16 July 2018

Terumbu Bemban still alive!

In a small corner of Terumbu Bemban there are some of the best reefs I've seen in Singapore.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Jul 2018
Today, some large colonies seem to have died, but other kinds of corals are doing well. We found two giant clams and saw other interesting marine life. And I narrowly missed stepping on a stonefish!

Here's a glimpse at some of the corals on this shore.
Living reefs of Terumby Bemban, Jul 2018
We surveyed in Apr 2016, before the peak of mass coral bleaching. During our last survey in Jun 2017,  I did not see mass coral bleaching, although I sense about 20% of the hard corals have died and some individual corals are pale or have bleaching patches. Today, while some of the corals (like mushroom corals) seemed to have returned, others were not doing well.

Various corals and marine life at Terumbu Bemban

The patch of Acropora coral was mostly dead, with only a narrow edge of living corallites. It was still alive on our last survey here in Jun 2017.
The large Disk corals on the reef edge had many dead portions. This was not the case on our last survey here in Jun 2017.
Various corals and marine life at Terumbu Bemban
However, there were a lot of very large Tongue mushroom corals and some other kinds of mushroom corals too. They all look healthy.
I also saw nice healthy Sandpaper corals and Cauliflower corals. These are usually the first to succumb during bleaching events.
 There were a variety of other colourful hard corals.
 And many nice plate-forming corals too.
I saw many Leathery soft corals and they all seemed alright.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Jul 2018
I saw a many Asparagus flowery soft corals and they looked alright.
Asparagus flowery soft coral (Nephthea sp.)
I saw a few of the usual nudibranchs that we come across on our reefs.
I saw many large Barrel sponges that were alright, although some had rotting edges at the top. I was relieved to see this since we saw dying Barrel sponges at Sentosa Serapong last month.
There were spinkles of Spoon seagrass, and cropped Tape seagrass. Today I saw sprinkles of Sickle seagrass.
We arrived at first light and caught some of the night shift as they were winding down. Such as this lively Reef octopus
Reef octopus
We saw two Cushion stars, which I usually only encounter in our better reefs.
Cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae)
There was also a Merten's carpet anemone, which is not very commonly seen.
Merten's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii)
The most alarming find was a Hollow-cheek stonefish, right next to where I had decided to step! I only noticed it after I had been standing there for some time. It had lots of spines upright, ready for me in case I decided to step on it. Wow, count myself lucky today!
Hollow-cheek stonefish (Synanceia horrida)
We didn't come across any nets or traps. The old trap has been there for a long time and is no longer functioning.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Jul 2018
Let's hope this beautiful little reef stays safe until we get to survey again.

More finds and photos by the rest of the team who went for the trip.

By Able Yeo

By Nathaniel Soon

By Liz Lim

By Lisa Lim

By Teo Say Chong

Mei Lin on her blog.

Others on this trip: Jia Min, Giorgio

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