08 May 2016

Kusu coral bleaching check with net

Kusu Island may be reclaimed but it still has among the best reefs of our accessible islands.
This morning, we checked for coral bleaching and saw some signs although most of the corals seemed alright. Sadly, we found another net, which we removed after releasing all the living animals.

A night survey means we get to see more reef fishes as they are more active in the dark.
Are those leaves?
Only one of them. The other is a baby Batfish!
Corals are important habitats for many animals. Like this Acropora coral full of animals living among its branches. These included several Machine gun shrimps and many tiny coral scallops.
Super well camouflaged Reef octopus!
How nice to come across the Egg-white moon snail which we rarely encounter.
We are on alert for coral bleaching on our reefs. Dr Karenne Tun just revealed on facebook 7 May that "We just entered Bleaching Alert Level 2. The rise from Bleaching Warning to Bleaching Alert 1 and 2 were rapid. 2010 paled in comparison." Alert Level 2 is the highest level of alert.
She also shared these data charts.
This is the latest on the NOAA Coral Reef Watch site.
Today, I checked the reefs near the southern lagoon. There are some corals outside the seawall, but much patchier than in the northern side of Kusu Island.
There were some plate corals too. 
Most of the Merulinid (previously Favid) corals were alright. Although a few were pale.
Inside the southern lagoon, there are some patches of Branching montipora that look nice and brown.
Some special corals I saw were Trumpet coral, Stumpy acropora coral and a large Mole mushroom coral.
While some of the Boulder pore corals were brown, others were really pale.
Some of them were pink and a few were very white.
Oh dear, these large colonies of Lettuce coral look really stressed with white tips.
A closer look at the coral.
There was also this bleachy coral. I'm not really sure what kind it is.
Most of the Flowery disk corals I saw were pale, and some of the other Disk corals were oddly coloured.
A few of the Cauliflower corals I saw were bleaching. I only saw  a few small Sandpaper corals and they were pale but not bleaching.
The leathery soft corals I saw were mostly alright. I only saw two Asparagus flowery soft corals and they were alright.
I came across one patch of Sea mat zoanthids that was bleaching.
In the northern lagoon, there is a patch of Spoon seagrass with small leaf blades. It is studded with many Haddon's carpet anemones. About one third of them were bleaching or showing signs of bleaching.
The highlight of a predawn survey is the sunrise!
Sadly, we also came across a net laid across the mouth of the northern lagoon. More about the net on the Project Driftnet blog. There is a rich reef at the mouth of this lagoon which I surveyed in Jun 2015. Kok Sheng's photos suggest they are still rich and doing well. We also could not find the Fluted giant clam that we saw in the past. Have people been harvesting on Kusu Island?
Our corals and the animals that depend on them are currently under stress from high temperatures. We should give them a break, especially during this period, by not doing harmful things like laying nets.

Posts by others on this trip

Others on this trip: Chay Hoon, Lisa Lim.

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