20 March 2015

Singapore's last western reefs are alive!

A sliver of natural reef escaped the Tuas reclamation. It is now Singapore's last natural western reef.
This is home to some spectacular creatures and we had a great time visiting to see them yesterday.



Yesterday, the tide was low enough for us to safely cross the water to the Beacon! The water was clear so we could enjoy the underwater fantasy world found in here.
Stunning colourful sea fans of all kinds.
Another cluster of sea fans.
More sea fans.
I accidentally took a photo of a Winged oyster, a kind of clam that grows among sea fans. But we didn't see any other commensals on the sea fans.
Among the sea fans I saw were large clumps of Skinny sea fan, small colonies of Candelabra sea fans, small colonies of Gnarled sea fans and large clumps of Flat-branch sea fans. I didn't come across the pink Tree sea fans that I used to see here.
This is the scariest thing to come across in the water. It's Stinging hydroids. Their sting is like a jolt of electricity and the burn lasts for months! This is why we should always cover all skin when working in water.
Among the sea fans, hard corals too!
In deeper water, I saw several very large colonies of plate shaped corals, about 50-60cm across. They were all Disk corals of various kinds.
There were several of these large Disk corals that were not bleaching, but had a 'fringe' of seaweed growing on the edges. I hope this doesn't mean that the growing edge of the colony is at risk?
Some of the Disk corals were bleaching. Perhaps about 10%.
All the boulder-shaped corals that I saw were not bleaching. There were some Favid corals and most were Pore corals. Some of the Pore corals were quite large, exceeding 60cm.
There was one Anemone coral and it looks like it is about to bleach.
Colourful soft corals of various kinds.
There were many small Ball soft corals dotting the deeper waters. I saw a cluster of Feathery soft corals. There were also many small clusters of flowery soft corals including a few small colonies of Pink flowery soft corals.
Dotting the sandy bottom are Cerianthids, and clusters of what appear to be Starry leathery soft corals.
I saw many small Haddon's carpet anemones. But I couldn't find anemone shrimps in any of them.
I saw one Snaky sea anemone that was half retracted into the sand.
A 'bouquet' of sponge, soft corals and seaweeds.
There were some sponges here and there. The most abundant being the Melted chocolate sponge that coats the rocks.
It was like an underwater garden!
There were also still many Fan clams alive and well. Providing a hard place for all kinds of other plants and animals to settle on.
Kok Sheng found four gianormous 8-armed sand stars! Our first sighting for Tuas.
We also saw one Biscuit star, and Kok Sheng found a pretty pink Cake sea star.
Marcus found two of these pretty Bornella nudibranchs, our first sighting for Tuas.
There were sea cucumbers of all kinds. The most abundant were Long black sea cucumbers, also some Thorny sea cucumbers, as well as one Garlic bread sea cucumber and one Beige sea cucumber. I also noticed Ball sea cucumbers buried in the sand.
We came across 6 dead large Oval heart urchin skeletons. I'm not sure why so many are dead. But I also saw several living Cake sand dollars.
The beacon is surrounded by rocks encrusted with all kinds of marine life.
Also on this shore, a scatter of mangrove trees near the seawall.
Today, a large bird was foraging here. Is it the Great-billed heron?
Here is Sheryl, the very special woman who has been looking after Tuas Merawang Beacon shores for 8 years and counting. Together with her colleagues of MSD, the company that is located along the shoreline, she has been monitoring the lush seagrasses that grow here under TeamSeagrass. She also makes all the tedious arrangements so that we can make these surveys. Thank you Sheryl!
This shore lies very close to the Forest City reclamation at the Johor side of the Strait. Here's more of what we saw of the reclamation yesterday.

Our last trip here was in Dec 2014. We hope to make more frequent visits to this shore.

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