14 August 2011

Southern Semakau specials

Another glorious sunrise as a small team heads to clear abandoned driftnets at Pulau Semakau.
We arrive much earlier so we could also do a quick check of the shores.

Today we headed for the southern tip of Semakau which has lots of seagrasses in front a mangroves with a small stretch of sandy shores. This area reminds me of Cyrene Reef.
Along the way, I had a quick look to see how the reefs were doing. It was good to see that healthy specimens of these two species of hard corals that were badly affected by the coral bleaching last year: Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.) and Sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.).
I also saw other healthy specimens of Sunflower mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis), a circular mushroom coral, some Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.), a Ridged plate corals (Merulina sp.) and many Favid corals (Family Faviidae) and Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.).
I am also trying to document common animals that I have yet to add to my list of sightings at Semakau. Such as the Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus), which is commonly seen on many of our shores.
How nice to come across a juvenile Batfish (Platax sp.). Other fishes that were common included the Common mojarra (Gerres oyena) and lots of little gobies (Family Gobiidae).
I came across a patch of many adult Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus)! As I reached the southern tip, I saw more juvenile Knobblies. Including this one which has lost one arm and part of another arm. Oh dear.
As usual, I only see the common large nudibranchs. I saw lots of fat Jorunna funebris and one Discodoris boholiensis. The rest of the team saw many more nudis!

I saw one squid (Family Loliginidae) and many octopuses!
The big Find of the Day was the Galloping sea star (Stellaster equistris) which Kok Sheng so dearly wanted to find for a very long time. I'm quite intrigued by its underside. It has fat orange tube feet. James also saw an Eight-armed sea star (Luidia maculata).
The sandy shore was also full of Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).
Another first for me on Semakau is the Remarkable sea cucumber (Holothuria notabilis), which is also seen on many of our other shores in the North and South.
The sandy shore here has animals we often find on similar shores. Like this Olive snail (Family Olividae)! Nicole found the Margined conch (Strombus marginatus).
There were many Giant anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) here. One had a pair of anemone shrimps. But I couldn't find any with an anemonefish. Nicole took a nice video clip of the anemone shrimps 'dancing' together.
Among the seagrasses, there were also some Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni).
Soon it was time to head for the mangroves to clear out the nets there.
I've always been intrigued by the white patch in the middle of the mangroves that can be seen on google earth. Why is the patch white and bare of trees? What is going on there?

A few of us try to find our way through the thick mangroves to this area.
Finally we reach the 'white' area and it seems to me that it lacks trees because the area is a raised mound. A strange thing to happen in the middle of the mangroves. I have no idea what is going on.
The tide gets quite high here! See the mid water mark on the tree roots! We make sure we leave the mangroves before the tide turns. Sadly, we saw some driftnets here, deep among the mangroves. Including a fish trap with two large crabs in it. This is particularly troubling as Marcus also noted otter tracks in the same area, which is also near where Subaraj saw the otter a few days ago.
It was well before sunrise when we started walking to the shore. In the light of flaring at the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom we saw a small boat at Terumbu Semakau. Laying driftnets? Sigh.
Throughout the trip, the flaring at Pulau Bukom continued. We could hear the jet-engine sound of the flaring even from Semakau!
But we also enjoyed a full moon in clear skies. Here's the moon setting over the Life Firing islands off Pulau Semakau.
Alas, the large contraption made up of large drums is still on this special part of Semakau. We had a look at this in May 2011 when we also came to remove driftnets.
The team did some hard work removing driftnets wound around mangrove trees and abandoned for quite some time. More about this on the Project Driftnet blog.

It was good to have a chance to survey the southern end of Semakau. My last survey was in April 2011 when we checked the western edge before clearing driftnets.

Posts by others on this trip
  • James with lots of land critters, the Eight-armed sea star, file snake and lots of other marine marvels.
  • Nicole with huge side gill and other slug, lots of Knobblies and more!
  • Russel with pretty shrimp goby, slugs, corals, sea stars and more!
  • Rene with snake, fishies and more!
  • Jerome with frog and fish, cricket and coral, amazing sunrise and more!
  • Kok Sheng with lots of special anemones, slugs, snake and of course sea stars as he spent the most time on this part of the shore.


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