Pulau Sekudu: a part of Chek Jawa

Pulau Sekudu has gorgeous natural rock formations, a little patch of mangroves, fabulous seagrass meadows. It lies just off Chek Jawa (the white Chek Jawa beacon is in the left corner of the photo) and is thus an important part of the Chek Jawa ecosystem.

Pulau Sekudu means "Frog Island". Why does it have such a name?

Why Frog Island? A local legend tells of the tale of a frog, a pig and an elephant who decided to race across the Johor Straits. The elephant went first, and didn't make it. The pig went next, and also came to a sad end. Finally, the frog made a leap for it, but alas, met with the same fate (local sea legends tend to be rather tragic). The pig and elephant became Pulau Ubin, while the frog became Pulau Sekudu. (Yes, I hear you say "But Pulau Ubin is one island and not two!" Here's a more eloquent telling of the tale and an explanation of the two-in-one island on the Pulau Ubin Stories blog).

Pulau Sekudu does indeed have a frog-shaped rock on it (on the right corner of the photo above).
Here is a closer look at the "Frog Rock", someone had added eyes and a smile. Oh dear.

Pulau Sekudu has surreal rock formations.
Joseph Lai has a lovely article about these rock formations at Ubin on his eart-h.com

To the south of Pulau Sekudu you can see the housing estates of Punggol and Pasir Ris in the distance.
To the north, just across a narrow channel is House No. 1 on Chek Jawa!

Being rather inaccessible, Pulau Sekudu is an important sanctuary for plants and animals. Should something happen to Chek Jawa, such as the mass death in early 2007, Pulau Sekudu could be an important source of recovery.

And indeed, on a visit after the mass death, we found that Pulau Sekudu was not as badly affected as some parts of Chek Jawa. There were still many large carpet anemones

Living sea stars ...
And colourful sponges too!Pulau Sekudu also has wonderful seagrass meadows.
Tiny Pulau Sekudu lies next to a major shipping lane leading to Pasir Gudang and Sembawang Shipyards and naval facilities. This lane is used by commercial vessels as well as military ones.
This beautiful and fragile island has also been subject to much harvesting. Fishermen regularly set fish traps and driftnets all around the island.

A group of volunteers visited in Dec 07 to remove as much driftnets as they could.
Abandoned nets are found everywhere, even among the huge boulders in the middle of the island where fishermen usually hang out.
Just as heartbreaking is the ugly graffiti that is found on almost every surface of these gorgeous natural rocks.

Suddenly, someone yells "Monitor lizard in a net!" It was still alive and struggling badly in a net that was wedged in a narrow crevice between the boulders.We had a hard time trying to get the poor little animal out.
The guys managed to gently cut it free of the drift net.

On this trip two kayakers were also encountered.

One of them had a bucket full of soft corals (photo by Andy). They were made to return this bucketful. But who knows how often or how many people come to remove marine life from this beautiful island?

Several huge fish traps were also hauled out.
A fisherman who came up to the island while the volunteers were there had quite a haul.In his boat, he had a bucket full of flower crabs, a large catfish and two Noble volutes (photos by Andy).
He was later also seen in the distance placing driftnets in the waters near Chek Jawa.

Pulau Sekudu is now off limits!
A permit is now required from NParks to land on Pulau Sekudu (see this word document on the NParks website) and the area indicated on the map above is now known as “Chek Jawa Wetlands”, is managed by the National Parks Board (NParks), under the Parks and Trees Act 2005 and the Parks and Trees Regulations 2005.

Unfortunately, the regulation is not strictly enforced. Kayaks, sailing boats, even jet skis not to mention fishermen and other collectors continue to land on Pulau Sekudu. Here's an account of such landings on the reddot blog.

Ironically, if Pulau Sekudu and Chek Jawa are left unmolested, there will be more fishes in the sea for the fishermen. The seagrass meadows and other intertidal habitats of Chek Jawa and Pulau Sekudu provide shelter and food for young fishes and other seafood. Here they can grow up before moving off into deeper waters.

More links
Taking nets out of Pulau Sekudu with 12 comments. This post was also submitted to tomorrow.sg
wildfilms trips to Pulau Sekudu with links to other blog entries about trips to Sekudu.
photos of pulau sekudu on wildsingapore flickr

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