Saturday, July 23, 2016

Coral bleaching at Semakau East

On 23 Jul 2016, we visited Semakau East to check out the coral bleaching situation.

It seems that the reef is doing badly. We estimate about 70% of the hard corals and 40% of the leathery soft corals are bleaching. We estimate 5-10% of the corals have died recently.

 Above are three photos showing extensive bleaching in most hard corals. 

Bleaching happens when corals (and also other cnidarians) lose the symbiotic algae in their bodies which help produce nutrients. It is the algae that give the animals their colour. Scientists think that most bleaching is caused by an increase in sea surface temperature. Find out more about bleaching in the Bleach Watch Singapore blog.

Even the anemones also suffer from bleaching and they do turn pinkish when distressed.

It's really a heartbreak to see both bleaching and dying corals while the others continue to hang on.

On the positive side, some of the coral species are still hanging on such as this huge Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora).

Some of the soft corals are still doing alright.

It's a consolation to see some of these animals that we often find on our shore trips such as this Feather star (Order Comatulida).

This slug with purplish bumps is known as the Black phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella nigra).

The special find of this trip would be this Curryfish sea cucumber (Stichopus vastus). Think it's my first or second time seeing it! We hardly see them on our reefs. The animal may disintegrate if it is handled or take out of water for a long time. So please don't touch it.

It's good to also know that the Fluted giant clams (Tridacna squamosa) are not bleaching.

Let's hope that the shore will recover with new beginnings such as the dawn that we see in this photo.

More photos of the trip here:

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