Sunday, July 29, 2012

Underwater splendor of Terumbu Pempang Tengah

Last Saturday, we were on a predawn trip at Terumbu Pempang Tengah, a submerged reef which is only exposed during low spring tide. For the first time, I took some time to explore the reefy stretch near the deeper waters.

And I hit the mushroom coral jackpot! I have never seen so much mushroom corals aggregated together on an intertidal trip. Yes, this is not a diving nor snorkeling photo.

These are the Circular mushroom corals which are usually only found on better reefs.

Bliss is when you find these corals together with your favourite animal such as this Cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea)! These are moments that I will say "Thank you Lord!" for such wonderful sightings.

I gently placed the cushion star on clearer and shallower water to take a prettier shot with my DSLR. Indeed, the colour came out a lot nicer.

At the reef edge, one can find thick growths of hard coral encrusting on the surface of the substrate. They are really huge!

This is an underwater shot of the Disk coral (Turbinaria sp.) in many layers. Indeed, space is a limiting factor when the reef is just so crowded with life.

Wow! Here's a large and scary-looking sea urchin with more long white spines than black spines. I didn't really have a closer look to verify if this is the Long-spined black sea urchin (Diadema sp.).

Some of the hard corals look real pretty underwater when their tentacles are all puffed up such as this Euphyllid coral (Family Euphyllidae) with U-shaped tips.

Here is another colony of Euphyllid coral with brown coloration and is larger than the previous one.

When I first saw this from above water, I thought it is a Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum).

With the help of my trusty underwater coral, I later realize it is actually a colony of Favid hard coral (Family Faviidae) with weird blue anf brown coloration. Is this a sign of bleaching?

These two Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha limax) are so huge that I think they are equivalent to grandmas and grandpas of their type.

Here's sharing more spectacular underwater views of the reefs. This photo shows lots of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.)!

Another shot of the reefscape of the shore exposed during low tide. Indeed, it is crowded with lots of corals.

Before we focus on other creatures, feel free to take some time to enjoy this photo collage of the various types of corals found during the trip.

Moving on and looking beyond the brown sponge and Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.), there are quite a number of Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica). I love how they sway their bright purple tentacles with the currents and waves.

I also stumbled upon this rather-bleached Bulb-tentacled anemone (Entacmea quadricolor).

More anemones on the higher shore include the Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) in different patterns and coloration.

A first sighting for me will be this 'Neon' sea anemone which was recently sighted on our southern shores by various people.

The body column of the anemone has bright neon coloured blotches or stripes.

The star find of the day will be the Lima file clam (Lima lima) found by Rene! Furthermore, their tentacles are in electrifying red colour!

Here's a look at the 'lips' of the clam! Stunning isn't it!?

Yet on a more sombre tone, we also saw a huge fish trap with the orange Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), Eightband butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus) and the adult version of the Yellowtail or Vermiculated angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus). Thankfully, the intrepid team destroyed the trap and released the fish.

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