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Singapore s southern islands pollution and solutions

Pulau Hantu

Pulau Hantu, a few hundred metres away from Pulau Bukom, also has rich reefs with a large variety of corals. Pulau Hantu is a favourite with fishing and snorkelling enthusiasts because of its sheltered beaches, swimming lagoons and inviting waters. It is also popular with campers and day-trippers.

Tourism for that area may have led to improper waste disposal by the tourists. People may litter plastic bags etc around the area and thereby posing a threat to the wildlife there. People may also unknowingly disturb the reefs and marine ecosystem as a whole as they probably lack the awareness of what to do and what not to do.

Pulau Bukom

Houses the refineries of the Shell Petrol Company. The waters around the island is home to the Cyrene Reefs. Oil leaks from underwater pipes will cause sunlight to plants and corals to be blocked, affecting the food chain. The oil may also change the pH of the waters, which will affect the corals as they are highly sensitive to such changes, there for killing them.

Cyrene Reef, which is of a size of 60 hectares. It is also in the middle of a busy shipping lane. Cyrene Reef has stunning seagrass meadows, is rich in echinoderms. It is home to Knobbly sea stars, soft and hard corals, acorn worms, flat worms and nudibranches and lots more.

PollutionThe constant movements of ships around the area means that ships may discharge their wastes in the area, and the contamination of the waters may cause the animals such as the sea stars etc, to be poisoned by these wastes. A decrease in population of the sea stars will result in shrimps, scale worms, harlequin crabs and sea star crabs to drop drastically, as the sea star is host to these creatures.Also, as Pulau Bukom is an island used for oil refining, there is a lack of trees on the island. Thus soil runoff is a source of pollution. The nutrients in the soil entering the water may cause the corals to die easily as an increase in nutrients will result in the corals being swamped by algae, competing with the corals for nutrients. Wastes leaked into the waters will affect the pH of the waters, and corals are highly sensitive to such changes and as they are made up of calcium carbonate, they maybe destroyed if the water reaches and acidic pH that they cannot tolerate. 

the corals also act mainly as a shelter for fishes. Without corals, these fish may migrate to other areas or get eaten up by predators, resulting in a decrease in the fishes' population. This may result in competition for food by its predators.

Singapore’s Southern Islands: Pollution and Solutions

Pulau Sudong, Pulau Senang and Pulau Pawai

The 3 islands are used by Mindef for live firing exercises by the Navy and Armed Forces periodically.


The used ammunitions, if it manages to enter the waters around the islands, may cause heavy metal poisoning, as the ammunitions contain metals such as nickel and lead. Gunpowder will also contaminate the waters. Heavy metal pollution can cause the pH of soils and waters to change and the heavy metals will be accumulated in organisms. Some plants are known to accumulate these metals in themselves, and plants being at the bottom of the food chain, will affect the whole ecosystem in the area. Heavy metal pollution results in neurological and reproductive problems in organisms and also death.

Pulau Semakau

Land fill island. The original Pulau Semakau which was not affected by the landfill construction has an enormous intertidal area which is rich in wildlife. The natural mangroves there shelter a wide variety of plants and animals, many no longer seen on the mainland or other islands. There is a vast seagrass lagoon, possibly the largest in Singapore. The coral reefs that line the edge of the island also thrive with marine life. This marine ecosystem still exists as efforts have been made to protect it while the land-fill process is carried out.


In the event of leakage from the landfills into the sea, ashes from incinerated wastes will promote eutrophication , blocking sunlight to the sea plants, killing them and thereby affecting the population of the other consumers in the ecocsystem there.

Pulau Semakau is surrounded by fringing reefs. Destruction of these reefs will have numerous implications on marine life that inhabit these coral reefs. Species that live in these coral reefs or coral rubble include the Ocellaris Clownfish, Tigertail Seahorse, Blue-Spotted Fantail Ray, Hairy Crab and Mosaic Crab. Being an island that is accessible to humans, land pollution would be something that is hard to prevent as not everyone who visits the island will make a conscious effort to not litter or pick up any litter that they may encounter. Land pollution may kill or destroy the mangrove habitats as well. The Porcelain Fiddler Crab lives in these mangroves, with the habitats affected, their population size will decrease as well. Species of birds that prey on the Fiddle Crab such as the Sandpiper and the Striated Heron are bound to suffer in terms of availability of food. Lastly, the Ocellaris Clownfish share a symbiotic relationship with certain species of sea anemones. The Clownfish receives daily shelter and protection from predators as the Sea Anemones are able to sting predators and deter them from attacking these clownfish. The clownfish are also able to breed in these anemones. The clownfish protect the anemones by preventing predators such as butterfly fish or turtles from attacking the anemones as they attack in the absence of a guest fish. As such, if the clownfish population decreases, the anemones will be much more vulnerable to attackers. This is a vicious cycle as a decrease in the population of sea anemones would affect the population of clownfish as well.

  • Precautions

  • For islands with tourism:

  • Guided tours to be made mandatory for islands that are polluted by tourists to ensure they do not litter.

  • Inform tourists on the importance of conserving environment through notice boards or pamphlets

  • Heavy fines can be implemented as a form of deterrence to those who litter.

  • Encourage NGOs to take care of island or ‘adopt’ islands, less burden on single organization.

  • Patrols for islands

  • - Coast guards will patrol seas surrounding islands

  • - Rangers patrol the islands themselves

  • Fence coastal areas up except for areas to be made open to public

  • - Minimises possibility of sea pollution

  • Promote ecotourism

  • Spread awareness about the environment

  • For Islands with industrial purposes:

  • Current measures for Bukom:

  • Strengthened pipes

  • Leak Detection System

  • For Pulau Semakau, silt membranes are in place to prevent ash from flowing into the waters. Trees are planted to ensure soils do not erode away.

  • There should also be more frequent checks for islands that are of industrial purposes, such as Pulau Bukom

  • Ensures that problems will not have long term negative effects on the eco system

Sister’s Island & St. John’s Island

St John’s Island is rich in biodiversity with both hard and soft corals. it also houses the tropical marine science institute. there are quite a number of recreational facilities there like camp sites and chalets

Sister’s Island

Rich in biodiversity. It has corals giant clams sea horses and octopus. and its" warm and blue waters" make it a snorkelling favourite