It's been more than a year since we properly surveyed this shore in May 2011, although I made a brief trip here in Apr 2012 for giant clams. Beting Bemban Besar is an enormous submerged reef off Pulau Semakau. We can hardly cover a quarter of it during a low tide, so this time, we are heading out to a different part of the reef that we have yet to explore properly.The water was still high when we arrived, and it was dark. Plus wind ripples on the water surface, it was rather difficult to shoot from above water. So little Sneaky Swimming Camera takes the plunge and gets a glimpse of a flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis) and a False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in a Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea). !
Yellow banded damselfish (Dischistodus fasciatus). I also saw several Blue-spotted fantail rays (Taeniura lymma), while the rest of the team saw Black-tipped reef sharks.
I was delighted to meet with a Yellow-lipped sea snake (Laticauda colubrina)! I usually miss the sightings made by the rest of the team recently, so it was nice to have this snake all to myself. It was a medium sized one and was patiently checking out every nook and cranny in the reef. At one point even coming to check me out!octopuses seemingly entangled in one another. One had his tentacle stuck up another one which was smaller and had turned white, but with a wide black stripe along its head facing the bigger octopus!
Gymnodoris rubropapulosa nudibranch seemed particularly common today as several of us saw them. This nudibranch eats other slugs!
Very hairy hermit crab (Dardanus lagopodes)! Those of these that I see are often very large. I have no idea why.
May 2010 I spotted clusters of large Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus). They were still there! But unlike at Cyrene Reef, we didn't spot any small Knobbly sea stars here.
Cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae) in the same area! They are often mistaken for rubble, especially when they are out of water, then looking squished and deflated. When we gently put them into a pool of water, their beautiful colours and patterns can be seen. Rene finally got to see one of these fascinating animals today.
With daylight, it was time to do the intertidal survey. Here's a slide show of the transects today. Along the way, I also checked the hard and soft corals for signs of coral bleaching. I did the reefy part of the shore, but at the mid-water mark. Kok Sheng went 'swimming' in the deeper end and saw far more spectacular stuff.
It's always nice to come across a cluster of Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae). These look nice and big. But the hard coral in the top left corner of the photo is very pale.Mole mushroom corals (Polyphyllia talpina) which seemed alright. And two small colonies of Bracket mushroom coral (Podobacia sp.) which seem a little pale.
Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.) and several Crinkled sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.). All those I saw seemed healthy. These two species suffered very badly during the coral bleaching event.
Acropora corals (Acropora sp.) and they looked fine. There were also many Branching montipora coral (Montipora sp.) on the higher sandier parts of the shore and they too looked fine.
Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) with their large long polyps as well as Small goniopora coral (Goniopora sp.). I also saw several different kinds of Disk corals (Turbinaria sp.).
Brain coral (Family Mussidae), Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) and even two small colonies of Horn coral (Hydnophora exesa). There were also many colonies of Blue corals (Heliopora coerulea).
Pore corals (Porites sp.) and Favid corals (Family Faviidae). I didn't come across any that were bleaching. Although one or two had oddly coloured bands or spots.
Leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) of all kinds on the shore, none of those I saw were bleaching. I didn't see many Asparagus soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) but those I saw seemed healthy.
a week ago.
Family Malleidae. Some of them could instead be from the Family Isognomonidae, these have a series of several 'teeth' on the hinge of the clam which those from Family Malleida lack. But this is hard to check as the hinge is usually tucked deep in a crevice.
Kok Sheng found a Four-spot cowrie (Cypraea quadrimaculata) which is not often seen.
Sadly, all too soon, the tide turned and we had to hurry off the reef, spotting Black-tipped reef sharks in the incoming water. We probably won't be back here for many more months. I hope it will stay well until then.
Tomorrow another predawn trip, but much later at a more decent hour of 6am. Hurray, I can sleep in.
Posts by others on this trip