21 June 2015

Checking up on Terumbu Semakau

Next to Singapore's only Landfill is a submerged reef called Terumbu Semakau. It has living reefs with fascinating marine life. Like this cluster of healthy Acropora corals.
We saw giant clams, seahorse, rare snails and an explosion of Magnificent anemones. But we couldn't find many anemonefish and there were still large fish traps on the shore.

Terumbu Semakau is a submerged reef that lies just opposite the Semakau Landfill and next to Pulau Semakau.
Branching corals like Acropora corals provide shelter for lots of small animals. Like this blue-eyed Coral crab.
Most of the corals I saw were not bleaching. There were the usual variety of corals, but I didn't get to do much of the edge since the tide wasn't that low.
But many of the Flowery disk corals I saw were pale yellow, and some of the Brain corals were rather yellow too. Most of the Torch anchor corals I saw were yellowish and one was turning bright green. But we didn't see any corals that were completely bleaching.
Most of the Asparagus flowery soft corals were pale yellowish. Here's one with only the left branches turning yellow while the right branches are the usual pink-purple. Most of the leathery soft corals I saw were alright.
The large patch of Montipora corals in the middle of the reef, however, is mostly dead. Only those on the edges in the water at low tide are still alive. They were alright when I saw them on my last trip here in Jul 2014.
Russel found a Fluted giant clam for Mei Lin. And Marcus found a Burrowing giant clam. Chay Hoon also found a Tiger cowrie and a seahorse. Special nudibranchs were also spotted.
This is the prettiest Cushion star I've seen. It looks perfect on a sofa!
 Mei Lin spotted this Durian sea cucumber curled up under a large rock.
 Jonathan found this baby Diadema sea urchin.
There were many clusters of Magnificent anemones near the reef edge. These anemones can multiply by dividing, so those seen close to one another are probably clones and look similar. Some  have bright pink body columns, others pale or brown or yellowish.
Although I found one anemone shrimp, I couldn't find a single anemonefish in any of the large sea anemones (including the Giant carpet anemones which are common here). The team did see one or two small ones. This is odd since we saw lots of them on our last trip here in Jul 2014. What happened to the fishes?
Here's a video clip of Terumbu Semakau.
Sadly, the lush seagrasses that we saw many years ago have yet to return. Where they used to be, there were signs of cropped Tape seagrasses.
Here's what the seagrass meadows looked like when we visited in June 2010. It breaks my heart to think the seagrasses will never recover.
But here and there, were rather long Tape seagrass, patches of Spoon seagrass and some Serrated ribbon seagrass. Much of those seen were heavily covered in epiphytes.
We saw 6 large fish traps at Terumbu Semakau, where they are exposed at low tide. They were not 'in operation'. We're not sure what is going on here.
There was a coil of chicken wire next to this trap. Are they being made or stored or mended on this Terumbu?
On the way home, the first team to take the dinghy spotted and removed a large tarp that had drifted onto the shore.
Herons were hunting at the reef edge.
Terumbu Semakau is rich but fragile. I hope it stays safe until we can visit again next year. There are to few low tides and too many shores to check.

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