Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Coral bleaching check at Terumbu Bemban

This morning we were out for our first and only southern trip for the series to check out the coral bleaching situation. How are the corals in our waters doing?

Terumbu Bemban was chosen as today's field trip site because it has a stunning reef edge crowded with lots of corals. And from this photo, most of the corals seem to be alright!

Here's a closer look at the same patch of coral and none of them are very white or completely white. This is a relief.

This is yet another patch of corals at the reef edge. Looks fairly alright as well!

Whereas this patch shows a few boulder corals that are partially bleached. You can even see two white round shapes at the deeper ends.

After checking out the shores, I realized that some of the boulder Favid hard corals (Family Faviidae) are affected with a few of them looks like they are quite badly bleached.

With my underwater camera, I also managed to take some shots of corals that showed signs of bleaching.

The bleaching seems like it is ongoing or not as serious as the 2010 bleaching event as most of the corals are not completely white but does show signs of bleaching.

And here are some shots of the Mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae) that also looked slightly bleached.

The hard coral on the left that is bleaching quite badly is the Ringed plate coral (Pachyseris sp.).

It's quite a mix for the Circular mushroom corals as some look like they are alright while some are bleaching as shown from earlier photos.

Nevertheless, we are glad that about 80-90% of all the hard corals are still looking healthy with their colours given by the photosynthetic algae named as zooxanthellae. This is quite a huge difference from the estimation of 40% hard corals that were unbleached during our 2010 survey on the same reef.

This photo shows again a non-bleaching coral with the slightly bleached Acropora corals (Acropora sp.).

Most of the soft corals (as shown on the left) are still doing alright. That's a good sign for now! In 2010, the soft corals were badly affected by the bleaching event.

I like this photo of the Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) where its brown and healthy tentacles are swaying with the currents underwater.

More photos of the coral reef-scape of Terumbu Bemban below:

Reefscape 1


Reefscape 3

I came across four of these Bulb-tentacled anemones (Entacmea quadricolor) and they don't look good. As you can see from this photo, they are slightly bleached.

And these anemones are homes to the Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus). Let's hope that the anemone hosts will recover as it would affect the nemo as well.

A special sighting on the reef edge would be this active Yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina). It eventually swam into a crevice underneath corals and probably stayed there.

This orange Smooth red sea cucumber (Actinopyga sp.) has been sighted a few times in the south and we wonder do they grow up to become the Stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora).

A single red Feather star (Order Comatulida) was found at the reef edge and I didn't see more. This is kind of peculiar as we usually see them in large numbers on southern shores.

I heard a loud breathing sound and turned towards that direction... only to realized I was very near a sea turtle that surfaced! Sigh, no time to react and take photo of the turtle.

Unfortunately, I stumbled upon an abandoned driftnet and there was a Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus) that was very badly entangled with the net. It took me a long while to cut all the associated parts of the net to release the poor crab.

I spent most of the time on one end and took some time to walk to the other end to check out the bleaching situation. There were some white tops of the boulder hard corals.

The Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea) are doing perfectly fine and almost none of them looked stressed. All brownish on the outside and blending well with the rocks.

Here's a photo of Marcus at the reef edge on the side facing the live firing islands. The corals here are generally alright!

The only flatworm I saw on this trip would be this Blue-lined flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.).

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

Also common found would be this Polka-dot nudibranch (Jorunna funebris).

James Koh who joined us back today after a long hiatus found this Bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis).

And to end off, a pair of Black phyllid nudibranchs (Phyllidiella nigra) that I came across. 

We will continue to monitor the southern reefs next month and will be keeping our fingers crossed that the corals will not deteriorate.

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