Sunday, June 30, 2013

First visit to Terumbu Hantu

It's the last of the long week of super low tides and since the haze situation has improved and stabilised, we decided to resume the boat trip designated for Terumbu Hantu. It's my first time visiting this submerged reef!

This reef patch is situated right beside Pulau Hantu (where trees are in this photo) and right behind is the petrochemical facilities of Pulau Bukom.

At certain stretches of the reef edge, there are quite a number of different types of hard corals.

I'm not too sure what the yellow hard coral colony is but it does look similar to Trumpet coral (Caulastrea sp.) with its fleshy tissues expanded when submerged in water. As for the green hard coral, it is yet another mystery.

This Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.) is not the usual ones that we often see on our intertidal trips to the southern reefs. 

Another uncommon coral that was sighted would be this Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi). Unfortunately, it looks partially bleached.

Similar, many mushroom corals also show signs of bleaching. This is not a good sign and we hope it is on the onset of yet another coral bleaching event.

Nevertheless, it is good to see a good variety of hard corals at the reef edge. Here are the photos taken by the DSLR camera.

And here are the photos of hard corals taken underwater by the UW camera.

This is how the reef edge looks like from Terumbu Hantu, with Pulau Hantu at the background. Can you see a big mass somewhere in the photo? Do you know what it is? :)

Yes it is a Long-spined black sea urchin (Diadema sp.) and there are many small fish that surrounds the urchin. This could be some forms of symbiosis taking place?

The waters are not super clear but good enough for me to take a photo of the Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum) on the left and also a bleached Bubble tip sea anemone (Entacmea quadricolor) on the right.

If you were to give a closer look, there is a small submerged reef in between Terumbu Hantu and Pulau Hantu.

It is probably an unnamed reef that is part of Terumbu Hantu.

More exciting finds of the reefs of Terumbu include this large orange Cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea).

I later found yet another cushion star and this individual is prettier in greenish purple! It has a nice underside of orange tube feet.

Chay Hoon found many of these gorgeous tiny sea stars underneath rocks. They look like the Tiny seven-armed coral stars.

There is a similar looking sea star in Neville Coleman's book identified as Aquilonastra corallicola and he indicates that it usually has seven arms and is found amongst corals.

As Mei Lin and Kareen were around, it was great for Ria to find a living Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa). This giant clam is still not as large as the adult ones and has pretty shades of blue and brown on its mantle.

The waves found on the flesh of the giant clam does have some resemblance to how the Merten's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii) look like when it is not relaxed.

I found yet another of this uncommon sea anemone and you can see its colourful pink bumps on its body column.

What's this clam with bright orange flesh and tentacles when it is open?

This is how it looks like when I took a closer look. This does look like the Lima file clam (Lima vulgaris).

It seems to be the season for the Black-margined nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata) and we saw quite a number of them!

There were also some of the Black phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella nigra) that can be easily sighted.

Other than hard corals, Terumbu Hantu also is home to large colonies of  the Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae).

Can you see a sandy / reefy patch on the top left hand part of this photo?

Yes, there is yet another smaller submerged reef near Terumbu Hantu and it is named as Terumbu Pempang Kechil on the navigation map. We decided to hop into this reef to have a quick look and it looks rather rubble-y with rocks. There is also a small stretch of sand!

Commonly found on rocky shore habitats are these Long black sea cucumbers (Holothuria leucospilota).

Chay Hoon found a Heart cockle (Corculum cardissa)! This one has intricate patterns on the convex side.

Mei Lin later found yet another one that looks slightly different with smooth edge. Not too sure if they belong to the same type.

More mollusky finds of this reef include this snail. Do you know what it is?

This is actually the juvenile version of the Spider conch (Lambis lambis)! It has yet to develop spines on its shell.

Another interesting find would be this Wild Abalone (Haliotis sp.) found by Chay Hoon! It has green eye stalks, a feature that many people didn't know exist in the abalones that they eat. Haha.

Here's the end to this long stretch of super low tides and let's hope the corals will do better over time.

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