26 June 2020

Terumbu Pempang Tengah with some bleaching

Dr Jani Tanzil alerted us that mass coral bleaching may have started on our shores since the second week of June. So we are on the look out for this at Terumbu Pempang Tengah.
Living reefs of Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Jun 2020
Today, I estimate very few of the hard corals that I saw are outright bleaching, probably less than 1%. But about 10% were showing stress (paler than usual or with bleaching portions) or with recently dead patches. Most of the hard corals were doing alright with no pale or bleaching portions. Some parts of this shore has large patches of leathery soft corals, almost all of those I saw were alright. The situation wasn't as bad as what I saw during mass coral bleaching in 2016.

Among the large colonies of corals, only the Honey-combed hexa corals were bleaching or bright pink.
Living reefs of Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Jun 2020
Most of the other large coral colonies were mostly brown, some with edges that were pale or bleaching.
Living reefs of Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Jun 2020
The large field of Branching montipora near the landing point is still there and is alright. I only saw a handful of fragments that were bleaching.
Field of Branching montipora coral (Montipora sp.)
There are a LOT of leathery soft corals on some parts of this reef! Here's a video clip of one particularly large dense patch.
Various Leathery soft corals
I saw only a few leathery soft corals that were bleaching or had patches of dying tissue or appear to be fragmenting.
As a comparison, here's an image of the leathery soft corals during mass coral bleaching here in 2016.
I saw a few Mushroom corals of various kinds and they were alright.
I saw a few bleaching Sea mat zoanthids, but all the other kinds of zoanthids I saw were alright. I saw two bleaching Smooth frilly anemones, and one bleaching Frilly anemone, but also saw many that were alright. I saw a few Asparagus soft flowery soft corals and they were alright. There were many small clumps of Broad feathery soft corals, all nice and blue and alright.
I also saw several Giant carpet anemones. None of them were bleaching and some of them had tiny anemonefishes.
False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) in Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
I came across a variety of corallimorphs. Most were alright, although a few had some polyps that were bleaching.
Here's a compilation of some of the hard corals I saw, with a ruler for further study by others.
It was disconcerting to come across some sponges with dead or dying portions. But most of the sponges I saw were alright.
There were sprinkles of seagrasses of various kinds all over the shore. These were some longish Tape seagrasses, but most were cropped short. The situation looks similar to our last survey in Jul 2019.
We arrived while the tide was a little high. And a line of herons were waiting for the tide to fall as well.
Herons waiting for the tide to fall
Unfortunately, Vincent came across two large 'bubu' fish traps. They were empty and had sections cut out of the trap. Vincent also saw piles of metal rods that appear to be from old broken fish traps. Jonathan came across a large fish trap which had trapped a large pufferfish which he released.
Terumbu Pempang Tengah is close to an area designated for parking of large unused construction sea vessels such as cranes, barges and huge work boats. It lies near Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.
The 2030 Landuse Plan by the Ministry of National Development released in Jan 2013 shows plans for 'possible future reclamation' (in light blue surrounded by dotted lines) that may impact Terumbu Pempang Darat and Terumbu Pempang Tengah. More about the possible impact of the 2030 Landuse Plan on our shores.
Let's hope these beautiful reefs will be spared this fate.

Posts by others on this survey

Kelvin Yong

Jonathan Tan

Vincent Choo

Dayna Cheah

Other shores surveyed by others during this low tide

Tanah Merah/East Coast Park by Loh Kok Sheng

Changi Point and Pulau Ubin by Victor Toh

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