Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas with full moon at Terumbu Semakau

Merry Christmas from the reefs of Terumbu Semakau! There are not many good low tides towards the end of the year. It's nice that Christmas coincides with full moon in December, which naturally means low tide to go out and explore on this special day.

It's been a while since I last set foot on Terumbu Semakau, a submerged reef off Semakau landfill.

Ria shared with me her find of this good patch of Acropora corals (Acropora sp.) nearer to the north and it's quite nice to do them brown and healthy at a not-so-low elevation. 

I later found another patch of thinner Acropora corals nearer to the western side that is just right across Pulau Semakau's eastern shore.

Among the corals are commensals such as this commensal crab. They are pretty much well camouflaged among the dark corners of the crevices.

There are some distinctive boulders that faces the Semakau landfill and the corals and critters around are quite nice!

I managed to find this black and white Feather star (Order Comatulida) which was originally clinging onto the underside of one of the big rocks.

As this is the sargassum seaweed season, the reef edge has been thickly covered with seaweed and this made looking at the corals a lot harder. I gave up quite trying for some time.

We were still able to see several hard corals at the not-so-low stretches of the reef. Do you see what I see in this photo? There's a well camouflaged Hairy crab (Family Pilumnidae)!

As the wind was rather strong, it made photographing above water difficult. Thus, filming underwater became a better option. Here's a look at the Asparagus flowery soft coral (Nephthea sp.).

A lookalike to the harmless soft coral would be this fierce Fire anemone (Actinodendron sp.) that is packed with nasty stings if you touch it.

A few Spider conch (Lambis lambis) were spotted by a few of us. They are usually very well camouflaged from the top until you flip them over.

This brightly-coloured and large hermit crab is known as the Spotted hermit crab (Dardanus sp.). They are not commonly sighted on our trips and is probably the first time we see it on Terumbu Semakau.

I came across a few Bigfin reef squids (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) and this one was quite huge. It was about 25-30cm in length.

We also saw a few of the usual slugs and here's a front shot of the cute Polka-dot jorunna nudibranch (Jorunna funebris).

Though we started the trip with dark clouds looming over the skies, thank God we enjoyed a rain-free trip with lovely skies for the evening.

On our way back, we caught the moon rising from the eastern horizon with Pulau Jong at the background.

Here's a closer look at the full moon that seldom happens during Christmas Day!

More photos of the trip can be viewed here:

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