31 March 2013

Two Terumbus in one trip!

We land at first light on Beting Bemban Besar! The tide is a little high but we have a lot of ground to cover on this very large submerged reef.
We also hop over to nearby Terumbu Bemban as part of the recce for the Mega Marine Survey's  upcoming Southern Expedition in May.


Beting Bemban Besar is one of our largest submerged reefs, with Terumbu Bemban lies just next to it.The tide was still a little high when we first landed, which meant a longer walk in water before reaching 'dry' land. This is nerve wrecking as we really don't want to step on Mr Stonefish. Also, Mr Stingray, we saw one zooming past us in the outgoing tide.

I saw many Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) of all kinds of colours and patterns! In about the same area where I saw them on my last trip here in Aug 2012.
The Knobblies were gathered together in a small part of this huge reef. They also seem to do this on Cyrene Reef as well as Pulau Semakau. Why do they do this? So much more to learn about our marine life!
After a quick look at Beting Bemban Besar, we hoped over to have a quick look at Terumbu Bemban. Thanks to Jumari, who found the best place to pick us up and drop us off.
Helen has amazing spotting superpowers! She spotted two seahorses among the Sargassum. Can you spot them?
Here's a closer look at one of the Tiger-tailed seahorses (Hippocampus comes) which are often seen on our reefs.
We also had a look at the many little colonies of Xenia soft corals (Heteroxenia sp.) that I found here on my trip in Apr 2012. They have tall feeding polyps with large feathery tentacles that pulse slowly in the water. And between the taller polyps, are tinier star-shaped polyps that suck in water to inflate the colony. Joo Yong is studying them closely as part of the Mega Marine Survey efforts.
There were also all kinds of other corals and marine life on the reef. The tide was a little too high to have a look at the best parts.
I came across this Drill (Family Muricidae) stuck firmly to a clam. Drills are so named because the snail can indeed drill a hole through the shell of its prey, by secreting an acid that softens the shell, then rasping with its rough 'tongue'. But this takes a long time.
There were lots of these Dawn flatworms (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis) on the shore today. I didn't manage to see any slugs though.
We all came across some interesting and strange sea cucumbers. Here's one of them. Joo Yong has been working hard to get our common yet unidentified sea cucumbers sorted out. Hurray! So now, she has a few more to work on.
Wah, I came across this small mangrove seedling that settled on the reef. I'm not sure if it will survive.
Sunrise, with emissions from the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom nearby.
The Sargassum season (Sargassum sp.) is almost over, with many Sargassum seaweeds 'losing' their 'leaves'. But there was large amounts of this fresh green seaweed, possibly Bee hoon seaweed (Chaetomorpha sp.) entangled among Sargassum seaweed. I've not seen this before. I don't know what this bloom of green seaweed means.
Sadly, there were many large fish traps on both Beting Bemban Besar and Terumbu Bemban.
I disabled the traps and inside one of them was a Stonefish (Synanceia horrida)!! Ivan had stepped on a Stonefish on this reef in 2010 and we were all scarred for life by the incident. Thank goodness we didn't have any injuries on this trip!
More about the Mega Marine Survey and how ordinary people can volunteer for this once-in-a-lifetime effort!

I missed the trip by TeamSeagrass to Pulau Semakau this morning. Seems like they had a great time! Thanks to Rachel, Siti, Nor Aishah, Wei Ling and the many regulars for leading another successful seagrass monitoring trip!

Another exciting trip happening this weekend, is dives to check whether our corals are getting ready to spawn. It's about that time of the year again! Chay Hoon shares what they saw during the dive, no spawning but lots of interesting marine life. More about last year's coral spawning event.

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