Jun 18, 2007

Acropora Overdose

It was another early start this morning, under threatening skies as we zoomed past the Southern Islands. This is Pulau Jong, distinctively shaped like a 'pau'.
Shortly, we arrived at the southernmost point of Singapore, with Pulau Biola in the foreground and the city centre visible in the horizon.
Singapore indeed has marvellous reefs!

Where are we? Wildfilms were kindly included in a brief survey of Raffles Lighthouse!

This tiny island has among the most pristine of our reefs. Being off limits and distant, and thus well protected from collection and not as exposed to other impacts. Here is Alvin filming the very rich lagoon right at the lighthouse jetty.

The lighthouse is rich in all the different kinds of hard corals that we see elsewhere on our reefs. What is really special at this location are the amazing variety of large and healthy Acropora corals.
They come in a wide variety of shapes and colours.

The polyps that make up these corals are quite distinctive.
These corals are sometimes also called Tabletop corals as the overall structure looks like a platform.

These corals are sometimes also called Staghorn corals because their branches resemble the large horns of these terrestrial beasts.
These branching corals are like forests under the sea, providing hiding places for all kinds of animals.
Such as this tiny hairy crab. Other animals that can be found in Acropora corals include little clams and small fishes.

Another rarely seen coral that grows in profusion at the lighthouse is Hydnophora sp.
And other rarely seen corals as well (except for the green Galaxea coral, I'm not really sure exactly what the others are).
We also came across several different kinds of feather stars! These relatives of sea stars and sea cucumbers have lots of feathery arms and can be quite active.
Today was my first encounter with the Adhesive sea anemone (Cryptodendrum sp.) which I think really looks like a pizza!
The one that was still submerged (big picture) was a little hard to spot. Another one that was out of water was a little more obvious. These large flat sea anemones with really short tentacles hide under coral slabs.

Of course LOTS of other marine life were encountered: anemonefishes, stingrays, other little fishes; giant clams. And there may also have been a first encounter with a kind of sponge today!

Raffles Lighthouse shows the kind of reefs Singapore can have if impact is controlled: coastal developments (e.g., dredging, wake from sea traffic), collection (e.g., drift nets, uncontrolled harvest of marine life and corals), marine litter and other stresses that the other more accessible shores have to bear.


JC said...

Oh man. Nvr expect to see so much SPS on intertidal area.

ria said...

The shores were indeed stunning!

The variety, size and health of the corals are mind-boggling.

Diving there is also amazing; see also Jani's flickr photos

It shows what our reefs can be like if we treat them with love and respect :-)

glassbox said...
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glassbox said...

great shots, love to see acroporids in the wild.