14 June 2010

Signs of coral bleaching at Beting Bronok

Sadly, like at many of our other shores, there is some coral bleaching at Beting Bronok. Several of the large colonies were totally white, like this large Favid coral (Family Faviidae).
Most of the large completely bleached colonies were Pore corals (Porites sp.).But not all the hard corals at Beting Bronok are bleached.

There are many small colonies of hard corals on Beting Bronok. Including many small hexagonal Favid corals (Family Faviidae) in various colours, many Pore corals (Porites sp.). As well as a few Zebra corals (Oulastrea crispata) which is really tough and found on nearly all our shores.
Here are some of the bleaching corals that I saw today. More about coral bleaching in Singapore on Bleach Watch Singapore.
Alas, every time I visit Beting Bronok, I see fewer and fewer coral species. In the past, we used to see many Sunflower mushroom corals (Heliofungia actiniformis).
These mushroom corals were abundant on Beting Bronok in Jun 03.

As well as many different kinds of hard corals including the rare Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi).
Cabbage coral seen on Beting Bronok in Aug 05

Even species commonly seen elsewhere like the Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) and Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) are no longer seen on Beting Bronok.

Also missing today where the many large soft corals we saw last year. Today I only saw tiny colonies of flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae).
Today, I only saw two small Ball flowery soft corals. Unlike on our previous trip when there were many large ones.
Fortunately, the bleaching doesn't seem to be affecting the other kinds of cnidarians on the shore. I saw several Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) and none of them were bleached. There were also very many Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi) today, and I saw four Glass anemones (Dofleinia sp.). We also saw the Haekel's anemone (Actinostephanus haeckeli)
The dominant cnidarian on Beting Bronok remain zoanthids, mostly Button zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.). These animals carpet vast stretches of the shore making it impossible to walk without stepping on them.Some of the sea pens are still present. I saw one Slender sea pen (Virgularia sp.) and several flowery sea pens (Family Veretillidae). But I didn't see the other kinds of sea pens sometimes seen on this shore.
Beting Bronok still has lots and lots of these dreaded animals. These are stinging hydroids, colonial animals that pack a powerful punch! Here, they are found in two forms: a 'bushy' shape or a 'grassy' shape. In both, tiny transparent shrimps can be found among the stinging 'branches'. Often all that I can see of the shrimps are their large eyes.
Another kind of hydroid commonly seen on Beting Bronok are these pretty orange fern-like hydroids (Sertularella sp.). Here you can see the tiny polyps on the 'branches'. These polyps have really tiny feeding tentacles. Other hydroids seen in abundance today were the Candy hydroids in bright orange and red, and I saw one Ribbon jellyfish (Chrysaora sp.).
It was sad to see virtually no sea fans (Order Gorgonacea) today. In the past, Beting Bronok was home to a glorious variety of sea fans in all shapes and stunning bright colours.
Sea fan garden at Beting Bronok, Jun 04.

Although this shore remains full of interesting creatures, to me, every year I visit Beting Bronok, it seems a little less rich. I've been visiting this shore since before reclamation started nearby. Here's some old photos of marine life at Beting Bronok.

More about the other marine life seen at Beting Bronok today.

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