We approach Terumbu Semakau as the sun rose under dark clouds. This submerged reef is just beyond Pulau Jong (the little 'char siew pau' shaped island on the horizon), and very close to the Semakau Landfill (the Transfer Station is to the right). The city on the skyline is less than half an hour away!
On the other side of this amazing submerged reef are the refineries on Pulau Bukom!
I'm delighted to see that the corals on the edge facing Pulau Semakau are nice and healthy. I only saw one slightly bleaching hard coral.
Tongue mushrooom corals (Herpolitha sp.).
Asparagus soft coral (Family Nephtheidae) that were rather pale. On the right is the usual purplish colour, on the left, not so good. I didn't see any bleaching Leathery soft corals. I'm rather nervous as we approach the summer season. Kareen tells me there are already reports of coral bleaching in the Philippines. More about coral bleaching on Bleach Watch Singapore.
Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)! But it was tiny! About 10cm long. Much too small to be involved in breeding. So we leave it behind to grow up.
Banded filesnake (Acrocordus granulatus)! It was just resting among the rubble. These snakes are associated with mangroves, and there is a huge stretch of mangroves on Pulau Semakau!
Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) on Terumbu Semakau. These large sea anemones come in a wide range of colours. The body column may be pale pink, shocking pink, orange or yellowish. Tentacles may be purplish, bluish or green. Truly magnificent!
Clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) live in these large anemones. At low tide, however, sometimes the poor fish is stranded when the anemone is out of water! I gently put this mama clownfish into a pool of water and she was quite fine. The tide was turning in about a half an hour and I'm sure she will be happily reunited with her anemone then.
Bubble tip anemones (Entacmea quadricolor). This one didn't have bubble shaped tips, which sometimes happens.
Maretia ovata. But we can't be sure until the specialist takes a closer look at the specimen.
Phyllidia varicosa nudibranch which I seldom encounter. It has a dotted black line on its grey foot! Unlike many nudibranchs which have a flowery gill on the back, these nudibranchs have gills on the side of the body. Besides the two tiny yellow rhinophores on top (which looks like one of the bumps), the nudibranch also has tiny tentacles near the mouth on the underside!
Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) is still cropped short, compared to our last trip here in Dec 2011. I could see lots of short blades sticking straight up.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) although most was heavily covered in epiphytes. I also came across some patches of Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata). I didn't come across any Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium) which we have seen here in the past.
Indo-pacific dolphins (Sousa chinensis), Alex told us they saw about 6 playing in the water near St. John's Island last week!
The rescued clam will join some other wild clams from our shores as part of Mei Lin's effort to breed them and hopefully repopulate our reefs with these magnificent animals. Find out more about this project in Jose Hong's article in the Straits Times and on Mei Lin's blog.
More trips ahead as the low spring tides continue. But every day, the low tide is a little later. Tomorrow, I get to sleep, wake up call at a luxuriously late 5am!