Saturday, April 18, 2009

Corals of the Great Reef part two

Here's the long awaited part two of the corals from the Great Reef aka Terumbu Reef. Finally submitted my thesis, so I could find some time to finish this off today.

I had shown some interesting corals during the first part which are mainly boulder corals.

Here's the little surprise! There was this faviid coral that looked like it had a sad or frowning face. But seriously speaking, I wonder what happened to this poor coral. Was it hit by something or predated upon? Hmm...

My underwater camera had a good swim at the reef edge, as you can see from the blue background in the direction of the reef slope. It was really cool to be surrounded with corals (not quarrels =_=).

The brown ringed like boulder coral is probably a Big o-ring favid coral (Family Faviidae) and the green one on the right is a Pebble coral (probably Astreopora sp.).

I fell in love with the Pebble coral! Their small corallites are usually a blunt conical shape, giving them a pebbled appearance.

This is another similar-looking coral but it is a Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora). This coral, unlike the Pebble coral, is much rarer in Singapore's shores. Their corallites are regularly spaced out which gives them their overall regular tidy pattern.

Their large polyp tentacles are said to emerge at night, how cool is that. I wish I can see it for myself one day (or I should say one night...hehe).

Terumbu Reef is a place where you can find many Pectinid corals (Pectinia sp.).

Though they have a smooth layer of thick tissue, actually beneath is a thin and fragile skeleton with delicate fluted patterns. Sometimes you might find the Banded fan worm with this coral.

This Pectinid coral looks slightly different and it is possibly Pectinia lactuca.

Next to this Pectinid coral in the deep waters are some free living mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae).

I especially like this Smooth mushroom hard coral (Family Fungiidae). Their neat looking walls have tiny teeth which are hidden when covered by the living tissue of the animal, so that the walls appear smooth. Somehow this coral looks quite cartoon to me :-)

Another mushroom coral is this sunflower mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis). No prizes to guess why they are called sunflower corals. They are sometimes mistaken for anemones as their long tentacles block their hard coral skeleton.

Another commonly-mistaken-for-anemone coral is this, adequately named, anemone coral (Goniopora sp.). Their long coral polyps retract when out of water.

I am not quite sure what this is but it might also be a Goniopora sp. according to my friend. Could it be a Small goniopora coral (Goniopora sp.)? Hmm...

This huge colony of branching corals are the Montipora corals (Montipora sp.). When in water, they are good hiding places for animals such as seahorses!

How about corals that look like plates on the ground. The upper surface of this Ringed plate coral (Pachyseris sp.) has ridges that are parallel to the growing edge, often forming concentric rings of ridges.

One more similar looking plate-like coral will be this Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.). Instead of ringing around in a concentric fashion, their thick and short corallites walls form meandering valleys and ridges, radiating from the centre of the plate to the edges.

Yeah, there's just so much about hard corals from the short two hour moments at the Great Reef! It's very exciting indeed.

Last but definitely not the least, just to let you know that they are also soft corals there like this Omelette leathery coral.

Thanks to some of my labmates who helped a bit with the id of some corals. Otherwise I will still be frantically searching for its identification.

Hopefully by my next time out at the reef, I will be at a better position to tell different corals apart.

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