Friday, June 18, 2010

Terumbu Bemban: Reef of fish trap

It's my last day of this long week of low spring tide series. And we had a long low tide today, so much that we visited two separate submerged reefs within the morning.

With a breathtaking sunrise, we were all geared up for our first stop: Terumbu Bemban, a reef that we have not visited before.

As the tide was not really out yet, there was some difficulty in identifying which one exactly is the reef we want to go since there are also quite a number of other submerged reefs around. Here is Ria trying to find the right spot while we are already on the dinghy!

Haha! And here we were, landed on the reef while the tide is still outgoing. That means wading in knee or waist level, depending on how tall we were. It's indeed quite an adventure!

Soon, the tide receded quickly and the reefs were exposed. Terumbu Bemban's literal translation is Reef of fish trap. And how apt it is to see a huge triangular fish trap at the reef.

Soon it was time to have a look at how the corals are doing since coral bleaching as affected almost all our reefs. Some of the hard corals like these boulder Favid hard corals (Family Faviidae) are still not bleached.

But as usual, most of the Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) are in the midst of bleaching. Instead of the usual brown, it is now yellow.

I had a quick look at the reef edge facing Beting Bemban Besar and Pulau Semakau. Once again, bleaching was observed, especially with the soft corals, while some hard corals were bleached, some were not.

It was good to find a large colony of the Ringed plate coral (Pachyseris sp.) that is healthy.

At the reef edge, there are also many beautiful pinkish Barrel Sponges (Rhabdastrella globostellata).

I went to have a look at the reef at the tip closest to Raffles Lighthouse.

And noticed that there are lots of sponges that are colourful! Sponges means more chance to find nudibranchs since the latter eats them.

And indeed, I found this group of three Black-margined nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata)!

3 Black-margined nudibranch together from Loh Kok Sheng on Vimeo.

Here's a video that I took of these 3 pretty slugs. They seem to be quite in season these days.

Another slug that I came across will be this Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella pustulosa). In addition, the Black phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella nigra) was also found.

An exciting match of penis fencing was spotted by me! This pair of Spotted black flatworm (Acanthozoon sp.). Find out more about penis fencing here.

Here's a collage of the bleaching corals that I saw at Terumbu Bemban.

While there are also many corals that are still doing well. We estimated that around 40% of the corals at this reef is still unbleached.

Let's hope that the recent cool weather will help the bleaching corals regain their photosynthetic algae which will help them regain their colour and food-making ability.

More photos of the trip here:

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