Mass coral bleaching is happening at Terumbu Raya.
This submerged reef lies opposite Pulau Hantu and the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom, and is next to Pulau Semakau.
NOAA's coral reef watch satellite monitoring, Singapore is in the blue Watch zone. But our corals are still 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.
Mar 2016, when some signs of bleaching were seen, but not mass coral bleaching. Today, I did see some corals that were not bleaching. But I get the sense that there were fewer living hard corals compared to our survey in Jun 2015.
Acropora corals, most not bleaching, although some had patches that recently died.
Cauliflower corals that were bleaching with patches that recently died. I saw one small colony of Crinkled sandpaper coral that was a healthy brown without any dead patches. Most of the Disk corals I saw were also alright.
Galaxy corals and most were alright except for one large colony.
Anemone corals were bleaching.
Carnation corals and most of them were bleaching. I saw one large Lettuce coral and while half of it was dead, the remaining that was alive was not bleaching.
Brain corals were still bleaching, with only one colony that looks somewhat normal.
Anchor corals I saw were mostly bleaching, with portions that were recently dead.
Merulinid corals were still bleaching, some with patches of recently dead tissue that generally make up 10-15% of the colony.
Sea mat zoanthids that were bleaching and small patches of bleaching Button zoanthids. I saw a few small colonies of leathery soft corals and none of them were bleaching. The most abundant cnidarian on the shore were Fine feathery soft corals and none of them were bleaching.
Bubble tip sea anemones. They all had Tomato anemonefishes in them. I also saw several Frilly sea anemones and only a few were bleaching. I saw one Haddon's carpet anemone, and a few Giant carpet anemones all of them not bleaching. I didn't see the Fluted giant clams that we saw on our trip in Jun 2015. But I did get a glimpse of a sea turtle when it popped up for a breath, then disappeared underwater again. So no photo...
Spoon seagrass (small leaf blades), Tape seagrass (with cropped leaf blades) and what looks like Sickle seagrass and possibly Serrated ribbon seagrass.
High res photos of mass coral bleaching in Singapore for free download on wildsingapore flickr
Others on this trip: Nicholas Yap.