|The reward for sleep deprivation is a gorgeous sunrise.|
Mass coral bleaching in Singapore is not unexpected. From the NOAA's coral reef watch satellite monitoring, Singapore is in the yellow Watch zone. Where we should be prepared for mass coral bleaching.
What is coral bleaching?
Coral are colonies of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp lives inside a little hard skeleton. The huge colony is made up of the skeletons of countless polyps. The polyps of all reef-building hard corals harbour microscopic, single-celled algae (called zooxanthellae). The polyp provides the zooxanthellae with shelter and minerals. The zooxanthellae carry out photosynthesis inside the polyp and share the food produced with the polyp. Corals generally have white colour skeletons, which is believed to assist in photosynthesis by reflecting light onto the zooxanthellae.
|This healthy Pore coral is brown and still has its zooxanthallae.|
|Transparent polyps of a bleaching Pore coral,|
with a coral barnacle that lives in the coral colony.
|All the hard corals I saw today were Boulder pore corals.|
Haddon's carpet anemone. Chek Jawa still has lots of them and most of those I saw were alright. Only one (near the boardwalk) was bleaching and a few had yellowish portions. I also saw some Posy anemones and a few Swimming anemones, they were not bleaching.
sponges here and there. Much more than what I saw last month. So nice to see! Hope this means that the sponges are (finally) coming back after they were wiped out in 2007 during the mass death at Chek Jawa.
Sponge synaptid sea cucumbers.
Cheesecake nudibranch. The rest of the team saw lots more.
Blue-spotted flatworms on Pink ascidians which were really abundant today. And these funny Marbled flatworms which I often see on Beige sheet ascidians.
Wandering cowries among the ascidians (I suspect they eat them). I saw two Onyx cowries and one Miliaris cowrie.
Asparagus sea fan, which I don't see often outside of Beting Bronok.
Crown sea stars on the jetty legs, a few Biscuit sea stars (one with a chunk missing), several Painted sand stars. The rest of the team saw special sea stars too. There were many Garlic bread sea cucumbers, Ball sea cucumbers, Smooth sea cucumbers. More Pink warty sea cucumbers than Thorny sea cucumbers, some Orange sea cucumbers and one Beige sea cucumber. I saw two White sea urchins.
Needle seagrass (with broad and narrow leaf blades), Spoon seagrass (with big leaf blades) some Fern seagrass and I saw a small clump of Tape seagrass near the beacon. I only saw a few furrows that look like dugong feeding trails.
Delek Air is blooming on Chek Jawa's coastal forest. This plant, and many others at Chek Jawa, are listed as Critically Endangered because this kind of coastal habitat is no longer common in Singapore.
Copperband butterflyfish. There were also many small fishes like rabbitfishes, gobies and cardinalfishes.
While we can't do anything for our corals when they start mass bleaching, we can do our part to help them stay healthy and strong by minimising stresses on them. I hope Chek Jawa will stay safe until our next survey.
This survey was done with permission from NParks. Thanks to Chay Hoon for organising all the transport.
Posts by others on this trip