Monday, September 21, 2009

Plentiful corals at Semakau

Today a small team of us went to a new shore at Semakau for Mei Lin's giant clam surveys. I first found out about this stretch from Ron's exploration earlier in July and his blog captivated my attention. He told me there's several Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea) here so here we go on this reef on our very first evening tide after the morning lows.

During the lowest tide, I walked all the way to the reef crest and noticed lots of corals at the edge! It is truly amazing! At the background is Pulau Jong.

One of the more special corals sighted will be this Branching anchor coral (Euphyllia paraancora).

This coral can produce long sweeper tentacles that can sting powerfully. These tentacles keep the area near the colony clear of other competing animals such as other corals and encrusting organisms. Their tentacles are white tipped with a U-shape. Sometimes, a living fanworm can be found among the coral.

This shore seems to have an unusually high number of Brain corals (Family Mussidae), especially at the reef edge. They come in different forms and colours.

Of course there are hard corals that are boulder-shaped.

And those hard corals that have starry tentacles or small rounded polyps. These include (from top left clockwise): Encrusting disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.), Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) and the Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.).

Plate-like hard corals found include (from top left clockwise): Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.) and the other three are all Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.).

Semakau is one of the few reefs that one can still find several of these pretty Sunflower mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis). These solitary corals have only one big polyp and they are not attach to the substrate. They are easily mistaken as anemones due to their long tentacles.

On one of the "botak" corals, there is a piece of sponge art on top at the bare patch. It consists of a mosaic of colourful range of sponges. It's fascinating to find such a sighting on the reefs. Haha.

Of course there are also plentiful of soft corals lying on the shore. They will look much nicer when the tide returns.

Among corals, there are other reef animals that live among the reef. Pls read another post on these interesting animals!

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