02 August 2011

Magnificent part of Semakau

There is a stretch of Pulau Semakau which has lots of Magnificent sea anemones!
This stretch of shore lies in front of the replanted mangroves on Pulau Semakau. The bright purple body columns of the Magnificent anemone dotted the shore in the early morning light.

In the small area I explored, there must be at least 20-30 of these large Magnificent anemones (Heteractis magnifica)! These anemones can tuck their tentacles into their body column. I noticed some of them had patches of very skinny tentacles.
A few of the anemones had False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) in them. But the fishes were very shy. This is the only shot I managed to get of one. Marcus found a strange commensal shrimp that we have not seen before.
Oh, what's this strange animal? The feathery polyps were much larger than the bluish Feathery soft corals (bottom right in the photo) that were so abundant on this shore. I thought they might be Xenia soft corals, but the polyps didn't pulsate.
Here's a closer look at the 'Xenia'. The fat tentacles seem to emerge from a common leathery base which is spotted with tiny flower-shaped things.
I saw a colony of what I think is a Leathery sea pen. The first time I've seen this on Semakau, although we have seen this on shores nearby.
There were some patches of Posy anemones.
I almost missed this superbly camouflaged Durian sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens). Though these seem common on Pulau Semakau, I don't often see them elsewhere.
There were some areas with many hard corals, although hard corals dotted most of the shore. There were many Favid corals (Family Faviidae) with some Pore corals (Porites sp.).
At night, the hard corals often extend their tentacles. Like this colony of Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.). The long skinny tentacles with white tips emerge from the cavities formed betwee the 'leaves' of the colony.
I saw several small colonies of Brain corals (Family Mussidae), some of them with their tentacles also sticking out.
I didn't see tentacles on this pretty Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.), but I saw small pink 'mouths' among the ridges. Apparently, the tentacles of these corals are rarely seen.
I also came across a patch with many Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp). I also saw some healthy Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.). From my brief visit to this shore, I get the sense that the corals are not as thick or diverse as the reefs found just across the channel on Terumbu Semakau. I wonder why this is so?
There were many little fishes, and some larger ones. Like this quiet pair sheltering among the rocks: A Yellow banded damselfish (Dischistodus fasciatus) and a False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis). I also saw a Carpet eel bleeny (Congrogadus subducens), a Worm eel (Muraenichthys sp.).
I came across this 'ball' of little Striped eeltail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus). Marcus and Alicia saw a ball of the same kind of fishes but they were larger.
Alicia found a snake! It's the Dogfaced watersnake (Cerberus rynchops) which is commonly seen on this shore especially at night.
Today we started well before dawn and enjoyed a lovely sunrise! Here's a view of the Semakau reef with Pulau Jong and the Semakau Landfill transfer station and seawall on the horizon.
Another view with Pulau Bukom on the horizon and on the left, the edge of the natural mangroves on Pulau Semakau.
And here's a view of the reef with the rest of the Landfill seawall and the replanted mangroves on the horizon.
As the tide turned, I had a quick look inside the replanted mangrove area.
And came across a long driftnet laid deep within the trees. Oh dear. The net was mostly buried and seems to be in advanced stage of 'decay'. I didn't see any animals trapped in them. I'll try to find another time to come back with the Project Driftnet team to remove it.
Flaring was going on at Pulau Bukom while we were on shore. It was most obvious when it was still dark, the huge flame lighting up the sky and water all around.
Despite the industrial facilities nearby, interesting marine life is still found on Pulau Semakau and its surrounding submerged reefs as well as Pulau Hantu.

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