23 August 2017

Terumbu Semakau with large fish traps

We survey Terumbu Semakau at dawn and sadly find several large fish traps on the living reef edge.
Large fish trap at Terumbu Semakau, Aug 2017
But it was good to see healthy corals and marine life. Jonathan spotted a sea turtle, and we all saw dolphins on the way home!

There were masses of Magnificent sea anemones near the reefy edge of this submerged reef right next to our landfill.
Terumbu Semakau reef with masses of Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
Many of the Giant anemone and some of the Magnificent anemones had clown anemonefishes, although they were very shy with their home anemones out of water. I also saw other fishes like this Kite butterflyfish.
Among the abundant echinoderms here were Diadema sea urchins and White rumped sea cucumbers.
Jonathan found a Leathery sea anemone. At first glance I thought it was a Snaky anemone but Nicholas pointed out the bumps on the body column and the purple tipped tentacles. The Snaky sea anemone doesn't have the bumps or purple tipped tentacles, and has fine white lines radiating out from the mouth on the oral disk.
There was also a Mertens' carpet anemone. It looks like a Giant carpet anemone, but has much shorter tentacles. It usually has bright red dots on the body, but this one didn't have them. We saw some Frilly anemones but no Bubble tip anemones. In the seagrassy area, I saw one Fire anemone but no Haddon's carpet anemone.
Mei Lin showed me the Burrowing giant clam found on this shore. She says it has grown a lot bigger since she last saw it. Yay!
Burrowing giant clam (Tridacna crocea)
I saw several Spangled flatworms and one Bayer's flatworm.
I saw many large Leathery soft corals and they all were alright.
There were many large Asparagus flowery soft corals and some Spiky flower soft corals too. They were alright.
Many of the corals were boulder-shaped. Mostly Pore corals but also Merulinid corals and Brain corals. Most seemed alright although some had large dead portions.
There were some Flowery disk corals that were rather pale but other Disk corals seemed alright. I also some Plate montipora corals that were fine.
Among the special corals was a large colony of Galaxy corals near the reef edge. There were also some Crinkled sandpaper coral and many Anemone corals.
Other special corals included Lettuce coral, Ancor coralAcropora coral. I also saw many Cauliflower corals that were alright, some with little Red coral crabs in them.
There were also several large mushroom corals that were alright.
Jonathan patiently waited and watched and got a great shot of the sea turtle that was swimming around near the reef edge!

Sadly, the seagrasses have not returned to the shallow pools in the middle of the reef flat.
Still no seagrasses at Terumbu Semakau
There are some patches of a variety of seagrasses. But they are all heavily covered in epiphytes. It doesn't seem very different from what we saw in May 2017 and July 2016.
Seagrasses heavily covered in epiphytes
There used to be lush seagrass meadows on Terumbu Semakau. Here's what the seagrass meadows looked like when we visited in June 2010.
It was heartbreaking to see a large fish trap on the reef edge. Wedged in place with living corals. Similar to what we saw at Kusu Island a few days ago.
Large fish trap at Terumbu Semakau, Aug 2017
The rest of the team saw three other traps. One of the traps had a very large grouper in it. We released all the fishes and destroyed all the traps.

One the way home, we saw dolphins! Thanks to Alex for patiently showing us the wild dolphins.
Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (Sousa chinensis)
It seems there were a pair of adult dolphins and a baby!

Thank you to Nicholas Yap for having us along for the trip. And to Mei Lin for bringing us to St John's and so sorry that she missed the dolphin sighting.

Mr Kuet did an awesome video clip of our trip.

Photos by others on this trip

Others on this trip: Lena Chow, Lisa Lim, Neo Mei Lin, Nicholas Yap, Mr Kuet


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