Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back to eastern Semakau

Yesterday evening, I was back on the eastern shore of Semakau assisting Yikang in doing GIS mapping for Project Semakau. The last time I visited this shore was during clam hunting with Mei Lin exactly one year ago. I had a good look at the shore while walking around with Yikang to map out the different zonations.

How are the reefs doing after the recent period of coral bleaching? Most of the corals I came across were at the verge of total recovery or are already fully recovered. I hardly came across any corals that are bleaching badly.

Click to see how the shore looked like from Terumbu Semakau in June this year.

At some stretches of the reef edge are densely packed corals. Nevertheless, I feel that the corals are even much denser a year ago. My guess is that some corals didn't made it through the coral bleaching, thus they died resulting in lesser corals on the reef.

I'm sure these magnificent corals will come back. Here are a good assortment of the survival corals that are looking healthy and well-coloured.

Most soft corals like this Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) are also back into their usual colours. I only came across one colony that is still bleaching.

The eastern shore of Semakau is full of these Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica)! They are very pretty and sometimes their tentacles are tucked within their body column like a ball.

Here is one where there is a False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) swimming among the tentacles.

For most part of the mid and high shore was totally covered with blue-green algae or cyanobacteria bloom. This made walking very difficult because we do not know what we are stepping on beneath the mat of algae!

I'm not too sure of the exact impacts of these blooms on the shore. Maybe they will block sunlight for some of the corals or anemones? Unfortunately, I witness a poor uprooted Magnificent anemone floating above the mat of the algal bloom.

A stretch of the sandy shore near the rock bund was not affected by the bloom. Over there, I came across the Hell's Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.).

I was excited to witness for my first time the Banded file snake (Acrochordus granulatus) in Singapore's shore. This snake was probably sleeping.

And later on when the dusk fell, I also saw this Dog-faced water snake (Cerberus rynchops) which is common in mangroves. Indeed, this shore is just next to the replanted and natural mangroves of Semakau.

Ah hah! My first time spotting this Slender sea pen (Virgularia sp.) at Semakau. They are usually more common at our northern shores.

This is a colony of the uncommon Branching anchor coral (Euphyllia paraancora). Do you spot something else in this photo?

At the bottom left of the above photo, there is actually an orange eye!! I suspected it was a stonefish. I tried to check it out and the eye closed! Weird but true, the eye belonged to what looks totally like a rock. It was hard too. I'm still puzzled till now. Hmm

July shared with me his find of a huge Cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea)!

But the best find will be this sea cucumber that none of us have ever seen before!! The team doing the survey found it! It is very pretty, with bright orangey-red spots.

Here is its mouth and underside showing its tube feet. This is indeed an exciting find!

Ending of this post with a glorious sunset with Yikang in the photo. It's great to be back soaking in the beauty and wonder of nature.

More photos of the trip:


Unknown said...

Lovely pictures. Just wondering which part of semakau did you see the cyanobacterial bloom? From the pictures, it looks like it on north eastern part of semakau?

Unknown said...

yup, it's the north eastern side! quite cool that you could figure that

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