23 April 2011

Return to Terumbu Pempang Laut

This large submerged reef was not suffering too badly from coral bleaching when we last visited in Aug 2010. I'm hoping for the best when we returned early this morning.
On the horizon, Pulau Sudong, one of the Live Firing islands.
I was quite relieved to see lots of healthy happy corals on the shore.

The 'Terumbu Pempang' series of submerged reefs life just off Pulau Hantu and near the Live Firing Islands.
The tide is a little later this morning, so the sun is already up when we head out for this submerged reef. In the background are the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom, already 'making clouds'.
This submerged reef is quite rocky on the outer margins, with wide sandy areas in the middle, and a short spine of a sand bar.
Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) dominated the rocky reefs here. With many large colonies of different kinds crammed next to one another. I didn't see any that were bleaching. This is the most number of large colonies that I've seen in recent trips to the South this year.
All the common Leathery soft corals were present. These are sometimes mistaken for large anemones. But if we look closely, we can see that they have tiny polyps with tiny white tentacles. More about how to tell apart large 'hairy' cnidarians seen on our shores.
There were also many large Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Neptheidae). All those I saw had the typical purplish colour.
As on our previous trip here, once again I see this Leathery sea fan which I suspect is a kind of sea fan because it has a 'wire' at the core of each 'finger'.
I only noticed after I got home that there were many Little colourful brittlestars (Ophiothela danae) in this soft coral!
In some parts of the reef, there are clusters of hard corals, soft corals and sponges. Sneaky swimming camera takes a quick look in the clear water.
Among the rocky edges there are some deep pools with corals and other plants and animals. The sandy bottom means the water is quite clear.
Most of the hard corals were widely spaced apart. I didn't come across an area here where corals grew thickly. But the tide wasn't super low today so we couldn't safely reach the edges of the reef. As usual, Favid corals (Family Faviidae) are the most abundant kind on this shore. Most of those I saw seemed alright, with a few showing white patches or a rather bright yellow tinge.
I saw many colonies of Pore corals (Porites sp.) large and small. Most were the usual brown colour with a few that were pinkish or greenish.
I only saw one colony of Crinkled sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.). This kind of coral was badly affected during coral bleaching last year.
I saw many colonies of Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.). This kind of coral was also badly affected during coral bleaching last year. Some of the colonies I saw today were alright, others had large portions that were still bleaching or dead.
I saw a few large colonies of Flowery disk corals (Turbinaria sp.), most were alright though a few were bright yellow. There were also some colonies of Encrusting disk coral (Turbinaria sp.).
I saw the large colonies of small Goniopora corals (Goniopora sp.) here. Also many small colonies of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.). All those I saw were not bleaching.
I saw several small colonies of Acropora coral (Acropora sp.). Most seemed alright. There were also many colonies of Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.). The only other special coral I saw was one small Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.).
There is a big patch of Montipora coral (Montipora sp.) here! I've not seen such a large patch before. The corals seemed alright.
I saw two Mole mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp.) and one Tongue mushroom coral (Polyphyllia sp.). Although I saw the skeletons of many dead Circular mushroom corals, I didn't see any live ones.
We saw two Fire anemones (Actinodendron sp.). One had tucked in as the tide fell, while the other seems to have emerged with the incoming tide. It's not unusual to see these anemones in shores with seagrasses.
I saw two Giant anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) both with very shy False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris). And one Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) with a pair of anemone shrimps. But I couldn't find the Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica) that I saw on my earlier trip here.
I also saw several different kinds of Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).
I came across several clusters of Carpet corallimorphs. One had strange lilac 'strings' among them. I only noticed this when I got home and processed the photos. I'm not sure what is going on here. There were also the usual kinds of zoanthids (Order Zoanthidea) which were 'well behaved' and did not dominate the shores.
There were a few Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) in the sandy areas, and I only saw one Black long sea cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota).
There are lots and lots and LOTS of fishes in the pools among the rocks. Including some very large Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma). Most were too quick for me to photograph. But I did see this large Fan-bellied filefish (Monacanthus chinensis) and a tiny bright blue baby damselfish. The rest of the team saw butterflyfishes!
The rest of the team saw other interesting marine life including a gianormous hermit crab, strange flatworms and more.

The Sinki Beacon marks the western most part of the Terumbu. Beyond it is Selat Sinki, a major shipping lane, and on the horizon, Jurong Island. In the photo, you can see the growths of seagrasses that is found on almost every part of the rocky-reefs here.
Most of the seagrasses was Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), which formed sparsely especially among the rocky areas. There was also Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) everywhere, particularly on the sandy area in the middle. Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) were very sparse, forming small clumps here and there. Although these seagrasses didn't form dense meadows such as those seen on Cyrene Reef, it was nice to see the seagrasses almost everywhere I went on the Terumbu.
There was also lots of seaweeds on the shore, of many kinds. Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.) was abundant on the higher shores, while there were tame growths of Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) on the lower shores.
This small clump of feathery stuff is probably some kind of red seaweed. My first encounter!
A small boat stayed for a short while off the submerged reef. They seemed to be fishing with lines.
On the way home, I notice the massive construction for the Berlayar boardwalk seems to be nearly completed. I'm still astounded by how huge the boardwalk is and the massive extent of the construction. We shall just have to see later on whether the marine life here has been impacted by this.
As usual, we enjoyed all kinds of snacks brought by team members. Kah Ming shared everyone's favourite childhood snack! They look so cute next to the map of Terumbu Pempang Laut. Unfortunately, the 'hairy sea slug' rice balls I bought didn't seem to be a hit. Must stop making marine jokes about snacks. I thank all the team members who came over the last few days for their contributions to the boat fare.
This is the end of the super low spring tides for this month, so no more adventurous trips until next month. But the tide is still low enough to do more work on the shores. Tomorrow, a trip to Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass.

Other posts about this trip
  • James with giant clam, sea hare, tiny slugs, lots of great closeups of corals.
  • Russel on facebook with butterflyfish, sting ray, lots of colourful corals.
  • Kok Sheng with lot of anemones, giant hermit crab and more, also video clips of giant hermit crab, spider conch flipping itself back and more.
  • Rene on facebook with lots of corals, giant reef worm and fishes


Related Posts with Thumbnails