Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sad Scene of Sharks @ Semakau

115th Discovery Posting

Saturday morning was a morning with mixed emotions. On one hand, I have finally gotten to see a really close up view of the black tip reef shark on our reefs, which was a highlight of this trip down on the inter-tidal area of Semakau. On the other, it was with a sad note that I saw them, three of them to be exact, dead.

The cause of the sharks death was most likely (in fact, we are 99.99999% sure) due to a net that some irresponsible and heartless fisherman had spread and left behind in the inter-tidal area.
Others have written more in detail about our feelings and the story of how we encountered the sharks and the aftermath. You can read them on:
With already so many posts on this sad event, I thought that in this post, I should focus more about the known facts of the black tip reef shark.

First off, I believe many of you (I refer to people who reside in Singapore) would not have believed that we can find sharks in our waters. So after this unfortunate incident and reading this and other blog posts, I believe we have contradicted this belief if you had it.

So what do we know about black tip reef sharks? First, they are known to be found in the tropical coral reefs of Indian and Pacific Region and of course, the indo-pacific seas. So it is not a odd sight to spot them in Singapore as we still possesses a number of reefs in our waters.

They prefer to stay around shallow and inshore waters. And we can usually spot them on land by their exposed first dorsal fin when they swim around in shallow waters. If you are not sure what I mean by that, think of JAWS and how the characters in these shark movies know that a shark is approaching.

At this point, it is important to point out that Black tip reef sharks seldom pose as a threat to humans unless you rouse them. They are also known to be quite timid, so it may swim away if you approach it. But please do not disturb them, because as mentioned, they might attack if being disturbed.

They are also known to stay within close areas to where they are found (most of the time), it is estimated that this distance is about 2.5km. So the ones which died and were found by us are most probably residents of the area. =(

Black tip reef sharks are also known to either live individually or in small groups. So that explains why did we came in sight of three of them.

Sharks are important to the ecosystem as they pose as one of the top predators. Top predators are important are they help to keep the ecosystem in balance.

Let me post a simple example to explain this better, let's say the black tip reef shark feeds on a fish which feeds on sea grass and only the black tip reef shark eats this kind of fish. Take note that sea grass meadows offers shelter and food for many other organisms of our seas. So if the black tip reef shark is removed from the food chain, the population of this kind of fish will be left unchecked and they will eat all the sea grass and therefore lead to a collapse of the ecosystem.

To read more about the importance of top predators, you can visit:

I will stop here as this post is getting a little wordy. So if you are interested to read more about Black tip reef sharks, you can visit:

As a final thought before I sign off, this is why Project Semakau is important to us, including you.
The aim of Project Semakau is to propose to our government to gazette Semakau as a marine park. This is to protect a part of our natural heritage for our future generations and as well as making sure marine animals such as the black tip reef shark has a place where it can safely reside it.