Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Probably the best mainland reef?

The best place to find healthy and species diverse corals in mainland Singapore is probably Tanah Merah. I was in for a surprise when I explored the reefs off Tanah Merah for the first time this morning. There are just so many corals and of different species that one will not imagine seeing at mainland Singapore.

As you can see, the waters are pretty clear with different species of corals densely living with each other. The corals are mainly huge especially for the boulder corals. It just feels like I am at one of the best reefs of our Southern shores like Terumbu Raya or a bit of Raffles Lighthouse.

There are a wide spectrum of hard corals on this shore that is only exposed at super negative low tide. Today is not that low, so I got all splashed and wet while documenting these corals.

Firstly, there are quite many of Favid hard corals (Family Faviidae) found. Most are the Maze hexa favid coral.

This favid coral is the Columnar hexagonal favid corals.

This one is the Jigsaw maze favid coral. The corallites form meandering walls creating short, crooked valleys. The result is a regular fine pattern that resembles a jigsaw puzzle or a maze on the coral. :-)

Within the high shores, there are many of these Bean-shaped ring favid coral. The colony is generally an irregular boulder shape. Colours seen include brown, orange, green and blue.

Other than faviid corals, there are also abundant growth of Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.).

The tide was not very low, but the rather clear waters at Tanah Merah still allowed me to appreciate the lettuce corals.

The corallites are poorly defined, separated by ridges. This results in a distrinctive, fine, intricate pattern of short lines on the surface of the Lettuce coral.

The leafy structures of the Lettuce corals are perfect hiding places for animals like tiny clams living among the 'leaves'.

And it is surprising to know that the growth of Lettuce coral is extensive, as good or even better than our Southern shores!

Lettuce corals are not as boring, they can come also in bright green colours. Very cool looking to me.

There are also Boulder pore corals (Porites sp.) that have tiny corallites and polyps.

Corals come in different forms. Other than the boulder-like corals and leafy-like corals, there are also corals that are plate-like.

Thin Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.) is an example of a plate-like coral and it has corallites in low rounded bumps, somewhat evenly spaced out.

Another type of disk coral one can find at Tanah Merah will be this Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.). With the polyps extended, the colony looks like a flower-studded disk.

Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.) are very pretty underwater with the starry feel. An interesting fact about cauliflower corals is that they may produce short sweeper tentacles that clear the surroundings of competiting corals and animals.

Another starry-like coral will be the Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) due to their star-shaped corallites and polyps.

Yet another species of coral found will be this Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata). The colony tends to be encrusting and grows even where it is often exposed to air at low tide and in muddy waters. That is why we found this coral at the higher shores too today.

Well, if you think that there area already quite a lot of corals... it's not over! Below are more different species of hard corals on the small stretch of reef area.

Brain corals (Family Mussidae)

One colony of the Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.).

Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.).

Probably also Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.).

Probably yet another Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.).

And this hard coral that I do not know what it is.

Last but not least, extensive growths of the Acropora coral (Acropora sp.)! Larger colonies like this one in Tanah Merah can only more commonly seen on undisturbed and remote Southern reefs.

Acropora corals play an important role in coral reefs as they are among the important building blocks of a reef.

I am amazed by the wide variety and extensive of growth in the corals of Tanah Merah! It's quite hard to believe we still have such good coral reefs thriving well on a mainland site. I wonder why! Could it be that this part of Singapore's waters is not so affected by sedimentation as much as our other Southern shores? Could the corals be actually relocated here from somewhere else during a Salvage project? Could this site be a good coral sink location (where sources come of our southern islands or even Indonesia), thus explaining for such a proliferation of coral growth? So many questions but so little answers.

I explored only about like 15% of this reef today because the tide was not super low and that it was hard to move around in a densely packed coral reef area so as to avoid stepping on them. Can't wait to explore more of it again on probably a lower tide.

1 comment:

Ivan said...

Wow. I'm speechless.

That's it, here's another shore I have to visit during the upcoming holidays.

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