Mass coral bleaching in Singapore is not unexpected. From the NOAA's coral reef watch satellite monitoring, Singapore is in the yellow Watch zone. Where we should be prepared for mass coral bleaching.
What is coral bleaching?
Coral are colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp lives inside a little hard skeleton. The huge colony is made up of the skeletons of countless polyps. The polyps of all reef-building hard corals harbour microscopic, single-celled algae (called zooxanthellae). The polyp provides the zooxanthellae with shelter and minerals. The zooxanthellae carry out photosynthesis inside the polyp and share the food produced with the polyp. Corals generally have white colour skeletons, which is believed to assist in photosynthesis by reflecting light onto the zooxanthellae.
|Large colonies with dead portions and unbleached portions.|
|Bleaching near the Jetty.|
Disk coral colony was still alright, I saw it on our last survey here in Apr 2016. About 50% of the disk corals I saw were alright, others were not bleaching but had portions that look like they died recently.
Cauliflower coral and one Sandpaper coral and they were both bleaching.
Anemone corals were bleaching and dying. I did not see any Mushroom corals.
leathery soft corals and about 50% of them were bleaching.
Frilly sea anemones and only one was bleaching. I also saw this bleaching corallimorph. About 50% of the Sea mat zoanthids I saw were bleaching, but most of the Button zoanthids were alright.
Spoon seagrass. There were many Haddon's carpet anemones, many with anemoneshrimps, none were bleaching. There were also many Common sea stars. But the special find of the day in the seagrasses was this Vitate conch. The first time I've seen one alive. Thanks to Tan Siong Kiat for the ID.
Spoon seagrass and Tape seagrasses (with long leaf blades).
High res photos of mass coral bleaching in Singapore for free download on wildsingapore flickr
Others on this trip: Jonathan Tan, Yi Feng,