06 August 2023

Terumbu Bemban hanging on

This submerged reef flat is the closest to the Live Firing Area, and one of our favourite sites.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Aug 2023
There doesn't seem to be a recovery from the decline we noticed in the reefiest part on our last survey in Apr 2022. But there remains many corals here. The rest of the team spotted a Giant clam and other interesting marine life. While Kelvin flew the drone and got footage of a shark hunting in the shallows. 

Thanks to Kelvin's drone view, I realise the Terumbu is heart-shaped! The rest of the team saw cool and interesting animals. From a Giant clam to fishes and nudibranchs.
Collage from photos by the team.
Links to their albums below.

Kelvin also tracked a shark swimming along the reef edge and making a turn into the shallower water. A reminder to us not to step on the sharks when surveying the reef edge!

There is a small area here that was densely covered with hard corals. As on our last survey in Apr 2022, Today, I didn't see as many live corals as in May 2021. I sense many of the large corals at the reef edge were dead and covered with algae. I'm still not really sure what happened. Aside from one large coral at the reef edge that was bleaching, the rest of the corals seemed alright. 
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Aug 2023
There were still some healthy large corals on the edge, and I saw a variety of corals here, including many mushroom corals.
Elsewhere, the reef is dotted with medium to large boulder shaped corals. I didn't see any that were bleaching.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Aug 2023
Scattered elsewhere on the reef flat, I also came across small colonies of interesting corals such as Brain anchor coral, and Acropora corals. There were also many common corals like Anemone coral and Cauliflower corals. I didn't see any that were bleaching.
I saw a few small clusters of Branching montipora corals. These corals sometimes form large 'fields' on other submerged reefs. Hopefully, the same will happen here.
I also saw many small to medium sized colonies of leathery soft corals of various kinds. And some Asparagus flowery soft coral and Leathery sea fans. Those I saw seemed alright.
Today, the seagrass situation seems more similar to our survey in May 2021. Back sliding from the slight improvement we saw on our last survey in Apr 2022. I saw several clumps of Tape seagrass with longish leaves (about 20-30cm). I saw many that were cropped short. There were also sprinkles Spoon seagrasses. I didn't see any Sickle seagrasses.
Terumbu Bemban is the western most submerged reef just before the Life Firing Islands. From here, we can see Pulau Bukom. The area nearby is now also used for a lot of ship anchoring.
Singapore's submerged reefs are often out of sight under the high tide and thus forgotten. Let's hope Terumbu Bemban stays safe until we can visit again.

Future of Terumbu Bemban

Large areas nearby are slated for massive reclamation outlined recently in the Long-Term Plan Review

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.
Living reefs of Terumbu Bemban, Aug 2023
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.

Posts by others on this survey

Kelvin Yong drone footage

Kelvin Yong photos

Tammy Lim

Richard Kuah

Tommy Arden

Che Cheng Neo


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