S’pore photographer discovers sea turtles & seahorses living at Marina at Keppel Bay

Some feel-good environmental news to counter the doom and gloom about climate change.

Sumita Thiagarajan | January 9, 06:00 pm

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Usually when you think of marinas where boats are docked, you might think of dirty brown waters and plastic floating on the surface.

This is not the case for Marina at Keppel Bay.

Young sea turtles, seahorses and other creatures found on underwater pontoons and seawalls

According to this Facebook post by Nathaniel Soon, an underwater photography project conducted by Our Seas, Our Legacy and Marina at Keppel Bay uncovered a wide variety of marine life in its clear, blue waters.

pontoon reef at keppel bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay

Soon told Mothership that among the surveys done at urban pontoons (floating structures that boats are attached to), the Marina at Keppel Bay has proven to have the greatest diversity in marine life.

Of the 12 hours spent underwater over 6 dives, Soon’s highlight was finding juvenile hawksbill turtles (as seen below).

sea turtle at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
seahorse at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
copper banded butterflyfish at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
filefish at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay

Soon found that the man-made structures at the marina, such as the pontoons and seawalls, are home to seahorses, butterflyfish and filefish.

nudibranch at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
nudibranch at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
jellyfish at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
sea cucumber at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay

The team also spotted nudibranchs, a white-spotted jellyfish and a sea cucumber that was eating.

The photographer highlighted in his album that it was a pleasant surprise that these rare creatures could be found on these urban structures, especially as they are hard to come by in our natural reefs.

The City Reef Initiative: A role model for urban marine conservation

According to this website, the marine life is thriving on the pontoons due to careful management of the marina through the City Reef Initiative.

The marina was built to allow water to flow in and out of the area according to the natural tides.

This allows for water rich in nutrients and food for fishes, such as plankton, to flow into the marina.

At the same time, the natural flow of water allows for the growth of corals.

All boats at the marina are provided with a complex pump-out system which makes sure that sewage from the vessels does not enter the water, thus keeping the water clean.

seaweed at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
fan worm at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
sea fan at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay
corals at marina at Keppel Bay
Photo by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay

The clean waters allow for the growth of seaweed, fan worms, sea fans and corals.

To ensure that the marine life is not impacted, boat owners are encouraged to use washing liquids and detergents that are biodegradable when cleaning their boats.

In addition, fishing is not allowed within the marina to ensure balance in the food chain of the marine life that lives there.

On land, only environmentally-friendly fertilisers are used on the plants at the marina to ensure that any excess fertiliser that might enter the water will not harm the marine residents.

Future efforts between the management and scientists from NUS

According to the initiative’s corporate video, scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will be working with the Marina at Keppel Bay to enhance the urban habitats so that the marine life can continue to thrive.

You can find out more about this initiative here:

Let’s hope that more marinas will work on becoming environmentally-friendly so that we can live in harmony with sea turtles and other marine life.

Check out Soon’s full Facebook post below:


Top photos by Nathaniel Soon/Facebook and Marina at Keppel Bay

About Sumita Thiagarajan

Sumita dreams of a world where humans live in perfect harmony with animals, including rats, pigeons and cockroaches. If you’re bored, you can always ask Sumita to tell you cool facts about our native snakes, or bomb-sniffing hero rats.

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