11 March 2017

Back to Beting Bemban Besar

We return to this part of the submerged reef for the first time in 5 years. It was heartening to see sprinkles of seagrasses here.
Seagrass meadows on Beting Bemban Besar
I saw a variety of corals, most were not bleaching but I did see some that were very pale.

Beting Bemban Besar lies off Pulau Semakau. Our last trip to this part of the reef was in May 2011, just after the mass coral bleaching in 2010.
I saw two Smasher mantis shrimps. But only managed a video clip of glimpses of one.
Smasher mantis shrimp (Gonodactylus chiragra)
Can you spot the pair of Elbow crabs? I think they were about to mate.
Common elbow crab (Rhinolambrus pelagicus)
Among the other interesting animals I saw included several Common sea stars, a nudibranch, an Egg-white moon snail and a Mosaic reef crab.
How are the corals here after the global mass coral bleaching last year? Here's a video clip of the reef and some of the hard and soft corals there.
Living reefs of Beting Bemban Besar
There are few large corals here and there. They were not bleaching but had portions that were dead.
Living shores of Beting Bemban Besars
I saw a variety of corals that had pink portions, probably a sign of stress.
Some corals were still pale and had dead portions. Most of the Small goniopora corals I saw were pale, while all the Anemone corals I saw were not. Some of the Pore boulder corals were pale and some had pale slivers of living coral around a large dead centre. There were some Merulinid corals (previously Family Faviidae), most were alright.
I saw a few Cauliflower corals with most of the colony dead but small living portions not bleaching. Similarly for Crinkled sandpaper corals.
I did see a variety of other corals, but only one or two of each kind: Two Brain corals, a few Disk corals, one Galaxy coral, a few Mole mushroom corals but no other kinds of mushroom corals.
I saw a few Acropora corals and many small clumps of Branching montipora coral.
I saw many leathery soft corals of various kinds. They were not bleaching, but most were small.
I did see a few small leathery soft corals that were slightly luminous on the edges, or a strange colour.
I saw several Flowery soft corals that were not bleaching. But I saw a few Sea mat zoanthids that were rather pale.
I saw several Giant carpet anemones (one with a shy Clown anemonefish), one Haddon's carpet anemone and a few Frilly anemones. Nick found a Haeckel's anemone too! There were many upside down jellyfishes among the seagrass areas.
There are sprinkles of seagrasses all over the reef from where I was. Some patches were more dense. Some seagrasses were heavily covered in epiphytes, others especially nearer the reef edge were fresh and green. I sense it is somewhat similar to what we saw 5 years ago here on May 2011. Here's a video clip of the seagrasses.
Seagrasses at Beting Bemban Besar
Of note, I saw patches of Spoon seagrasses with large leaf blades. While some of the Tape seagrasses were cropped, others were quite long (under 1m). I saw a lot of Serrated ribbon seagrass and some Sickle seagrass too.
I noticed signs of what looks like a small boat strike on the reef edge. As usual, there were small boats with people fishing, and one small boat that looked like it was laying large traps. But we did not come across any fishing nets laid on the reef as we did on our last trip here in May 2011.
Boat strike on Beting Bemban Besar
This is our last evening trip. For the next few months, we look forward to predawn trips as the low spring tides occur in the early morning!

Photos by others on this trip
Others on this trip: Lisa Lim, 

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