Monday, July 4, 2011

Underwater garden of Sentosa at Serapong

For my first time, a team of us get to visit another of Sentosa's natural reef off Serapong.

This shore is very much alive and colourful, just like an underwater garden!

Among the first creatures spotted will be the stunning Red feather stars (Class Crinoidea)! Two of them are perched on a huge Barrel sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria) at the reef edge.

Later on during our exploration, we saw lots more of these feather stars clinging on to rocks and corals. Can't imagine to find so many of them at Sentosa!

Here's another pretty red feather star, this time relaxed and showing its arms extended in a clear pool of water.

I had a look at the reef around the Berhala beacon. The beacon is named as Berhala because this used be part of a small island off Serapong of Sentosa, Pulau Berhala Reping.

And wow, the shore is packed with hard corals and soft corals of different colours!

Indeed, this was really a treat for all of us who were there. The coral assemblage is indeed impressive. At times, we forgot that we were at an island so near to mainland, surrounded with so much development.

That's not all! There was an area where lots of Acropora corals (Acropora sp.). Lots is probably an understatement as the extent of the colonies is just too huge. A sight that we do not see anywhere else in our local intertidal reefs except in Raffles Lighthouse, the southernmost point of Singapore.

Here is Mei Lin in the photo to show a part of the huge spread of the Acropora corals. Acropora corals are also known as table top corals and this is quite evident today. We seldom really see huge table top structures of these hard corals intertidally in Singapore.

Did you see a black patch in the photo among the corals?

Here is a closer look at this mysterious wavy looking creature which I have not seen before. Is it a sponge or a soft coral? I wonder.

This is not a snorkeling nor diving photo. This is another view of the vast spread of Acropora corals seen intertidally today!

On the higher shores, there was a tinier colony of Acropora coral with a Face-banded coral crab (Tetralia nigrolineata) living among the branches. This crab has a bandit-like dark band across its broad face.

More hard corals seen today include lots of colonies of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).

Here is an assemblage of other types of hard corals taken using my DSLR camera from above water (of course).

And here is an assemblage of hard corals taken beneath water with my UW camera. The reef here is indeed stunning. It was nice to see the Mole mushroom corals (Polyphyllia sp.), Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.), Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora), Bracket mushroom hard coral and Carnation corals (Pectinia sp.).

There were also a few Brain corals (Family Mussidae) seen today such as this green colony.

At other parts of the shore, the reef was also packed with leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) in all sorts of shapes and colours.

Here is James with a huge leathery soft coral!

Here are many colonies of the Black-and-white leathery soft coral (Cladiella sp.). In fact, most of the leathery coral species that we see on our local waters are very much well represented on this shore.

This uncommon soft coral looking animal is probably actually not a soft coral but we currently named it as the Leathery sea fan.

Serapong reef has lots and lots of Barrel sponges (Xestospongia testudinaria)!

This photo shows an underwater barrel sponge with other hard corals of different colours. Pretty!

Enough of corals and sponges, are there mobile creatures on this shore? Yes! We saw a few types of nudibranch. For me, I only came across the Phyllid slugs such as this Phyllidiella pustolosa nudibranch.

And this purplish slug is the Phyllidieila nigra nudibranch. We sometimes call them the pimply nudibranchs because of these bumps. Haha.

Flatworms sighted included this Black spotted flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.).

And this Blue-lined flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.) that seems to be in season recently.

There were lots of fishes swimming happily in the waters though photographing them is not easy. I could managed to get good shots of a few of them. This filefish swam past me when I was squatting down and taking a photo of something else.

I came across a couple of these pretty Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) too!

Right at where the beacon is when it was still dark, this reef octopus emerged and remained rather motionless for me to take a nice shot.

Towards the end of the trip, Ria shared with us her find of many Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica)! It was rather deep by the time I reached there. This shore is the closest to mainland Singapore where one can see these magnificient anemones. Cool right?!

And the last creature spotted on this trip would be this Dolphin shell snail (Angaria delphinus) found by Ivan from under a rock.

The rest of the team found lots of other wonderful creatures. This trip was made possible by the arrangements by Shao Wei, Xi Lin, Sheila and Sylvester. Thank you for allowing us to have a look at this pretty underwater garden! :)

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