08 July 2012

Checking up on Terumbu Raya

How are the corals and seagrasses doing on Terumbu Raya?
The team checks out this humungous submerged reef early this morning.


It's been a year since I visited this submerged reef off the refineries of Pulau Bukom and just across from Pulau Semakau.
We left the mainland at the tail end of a stormy Sumatras with strong winds that forced us to shelter inside the cabin. But as we approached the submerged reef, the weather cleared and the sun peeked out among the clouds. As we got to the reef, a sea turtle made a big splash before disappearing from view.
Today, I'm trying out the intertidal survey again. And forced to really pay attention, I notice there is a lot more seagrasses here than I remember. The growth is rather sparse, but quite widespread. I saw lots of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) as well as some Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) and Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.).
I noticed much of the Tape seagrasses here are cropped short to a similar length, just like they are at Cyrene and at Terumbu Semakau.
I noticed the Tape seagrasses growing on higher ground seemed to be doing less well than those that were submerged. Tape seagrasses growing near corals seemed longer. There's so much  more to learn about our shores.
I also did a check for coral bleaching along the survey line. There are some large hard coral colonies here, and they were all nice and colourful.
There were many medium sized Pore corals (Porites sp.) and they all were nice and brown.
Also abundant were Favid corals (Family Faviidae) of all kinds and none of those I saw were bleaching.
Here's what I saw during the survey.
After the survey, I also looked out for more corals and saw many different kinds. I also used Sneaky Swimming Camera peek at the reef edge facing Pulau Semakau. There used to be lots of corals and large sea anemones here when I last looked at it in Mar 2011. I didn't see as much today, but perhaps because the tide wasn't very low.
Here's some of the corals that I saw. None of those I saw were bleaching. These included: Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.), Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.), Acropora corals (Acropora sp.), Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.), Brain corals (Family Mussidae), Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.), Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.), Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.). I also saw some Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.) and Montipora corals (Montipora sp.). Alicia also spotted a Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia sp.). I didn't manage to go to the coral-rich spot on this reef that I saw last year. So much to cover in such a short low tide.
I only saw a few small leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae), but they all looked healthy.
I did see a variety of sea anemones. There was a Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum) nestled among the rubble.
It was good to see several Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea), one with a very shy 'Nemo', several Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) and Wiggly star anemones. Also one Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.), several Bubble tip anemones (Entacmea quadricolor) and one Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica).
I only saw one tiny Jorunna funebris, but Alicia found a huge Dendrodoris tuberculosa. Chay Hoon and the rest of the team of course found lots more nudis and flatworms.
After that, I had a quick look under stones and rocks. There is a lot of colourful marine life here!
By the time the tide turned and submerged the Terumbu, the weather was very sunny and hot!
The rest of the team had lots more exciting encounters and I'm sure they will share their photos and stories soon. Fortunately, none of us came across any abandoned fish traps or nets today.

Posts by others on this trip
  • Pei Yan had lots of octopus encounters as well as nudis and more. 
  • Russel on facebook with Nemo, seahorse and lots of corals. 
  • Jose on facebook with Knobbly sea star and more. 
  • Chay Hoon on facebook with special slugs, snail and crab! 
  • Sankar was impressed by the boat ride too.

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