Saturday, June 6, 2015

Life at the edge at Terumbu Raya

We are back at Terumbu Raya after about one year! Terumbu Raya is translated into The Great Reef from Malay. The reef edge of Terumbu Raya, especially the side facing Pulay Semakau, is known to be breathtaking!

As today's tide was long and low, I walked further to survey the stretch facing Beting Bemban Besar and was surprised to find lots of mushroom corals! This unexplored stretch is a gem.

There are lots and lots of Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae) and occasionally some Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp.).

There's lots of life at the edge of Terumbu Raya! There are lots of hard corals of all sorts exposed or semi-exposed during a very low spring tide. I even managed to capture a shot of the Blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma) in this photo.

There are also hard corals at the edge, such as the Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.) and the green Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.).

Many of these corals are packed quite closely to each other, forming a mosaic of colours and patterns.

Sometimes the coral colonies can grow to such an enormous size, such as this huge patch of Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.)! You can estimate the size by comparing with my shadow. Hahaha! This huge patch of anemone coral is located at the side facing Beting Bemban Besar.

Here's an assortment of some of the hard corals seen on this trip. They take on different forms and colours.

There are also many corals that remain submerged during the low spring tide and that didn't deter me from documenting them. Thanks to my underwater camera, here are some shots taken today.

I managed to stumble upon the Physogyra Coral (Physogyra sp.). Physogyra species are rarely encountered on our intertidal shores as they are mainly found subtidal. These hard corals are unique in having large bubbles that obscure their skeleton.

I realised that some of the Brain corals (Family Mussidae) look pale and are likely to be undergoing bleaching. These corals are usually among the first to be affected when the sea surface temperature goes too high.

Here's another shot of a white Brain coral on the left and also a bleaching Trumpet coral (Caulastraea sp.).

Several of the mushroom corals are also bleaching and the white circular marks on the reef are quite prominent at one glance.

What is unique about Terumbu Raya would be the presence of many Bulb-tentacled sea anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor) at the reef edge.

Many of them are home to the Tomato anemonefish (Amphiprion frenatus). However, these fishes are usually quite shy and it requires patience to wait for them to come out.

I managed to also stumble across this rare Leathery sea anemone (Heteractis crispa). They have long tentacles with purplish tips. This individual seems to also be slightly bleached.

Another uncommon anemone sighted would be this Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum).

We revisited this Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) and I also saw another one along the reef edge. Looks like they are doing well.

The Cushion star (Culcita novaeguinea) is a sea star that is not uncommon on pristine reefs of the south. I have never seen them on our northern shores though. 

How nice to come across this uncommon Tiger cowrie (Cypraea tigris)! According to the Singapore Red Data book, although this cowrie was considered one of the commonest cowries of the Indo-Pacific, and present on Singapore reefs in the past, the tiger cowrie is now exceedingly rare.

To end of the blog post, here's an underwater shot of a cute Spotted-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus) found by Russel. Frogfishes are interesting because they have a bait-like structure that lures smaller fishes or prey into the area their the mouth and before you know it, the frogfish will have its meal.

More photos of the trip are found in my facebook album:


GSE said...

so cool, wish I can see more pics! I'm from N. California and I would love to make a trip out to Singapore one of these days to visit these natural reefs!

GSE said...

I see eggs in that first picture with the tomato clown!!!

Unknown said...

yes! thanks for pointing out the eggs! :)

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