Saturday, August 6, 2016

Coral bleaching at Terumbu Pempang Laut

On 6 Aug 2016, we visited Terumbu Pempang Laut for a coral bleaching check. However there are not many corals on this shore as compared to the rest.

We estimate about 20-30% of the hard corals are bleaching. About 20-40% of the leathery soft corals were bleaching. We estimate 20-30% of the corals have died recently.

Here's a look at the bleaching (and dying) Leathery soft coral (Family Alcyoniidae). 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.

It's my first time seeing a bleaching Frilly sea anemone (Phymanthus sp.) with blue-tipped tentacles. Such unusual colours usually appear when they are stressed.

Here's a photo of a bleaching Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum).

However, not all corals are bleaching. Here are some of the leathery soft corals that still retain some of its photosynthetic algae.

It's a surprise to find the Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia talpina) on this shore as mushroom corals are usually found on more pristine reefs.

The space between the branches of the corals make good hiding place for commensals such as this  Face-banded coral crab (Tetralia nigrolineata). This crab has a bandit-like dark band across its broad face.

It's good to know that the resident Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) is still doing well with no signs of being bleached.

Some lovely sightings include this Strawberry cockle (Fragum unedo). The strawberry cockle has red lines or beads on its shell.

As well as this beautiful flatworm.

And there's also quite a fair bit of activity and company with the shore birds foraging for food!

More photos of the trip here:

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