09 November 2014

Starry on Beting Bemban Besar

Beting Bemban Besar is among the biggest of our submerged reefs. We explore a tiny portion of it during a lovely evening low tide.
Lots of corals, lots of Knobbly sea stars, also giant clam and other special finds.



Beting Bemban Besar likes just off Pulau Semakau.
This submerged reef is among the few with a population of  Knobbly sea stars. I saw 15 of these large sea stars clustered near one another at about the same spot during my last trip here in Mar 2013.
Here's a closer look at some of the sea stars. They seem to be well.
There was also a Cushion star hidden among the sargassum. Chay Hoon found a very large feather star, while Kok Sheng found a rare sand dollar, our first time seeing it here. Beting Bemban Besar seems a rather good reef for echinoderms.
This looks like the Crucifix swimming crab, which I rarely see. It disappeared among the sargassum.
There were lots of colourful fishes zooming around in the water, as well as many squids. I only managed to photograph this one which was staying still as it relied on its camouflage among the seaweeds. Kok Sheng also found a nice Fluted giant clam.
I did a quick check for coral bleaching. A few of the Anemone coral I saw were pale and yellowish (left), but most were nice and normal brown or pink.
As usual, Favid corals are abundant here. Some of the Favid corals were pale or had yellowish patches. But I didn't come across any hard corals that were completely bleaching.
I came across a nice variety of hard corals including: Brain coral, Cauliflower coral, Disk corals, Branching montipora coral, Acropora corals. None of them were bleaching
It was nice to see. Torch anchor coral, the rarely seen Moon coral, Galaxy coral, Carnation coral, Plate montipora corals and Pebble coral. There were of course many Pore corals and they were not bleaching. Also Blue corals which were alright. I didn't see as many corals as I did in Aug 2012, but probably the reefy parts were well covered in Sargassum seaweed. Hopefully, the shade of the seaweed also helps keep the corals cooler and stops them from bleaching.
Pei Yan is flying SG Sea Drone amidst a coral strewn shore. These branching corals sometimes form dense fields which are exposed at low spring tide.
I also saw various kinds of Leathery soft corals and they were not bleaching.
The few Asparagus flowery soft corals I saw were yellowish and bleachy looking.
Many small animals live only among hard corals. Like this little Coral scallop in Acropora coral.
As usual, much of the Tape seagrass I saw were cropped. Although there were some small clumps of long but curly Tape seagrass. I also saw sparse patches of Spoon seagrass and what looked like Sickle seagrass. Kok Sheng saw more seagrasses elsewhere on this large submerged reef.
We arrived a little early and decide to land even though the tide is still rather high. We managed to find a nice sandy spot clear of corals.
As usual, we take photos of each other! While those who landed take photos of those coming in the dinghy, the dinghy people are taking photos of us!
Photo by Marcus Ng
Then we have to walk very carefully in the Sargassum seaweed bloom to avoid stepping on corals and Mr Stonefish. And Pei Yan pointed out a small shark swimming nearby. One more thing not to step on. Pei Yan brought SG Sea Drone today, in her splash proof plastic box.
Alas, there are signs of large fish traps laid on the shore. But they look old and falling apart. There is too much seaweed for us to reach the traps and check them. Sadly, we always find fish traps on Beting Bemban Besar.
At Marina at Keppel Bay, the corals growing on the pontoons are doing well.
This is our last trip for the year with Alex and the awesome team of Summit Marine! There are very limited low tides in December. Our trips with Alex resume next year January. Thank you everyone at Summit Marine for a great year of exploring our shores!

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