Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Boat graveyard at Terumbu Pempang Tengah

It's our last season of morning lows for the year before we usher in the evening low spring tides from October onwards.  For our last submerged morning trip with a super early 0300 departure, we surveyed Terumbu Pempang Tengah.

One of the interesting features of this reef is the sunken boat found off the reef in the direction facing Pulau Hantu and Bukom. In fact, this location is marked on the navigation chart as a place where dead boats are dumped and thus also can be called as the boat graveyard.

However, the reefs of Terumbu Pempang Tengah are very much alive especially at certain stretches with rich coral growth. 

I tried to relocate the aggregation of mushroom corals which I called as the mushroom jackpot and could not exact find it because of the growths of Sargassum seaweed. The waters were ripply because of the wind and this photo shows the best spot with a Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae) and many surrounding Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae).

Here's a video taking in the dark with a torch showing the mushroom corals from beneath the water surface.

And there are many other types of mushroom corals including the Tongue mushroom coral (Herpolitha sp.) and Feather mushroom coral (Ctenactis sp.).

There was a good variety of other types of hard corals including the Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.), Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.), Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora) and Turbinaria Coral (Turbinaria sp.).

There were also some colonies of Acropora corals (Acropora sp.) and the one found at the reef edge is much bigger.

I even found a Black frogfish (Family Antennariidae) resting beside the Acropora corals!

Here is another frogfish that I found among the tide pools. It looks like a lump of black sponge if it remains stationary.

Some of the hard corals look very pretty with their tentacles extended out when submerged in the water!

While other hard corals are homes or playground to marine critters! Here's a photo showing three Red egg crabs (Atergatis integerrimus) and also another Blue-spined swimming crab (Thalamita sp.) with the corals in the background.

There were quite a number of the Spoon-pincer crabs (Leptodius sp.) found in the minefield of Montipora coral (Montipora sp.).

On the rocky areas, there were also some of these fierce-looking Red-eyed reef crab (Eriphia ferox) with bright red eyes!

The Red swimming crab (Thalamita spinimana) is quite handsome with its red body and blue appendages.

We are relieved that most of the soft corals are not bleaching! The ones I came across looked normal.

One of my favourite finds of the day would be the Feather star (Order Comatulida) on the Leathery soft coral!

I came across 3 Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica) and one of them is home to the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).

There was also a Bulb-tentacled sea anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) found at the reef edge.

The two types of flatworms that I saw were the Dawn flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis) and numerous Black spotted flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.).

Not many slugs were spotted either though I came across the Black phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella nigra) and Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata).

At night, the Reef octopuses were quite active and it is always fun to see how their colour changes with the surrounding that they try to blend with.

The only sea cucumber I saw on the reef would be this Stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora).

For some unknown reasons, there were many Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma) swimming around. With the ripply waters and deep areas I was wading in the dark, it made me nervous as I tried to avoid them. 

To end off this post, shall share with you guys this photo of the Spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus). Think it's the first time I saw this and it is special because it has large scales in a 'distinctive pattern' which looks like a kind of diamond pattern.

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