19 June 2011

First trip to Terumbu Selegie

In the first light of dawn, we land on a small submerged reef a short distance from the mainland.
A big orange beacon marks the Terumbu.
It's our first trip to Terumbu Selegie! What will we find here?

This tiny submerged reef is among the last that we have yet to explore. It lies just off Pulau Tekukor and near the Sisters Islands and St. John's Island. According to Infopedia by the National Library of Singapore, "the word "selegie" is believed to be a Malay word that refers to a wooden spear sharpened and hardened by fire. There is also a Bugis pirate race known as Orang Selegie."
The reef is mainly a rocky shore.
On the horizon is Sentosa, with the tall buildings on the mainland.
Among the most abundant creatures on this reef must be the Black long sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota). There were lots and lots of them. Many crammed under rocks and stones.
The other abundant creature on this shore were Frilly anemones (Phymanthus sp.) of all kinds of colours and patterns.
There were also several Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea). I was delighted to find a Three-spot dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus) in one of them. Kok Sheng first saw one of these on Cyrene Reef. The juveniles of these fishes are said to be often seen living in large sea anemones, sea urchins, or branching corals. When they grow up, the adults are found in pairs or small groups around coral mounds or rocks.
Also living in the sea anemone, a pair of anemone shrimps!
Mei Lin showed me the tiny Seven-armed sea star! I don't know how she can spot it among the encrusted rocks. It's my first time seeing this, although Chay Hoon has spotted it on Pulau Jong and Cyrene Reef earlier. Other interesting echinoderms seen included a heart urchin and a tiny orange star found by Ivan!
While the rest saw lots of nudibranchs, I only saw one Phyllidiella pustolosa. There were many Elegant banded creeper snails in the sand. Ivan and Kok Sheng found a strange cowrie under the stones. While the rest also saw octopus.
There is a steep 'hump' of sand in the middle of the Terumbu, ringed with a layer of small pieces of countless dead corals. Was there a reef here in the past? What happened to the reef?
Today, I didn't see many living hard corals on the Terumbu. The most abundant hard corals were Pore corals (Porites sp.) with many large and small colonies, most of them were not bleached.
There was a variety of Favid corals (Family Faviidae), but these were not as plentiful as they usually are on our other shores.
It was a nice surprise to see two boulder shaped Horn corals (Hydnophora sp.), a kind of coral I don't often see.
I also saw one Acropora coral (Acropora sp.) and one small boulder shaped Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.) which I don't often encounter.
I saw one Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) and several encrusting Montipora corals (Montipora sp.) as well as several encrusting Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.).
I saw a few off colour or half dead coral colonies. But most of the hard corals were not bleached.
I saw all the usual variety of Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae), although there were only one or two colonies of each kind. I also saw a few colonies of Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea).
There were small clumps of feathery soft corals too.
As well as a few clusters of zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea).
There were also many sponges on the shore, especially the encrusting and ball shaped ones.
In small clumps and clusters, there were the usual variety of seaweeds. As usual, there were lots of green seaweeds.
As well as red and brown seaweeds. I didn't come across any patches of seagrasses.
On the other side of the reef are many large ships parked in a nearby designated 'parking zone'. On the reef, there were signs of recent boat strikes. I also came across some overturned corals and large stones. But we didn't come across any signs of fishing on this shore.
It was good to finally have a look at this small submerged reef!

Posts by others who came on this trip
  • Kok Sheng with a video clip of the Three-spot dascyllus, heart urchin and the strange cowrie.
  • Mei Lin with lots of nudis and more!
  • James with anemones, nudis, ribbon worm, echinoderms and more.
  • Russel on facebook with lots of colourful photos.
  • Rene on facebook with interesting fishes, spider, sponge crab and more.
  • Jerome on facebook with lots of landscape and other sightings.

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