The air was crisp in the pre-dawn hours. It was invigorating and there was an impending sense of excitement in the air! Early mornings are always my favorite time of day when there’s an adventure to be had and today was no different. Many a times I have got up at 2am to see a sunrise at the summit of a mountain, today’s adventure would be right along sea level.
Ria Tan of Wildshores Singapore had issued an invitation to join her for a shore survey of Pulau Jong and I wasn’t about to miss that opportunity!
I could feel the adrenaline start to pump through my veins. The purpose of the adventure was equally exciting. Ria and the Wildshores team visit the shores regularly to determine if there are any threats to it that are occurring, such as pollution, fishing, or coastal works. They organise these surveys during every low Spring tide, so about 100 days out of the year.
I met up with Ria and her team at Keppel Marina. Ria has 14 years of experience doing this kind of work and it shows in her approach to the job at hand. It was a fast boat that we boarded to reach Pulau Jong, meaning it was only under 30 minutes later that we reached this uninhabited island. The adventure began immediately as the tide was out and there were many hard corals surrounding the island. We had to embark from our rubber craft about 20 metres from shore.
The water was about knee deep and we had to avoid stepping on the various sea life as we made our way to the island. The legends of Pulau Jong always make me smile with their imagery. You see, a junk was once attacked by pirates where the island is now, but back then there was no island. The pirates saw the junk and decided to board the ship. When the captain of the junk saw the pirates, he yelled so loudly that the spirits of the sea turned the entire boat into an island.
I could imagine some of the living coral screaming as well, equally frightened by my ugly foot crashing down into the sea by their home… (the Wildshores team makes painstaking efforts to minimise impact on the marine life during their surveys, we of course watched our steps too)
We were also taught to identify and watch for stone fish or sea snakes, which can be dangerous and quite painful if you’re stung. A little danger is always necessary for a travelled path to be exciting! According to Ria, Pulau Jong is among the last of the untouched islands of Singapore. This is what other recreational Southern Islands looked like before they were reclaimed and developed, such as the Sisters Islands, Kusu Island, St John’s Island, Lazarus Island, and Pulau Hantu.
When I saw the island for myself, it is no exaggeration! I was reminded of pre-historic times, in fact, when I saw the rock composition on the island, it was as if a dinosaur once lived there.
We were given a guidesheet at the beginning of the trip and one fact stood out to me: Singapore has world class reefs. Singapore has about half as many coral species as the Great Barrier Reefs, although our reefs are only 0.0154% in size!
Check out more marine life pictures from James Chua’s Facebook posting
We had to follow Ria for a little while more and see the rich biodiversity of marine life of Singapore ourselves. We were then left to explore the small island by ourselves while the Wildshores team went on to do their survey. We took out our drone and starting flying our craft around the island. We were done and left the island by 10am just in time when the tides are coming in.
It was an amazing experience! You never know Singapore boasts such a rich marine life along its shores until you see it for yourself. We will definitely be back when future opportunities comes up.
Pulau Jong – From the eyes of a drone