11 January 2011

Singapore corals on the EDGE of Existence

32 corals have been globally identified as being on the EDGE of Existence!
The EDGE of Existence programme supports conservation projects for top ten of these EDGE coral species.

The species chosen for EDGE Coral reefs represent an extraordinary range of genetic diversity, growth forms and ecological adaptations and many have mutual relationships with the fish and invertebrates that live in coral reef habitats.

Are any of these special corals found on Singapore shores?

Yes! The Mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis) is among the top 10 EDGE corals.
According to the EDGE blog, the mushroom coral is home to at least 15 shrimp species and to a pipefish which lives exclusively on mushroom coral. Unfortunately, this species is popular in the aquarium trade but the effect of this harvest on the population is unknown and needs reviewing.
Sunflower mushroom hard coral (Heliofungia actiniformis)
In Singapore, this mushroom coral can still be seen at Pulau Semakau and Pulau Hantu. They were previously seen at Beting Bronok but were no longer seen there on our most recent trips. More about our mushroom corals.

MORE Singapore corals in the EDGE list

The following are some corals found on our shores which though not on the top 10, have been selected as EDGE species that are extremely evolutionarily distinct and threatened, and are currently receiving little or no conservation attention from other organisations.

The beautiful Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora) is sometimes seen on our shores.
This one was seen on Pulau Jong which lies near the Semakau Landfill and near Pulau Bukom with major petrochemical plants, as well as Pulau Sebarok which houses the bunkering facilities for our port. Here's more about recent trips to Pulau Jong.
Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora)
Another coral considered special and which is widely found on our shores is Zebra coral (Oulastra crispata). How nice to see that Jeffrey Low's photo has been used in the fact sheet on this coral.
This coral is sometimes seen encrusting even litter such as bottles! It also remains common on the oil-slicked reefs at Tanah Merah.
Zebra coral (Oulastrea crispata)
What a surprise to see my photo being used for the fact sheet on Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi)! This photo was taken in 2005 at Beting Bronok and sadly, we have not seen this coral on our recent trips there. Fortunately, the Cabbage coral has also been seen on some of our other shores.
Here's a closer look at the Cabbage coral.
Cabbage coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi)

Check out the corals on the EDGE of Existence programme for more about reefs and the threats to them. The programme also has a blog which featured the launch of the EDGE coral reefs today.

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