09 May 2016

How are magical reefs of Sentosa Serapong doing?

Among the reefiest natural shores near the mainland is Sentosa Serapong. This shore lies opposite the Tanjung Pagar container terminal and just off Serapong Golf Club. With the kind permission and support of Sentosa and the Golf Club, we survey this shore once a year.
It was a relief to see that most of the corals we saw were not bleaching. And we encountered fascinating marine life such as anemonefishes and more.

There are many Magnificent anemones on this shore. And most of those I looked closely at had at least one Clown anemonefish. During our survey last year, I didn't find any anemonefishes.
The anemonefishes that live in this sea anemone were sheltering in a pool of water nearby while the anemone was out of the water.
I also saw this feisty little Bigfin reef squid.
In deeper water, I saw a humungous Curvespine cuttlefish.
I saw two Reef octopuses stranded on the seaweeds. This one was still half alive so I put it back into the water. The other wasn't moving at all.
The Mosaic crab is the most poisonous crab in Singapore. Its bright markings warn everyone not to mess with it.
I saw this Purple climber crab on the shore. The rest of the team saw some clinging onto branches near the water. This is unusual behaviour. Marcus suggests this might be because they were mother crabs about to release their eggs into in the incoming high spring tide.
Red feather stars are still abundant on the shore, festooning hard corals and sponges.
Marcus found a basket star!
Colourful seaweeds, sponges and leathery soft corals crowd some parts of the shore.
There are still lots of colourful sponges and sea fans under the jetty.
Sponge garden at Sentosa Serapong
We are on alert for coral bleaching on our reefs. Dr Karenne Tun just revealed on facebook 7 May that "We just entered Bleaching Alert Level 2. The rise from Bleaching Warning to Bleaching Alert 1 and 2 were rapid. 2010 paled in comparison." Alert Level 2 is the highest level of alert.
She also shared these data charts.
This is the latest on the NOAA Coral Reef Watch site.

I'm relieved that we didn't see much coral bleaching during this survey. There are still small patches thick with colourful flowery soft corals, sponges and small corals. But I feel the area covered is reduced compared to our survey in Jul 2015.
Near the beacon, there are still some areas of the shore that are thick with leathery soft corals and hard corals of all kinds. Only a few of them were bleaching.
Here's a video of the area.
Living reefs at Sentosa Serapong
The Asparagus flowery soft corals I saw seemed alright. I also saw one leathery sea fan.
I'm so glad to see that the fields of Cauliflower corals that we saw during our last survey in Jul 2015 are still there. And they are all still nice and brown. I didn't see any that were bleaching. I saw a few Crinkled sandpaper corals and they were pale but not bleaching.
The large colonies of Acropora are still there. Although some were a little pale, I didn't see any that were bleaching. There were smaller colonies elsewhere too.
I also saw a few mushroom corals. A little pale but not bleaching. Other common corals that remained alright were Disk corals, Anemones corals and the Merulinid (previously Favid) corals.
There were only a few leathery soft corals and hard corals that were bleaching. Ironically, most of these were in deeper water.
Of the few corals that I saw bleaching, most were Boulder pore corals. I also saw a few Brain corals bleaching.
Much of the reefs, however, was blanketed in a combination of Sargassum seaweed and Hairy green seaweed. So we couldn't see if there were any corals under there and if the corals were alright.
I saw one clump of Tape seagrass. The patches of Sickle seagrass near the beacon was still there. And there were sprinkles of Spoon seagrass (with tiny leaf blades) near the old jetty.
After reading about our trip in April 2011, Dr John Yong, our mangrove guru, shared that the presence of mangroves in Berhala lagoon (outlined in green) probably contributes to the healthy reefs here (outlined in yellow). Thus protecting mangroves also helps protect reefs and visa versa. Thanks Dr Yong! Indeed! We have yet to be able to explore the tantalizing reef outlined in orange as it seems to require a much lower tide. I'm quite certain it is just as, if not more, spectacular than what we have seen so far!
Thanks to Josephine from Sentosa Development Corp and Sheila of Serapong Golf Course for arranging the trip. Also to Shao Wei who unfortunately couldn't join us today. And to Jeremy and Hidayah for driving us there and for joining us for our survey. And to the team who surveyed the shore.

Posts by others on this trip

Those on this trip include Lisa Lim, Tang Yong Jen and Mr Kuet.

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