Sunday, May 18, 2014

Coral overdose at Tanah Merah

We are back at the reefs of Tanah Merah! I'm constantly amazed at the diversity and abundance of hard corals that grow on a reclaimed shore!

As today's tide was lowest at daybreak, we could enjoy a better view of the coral-scape with the cityscape at the far background.

And here's a wider landscape shot showing you the numerous hard corals exposed on a super low spring tide.

A wide variety of corals reside on this shore and many of which are representatives of those that we only find on pristine reefs such as the Lettuce hard corals (Pavona sp.), Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), Brain corals (Family Mussidae), Acropora corals (Acropora sp.), Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.),
Ridged plate corals (Merulina sp.), Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi) etc.

At certain areas, we encountered many of the Circular mushroom corals (Fungia sp.)! Wow!

Here are more mushroom corals found together with other corals.

At the deeper ends, there were even MORE corals though it's a bit splashy. This is a stunning blue colony of the Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.).

And this Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.) colony is really huge- a size that we only would find on special reefs.

This Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) is quite interesting as there are some of its tentacles sticking out a lot longer than usual.

A special sighting would be this Hedgehog coral (Echinopora sp.) which we have only seen at Raffles Lighthouse, Semakau, Pulau Jong and Terumbu Raya.

Here are some photos showing how jam-packed the hard corals can get on this shore!

This part of the the reef is quite silty but we are surprised at how resilient the corals are as they can still grow very well. Could it be because this reef is situated in a bay which is relatively sheltered from strong wave action?

Another look at the diverse and colourful hard corals found close to each other, ranging from branching, plate-like, encrusting and boulder forms of corals. :)

There were quite a number of the large Long spined black sea urchins (Diadema sp.) found on the reef.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this huge black-version of the Brown striped flatworm (Pseudobiceros gratus). It was as big as nearly my palm size!

Talking about worms, I caught a glimpse of this sneaky Giant reef worm (Eunice aphroditois). Usually one end of this super long and huge worm would be found in the burrow while the part with its head and mouth will extend outwards to look for seaweed to snatch for food.

There was a huge colony of the Stinging hydroids near the edge of the reef. I didn't get to go closer to see if there are any commensals living in it.

This is probably my first time finding the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) at the reefs facing the sea. It was quite huge but no nemos though.

As the reef was mainly dominated by hard corals, it was good to spot yet another anemone. This Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) is home to nemos! Are there any inside? 

And viola! Yes, there lives a shy Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus) that peeped at me once in a while though it did not dare to venture out of the anemone. 

Just like previous trips to this reef, there were Eight-banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus) that swam close to the corals as they mainly feed on coral polyps. The photo on the left was taken with the spines of the urchin!

We went over to check out the corals near the Ferry Terminal and were glad to know that they are doing alright. As the tide was turning, we didn't get to properly survey this stretch.

In my brief check along this reef, there were some nice sightings such as these two Fan worms (Family Sabellidae) growing with the hard coral.

As the waters here are clearer, there were larger colonies of the rarey Acropora corals (Acropora sp.).

We managed to also take a quick look at the lagoon and saw that the patches of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) doing very well with many Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni).

And I'll never fail to get bored looking at the multi-patterned Dubious nerites (Clithon oualaniensis).

Today's trip was a relief for the hard corals in Tanah Merah as corals from some parts of the region are currently affected by bleaching events. Tomorrow we will look at a natural reef to see how it is going.

The shores near Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal are now off limits and trespassers will be arrested, such as this incident in Nov 2013. We obtained a permit to do our survey today.

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