Aug 3, 2008

Amazing corals of Pulau Semakau

Today, we saw some rare and special corals during the super low tide at Pulau Semakau.There were some Acropora coral (Acropora sp.). This beautiful branching coral is not often encountered.This pretty Pebble coral (Astreopora sp.) is sometimes seen on some of our reefs. It is in the same family as Acropora corals.
Carnation corals (Pectinia sp.) have lovely fluted patterns and come in lovely pastel shades. It is not often seen, especially large colonies.Merulina sp. forms pretty plate-shaped colonies with ridges. They can come in a variety of colours. It is only sometimes seen on our reefs.
This beautiful powder blue plate coral with little bumps is probably Echinopora sp. I have only seen this in large numbers on Raffles Lighthouse.A truly delightful encounter was this colony of Moon coral (Diploastrea heliopora). I've only seen this coral twice before, on Sisters Island and on Pulau Jong.

Although the mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis is quite commonly seen on Pulau Semakau, I would say they are rather rare on our shores. The only other place they are commonly encountered is Pulau Hantu. They used to be seen in numbers on Beting Bronok as well, but are now no longer seen there.This mushroom coral is a single large polyp. It has very long tentacles with white tips and is sometimes mistaken for a sea anemone.When the tentacles are retracted, however, the hard skeleton is more obvious. The slit-like mouth lies in the centre of the disk-shaped skeleton.The skeleton made up of radiating walls with rounded 'teeth'.While the adults are free living and lie unattached to a hard surface, the young mushroom corals start life stuck onto a hard surface. Here's three tiny baby mushroom corals that were seen today.

Although Pulau Semakau lies right next to our only landfill, it is rich in corals and marine life. It is up to us to ensure it remains this way. By reducing our waste, the landfill will last longer and there will be no need to expand it to affect this wonderful shore.

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