09 November 2010

Insanely at Bukom

Still not of sound mind, a small team heads out to make virgin landing on yet another intriguing submerged reef yesterday.
Nothing sticks out above water at high tide, it is only marked by the Bukom beacon. We arrive while it's still a little high, and wade to the slivers of rocks that are just starting to emerge.

Terumbu Bukom is a small submerged reef between Pulau Bukom and Pulau Jong. The reef flat is about the same size as that of Pulau Jong. As usual, it is surrounded by strong currents so it was tricky to land here.
As the tide was still high when we landed, I wandered around taking photos with sneaky swimming camera.
It's a soft coral heaven! With many colonies of different kinds of leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae).
Another happy looking leathery soft coral.
There are lots of different kinds of soft corals here.
There are several Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) on the shore. And this one had a very VERY small False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in it.
A closer look at the tiny 'Nemo' in the anemone! It's so tiny it only has two white stripes.
Soon the tide fell and we could see more of the terumbu. It is dotted with soft and hard corals.
There are many large colonies of boulder-shaped Pore corals (Porites sp.).
There are probably more hard corals here, but I couldn't get to the reefier parts as the tide was rather high and the bloom of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) made it difficult to move safely in the area.
A closer look at some of the hard corals. Most of them were not bleaching.
One or two of the hard corals I saw still had signs of bleaching, and some of the leathery soft corals didn't look too well. Hopefully, they will recover fully from coral bleaching.
The usual variety of zoanthids or colonial anemones (Family Zoanthidae) were seen.
Here's a look at the cushions of zoanthids that dot the shore. They sure look nice underwater.
There were many different kinds of sponges too.
Seaweeds of all kinds grow here.
As usual, the hard surfaces are coated with colourful organisms.
There were many large Blue-spotted stingrays (Taeniura lymma) zooming about in the shallow waters! Some were huge. I was careful not to step on any of them. I didn't see any other fishes, but the bite marks on this coral suggest that this reef is visited by parrotfishes.
Other creatures I accidentally encountered include lots of tiny brittle stars in sponges, and a rather frantic swimming crab. The rest saw octopus, spider conch and more. Of course Chay Hoon found another weird slug.
The most exciting animal encounter has no photos. Just as we were getting ready to land, the others saw a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) peep out above water to snatch a breath of air. Not once but twice. Alas, I missed it both times. I only saw the ripples as the turtle slid back into the water. Grump.

I stopped now and then to look up around me. Here's a view with a gianormous container ship passing the Bukom beacon, and the little dumpling shaped Pulau Jong.
Here's a view with Pulau Bukom's staff apartments.
Here's a view with the Semakau Landfill in the background and the humungous bloom of Sargassum on the terumbu.
The terumbu is quite large. In the distance is Pulau Hantu, with the long Pulau Bukom towards the right.
Soon it was sunset and time to leave. We were blessed with rain-free weather!
Thank goodness for Jumari who always finds a good spot for us to depart quickly and safely despite the horrible currents that are so strong that the big boat couldn't anchor nearby for long.
With this trip, we think we pretty much covered the larger submerged reefs. There are of course, many other smaller submerged reefs that we have not visited yet. There's still so much more to see and learn about our shores!

Others who also posted about this trip

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