21 May 2019

Three-clam day at Terumbu Pempang Laut

We found three Giant clams today at Terumbu Pemang Laut!
Living shores of Terumbu Pempang Laut, May 2019
The seagrass situation on this large reef flat seems to have improved since our last survey in Dec 2018! But I saw more signs of bleaching hard corals.

Terumbu Pempang Laut is one of our largest submerged reefs and located near industrial islands such as Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.
The larger Fluted giant clam that we have seen on our past surveys seems alright! We saw it first in Jun 2014.
Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)
I accidentally noticed this well camouflaged Burrowing giant clam!
Burrowing giant clam (Tridacna crocea)
And Jianlin found another Fluted giant clam!

Today, I didn't see any dugong feeding trails. We saw many trails on the thin meadows of Spoon seagrass on our last survey here in Dec 2018. Also in Aug 2016. The first time we noted them was in May 2012.
NO Dugong feeding trail in Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), Terumbu Pempang Laut, May 2019
The seagrass situation seems much improved! In Dec 2018 what we saw seemed worse than on the last survey in May 2017. There was much denser growths of fresh green seagrasses especially near the reef edge.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) with big leaf blades
There were many patches of Spoon seagrass with large leaves!
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) with big leaf blades
Interspersed with Sickle seagrass. There were also many clumps of Tape seagrass that were cropped but not very short. Some were rather long (about 50cm) and curly. The seagrasses in the middle of the reef flat, however, were heavily covered in epiphytes.
This shore doesn't really have many corals, although there are some large boulder shaped corals.
Living shores of Terumbu Pempang Laut, May 2019
Most of the corals I saw were Merulinid corals. During our last survey in Dec 2018, I saw many colonies with pale edges or patches. Today, I saw small colonies that were bleaching with dead or dying portions, especially those in the middle of the reef flat. But most of the large Merulinid corals were not bleaching.
The tiny Pore corals in the middle of the reef flat were all bleaching. Some larger ones were showing signs of stress, were bleaching and had dead or dying patches. During our last survey in Dec 2018, I saw many Pore corals that were pale.
This large coral colony seems to have succumbed recently with large dead portions.
Dying and bleaching Branching pore coral (Porites sp.)
It was disturbing to see some clusters of Blue coral with dead portions. Blue corals in the past seemed indestructible to me.
Blue coral (Heliopora coerulea)
But the other kinds of corals I saw seemed alright, although I didn't see many colonies of each kind - one Cauliflower coral, one Anemone coral, one Flowery disk coral and many Branching montipora corals.
I saw some pale Asparagus flowery soft corals, a few patches of bleaching zoanthids and some Frilly sea anemones that looked pale. But the Giant carpet anemones I saw were alright.
I didn't see any Common sea stars, we saw some in our Dec 2018 survey. But the sandy area still had some Oval moon snails, and other interesting bivalves. I also observed this Spooner crab eating.
Smooth spooner crab (Etisus laevimanus)
There was one large fish trap (bubu) anchored with a line, on the reef edge. There was also a frame of a fish trap in the middle of the reef flat.
Fish trap at Terumbu Pempang Laut
This hole may have been the result of a boat operating over the reef at low tide.
Boat strike? at Terumbu Pempang Laut, May 2019

Terumbu Pempang Laut is one of the existing natural shores that may be impacted by the landuse plan by the Ministry of National Development released in Jan 2013 in response to the Populations White Paper with a 6.9 million population target. The dotted margined blue areas are "Possible Future Reclamation".
The other shores impacted by this plan include Pulau Hantu, Terumbu Pempang Darat, Terumbu Pempang Tengah and Pulau Jong and Terumbu Semakau.
Let's hope Terumbu Pempang Laut stays safe until we can visit again.

Photos by others on this trip

Jianlin Liu

Shawne Goh

Juria Toramae

Kelvin Yong

Others on this trip: Lisa


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