21 July 2012

High five on Terumbu Pempang Tengah

Rene found a File clam! What a beauty! We rarely see this lively clam.
Its scientific name is Lima lima, and "lima" means five in Malay, hence the corny blog post title.

The tentacles of this clam have delicate fine rings!
Among the other interesting encounters I had today was a pair of snapping shrimps (Family Alpheidae) snapping at one another. I'm not sure if the disturbance in the water is due to the shrimps moving or due to the power of their snaps!
I came across a Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) with one very tiny 'Nemo', or False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris).
I saw many Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma) and had to be careful in the pool as there were lots stranded in them during low tide. I saw one small Head-stripe goby (Amblygobius stethophthalmus) and a medium sized Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nemathophthalmus). There were also lots of swimming crabs (Family Portunidae).
What a curious creature! I was a little confused by it until I realised it was a Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia talpina) that had been overturned but is now growing to compensate for it. Our corals are tough and never say die!
I was glad to see the strange anemone that I saw here in July 2010, but also sometimes elsewhere. I finally got a closer look at it today. It was hard as they were wedged firmly in tiny crevices.
Here's a closer look at it. I think Marcus is right. It's probably not a sea anemone but some kind of corallimorph (Order Corallimorpharia). We can't really be sure until Dr Daphne has a look at them.
Here's a look at some of the more commonly seen corallimorphs (Order Corallimorpharia) that were on this shore today.
Other anemones I saw included a Wriggly star anemone and several Frilly sea anemones (Phymathus sp.).
Today I did the intertidal survey again and forced to take a closer look, I'm quite delighted by the variety of marine life that is found on this huge submerged reef. Here's a slide show of what I saw during the survey.
There were patchy sparse growths of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), most cropped short, sprinkles of Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) most were heavily coated in epiphytes, and many patches of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii).

As usual, I'm also looking out for signs of coral bleaching. Some parts of the shore is carpeted with large leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) of all kinds.
It's good to see that these leathery soft corals were not bleached.
Compared to the massive bleaching we saw on our first trip to this reef in Jul 2010 at the height of the mass bleaching event.
I came across many colourful coral colonies of all patterns.
In fact, many large coral colonies dotted the reef flat. I didn't see any large colonies that were bleaching.
Many of the large colonies were Pore hard corals (Porites sp.).
I saw many colonies of Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.) and Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.) and none of them were bleached. These two species were among the first to bleach during the mass bleaching event in 2010.
I also came across a variety of other corals including Acropora coral (Acropora sp.), Brain corals (Family Mussidae), Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.), Bracket mushroom coral and Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.)
As usual, the most common coral on this shore were Favid corals (Family Faviidae). I saw many colourful colonies and did not see any that were bleaching.
I saw one small colony of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.) that was very pale pink, and a medium sized colony of Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.) with a pinkish rim near the top. Not sure if this is an early sign of bleaching.
All the Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) I came across were rather pale with yellowish tips. We've been seeing this recently on many shores.
Many parts of the shore were teeming with zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea) of all kinds.
Marcus found three large fish traps laid on the reef. The team dealt efficiently with them.
They found many fishes in the traps.
We arrived shortly before dawn. For the first time in a long time, I noticed there were no emissions over Pulau Bukom in the predawn.
Kok Sheng explored a reefy part of the shore, while the rest saw more special stuff which I'm sure they will share soon. Although I made a brief visit to this shore in April 2012, my last proper survey was more than a year ago in May 2011. There are just not enough low tides to cover all our shores properly!

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