21 May 2022

Beting Bemban Besar still alright

On a scorching hot morning, we made a quick survey of one of Singapore's largest submerged reefs.
Living shores of Beting Bemban Besar, May 2022
I didn't see any mass coral bleaching and the seagrasses seem to be stable. The rest of the team saw Knobbly sea stars, Giant clam, seahorse, sharks and other amazing marine life.

Our last survey here in Jun 2021 was just after bleaching was reported in our waters. We didn't see much bleaching last year, and today, I didn't see any. There are  not a lot of corals on this shore. Some of the large colonies were a little pale at the edges, but I didn't see any outright bleaching.
Living shores of Beting Bemban Besar, May 2022
As usual, there were some medium-sized colonies of Leathery soft coral. I was a little worried to see many small colonies clustered together - usually a sign that a larger colony had subdivided itself, possibly due to stress.
I didn't see many animals on the shore. But sighting the oddly-shaped Domed elbow crab made my day. Listed as 'Endangered', it is rarely seen in the South. There are still many Giant carpet anemones (alas, no anemonefishes), Frilly anemones too. The Common sea stars are still there at our landing point. 
The rest of the team saw MORE amazing creatures. Kok Sheng saw a Fluted giant clam, some Knobbly sea stars and other interesting animals.
Che Cheng Neo saw a seahorse!
Russel Low saw hunting sharks!
Similar to our survey on Jun 2021, sprinkles of seagrasses evenly covered most of the centre of the shore that I surveyed. Much of the seagrasses I saw were heavily covered in epiphytes. The most abundant seagrass was Spoon seagrass with tiny and with large leaves. I many clumps of Tape seagrass, many with longish leaves, longer than 30cm, and those that were cropped were not that short. I also saw many patches of Sickle seagrass but I didn't see any Noodle seagrass.

The Singapore Blue Plan 2018

Pulau Semakau and nearby islands and submerged reefs have been recommended by the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 for Immediate Conservation Priority.

The Blue Plan recommends the intertidal and subtidal marine areas of Pulau Semakau and adjacent Pulau Hantu, and Pulau Jong to be designated Marine Reserve.

The Blue Plan highlights that Pulau Semakau and its associated patch reefs comprise many ecosystems: coral reefs, mangrove areas, intertidal sandflats, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. The subtidal area of Pulau Jong is larger than the terrestrial area. Pulau Hantu is a popular dive site has seen increasing interest in the past decade due to biodiversity awareness. If protection is accorded to these three islands, zonation plans for use can be implemented to manage tourism and human impacts.

DOWNLOAD the Plan, SUPPORT the Plan! More on the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 site.

Photos by others on this trip

Chay Hoon

Loh Kok Sheng

Jianlin Liu

Che Cheng Neo

James Koh

Russel Low

Benny Cheong

Others on this trip: Kelvin Yong, Juria Toramae.


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