Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

July 4, 2009: Coral bleaching reversed at Mapur Island

Last month, the coral here was quite bleached and I was, to say the least, quite sad. I knew nothing about coral and coral disease so, turning this apparent liability into an asset, coral health became a learning opportunity.

I noticed that the water temp was quite warm last month. The ambient air temp was perhaps 33 or 34C and I suspect the water temp was about the same - 33C. As a learning opportunity, I had some communication with some reef specialists and learned that in some Pacific regions, there is transient bleaching during the summer which reversed during the "winter" months. Would the beaching I observed reverse?

I have followed the global warming discussions, but they did not touch me personally. Suddenly, with the potential demise of my weekends at Bintan Agro Beach - with snorkeling trips to White Sand and Mapur Islands - I was suddenly brought into actually feeling the potential distruction associated with global warming.

This trip, I packed an indoor/outdoor thermometer, my GPS and digital underwater camera (Olympus uTough 8000) as a portable laboratory. The ambient temperature was 32.4C and the water temp was 30.4C - 30.6C. I understand that anything > 29C is problematic, so at least this region is poised for bleaching activity.

Tables of Acropora

jul 04 0301 gray acropora

A small blenny, I think - to the left of the central coral structure

jul 04 0306 blenny

A small surprise. A new growth on the top of the Acropora cones

jul 04 0307 new growth

Giant tables of Acropora

jul 04 0308 acropora

Yu - an exchange student at NUS and spider enthusiast

jul 04 0310 yu

To be identified?

jul 04 0314 fish

More Acropora

jul 04 0318 acropora

More Acropora and some fish. The green Acropora is rather new

jul 04 0325 acropora

I believe the central region of the reddish Acropora is recovering from the bleaching episode

jul 04 0327 recovering acropora

Looking across the table

jul 04 0334 acropora

Hungry reef fish

jul 04 0339 staghorn

Soft coral that I've not identified

jul 04 0344 soft coral

More detail

jul 04 0345 soft coral detail

Another variety

jul 04 0349 new coral

Many fish

jul 04 0359 many fish

Many fish over old bleached / diseased coral

jul 04 0362 fish old new coral

Soft coral and some bleached / recovering coral in the background

jul 04 0365 recovering coral soft

More recovering coral, I think

jul 04 0368 recovering acropora

Another view

jul 04 0374 maybe reverse bleach

Interesting pattern of shades of green

jul 04 0394 green coral

Jolly green giant clam

jul 04 0414 green giant clam

Jolly blue giant clam

jul 04 0416 green giant clam

Another blue giant clam

jul 04 0417 giant clam

Soft coral to be identified

jul 04 0420 soft coral

A coral zoo - brain coral, acropora, and soft coral

jul 04 0423 colorful coral

Details of the soft coral

jul 04 0426 soft detail

Details of a maze

jul 04 0436 maze coral

More details

jul 04 0440 circle coral

White something

jul 04 0442 white stuff

Acropora and what I call table fish

jul 04 0444 table fish

Porites I think

jul 04 0435 circle coral

Interesting patterns in Porites

jul 04 0447 oval coral

Blue buds

jul 04 0451 blue buds

Sabellastarte indica (feather duster) worm - extended

jul 04 0454 feather tree

Sabellastarte indica worm - retracted

jul 04 0458 tree base

Blue Christmas tree worm

jul 04 0463 close blue tree

Closer view - more detail

jul 04 0476 blue tree close

jul 04 0488 soft coral

Closed or contracted anemone Heteractis magnifica

jul 04 0493 closed anemone

A small clown fish

jul 04 0472 clown babe

A hiding clown fish

jul 04 0505 clown fish

Sleeping clown fish

jul 04 0509 clown fish

The purple membrane of the anemone Heteractis magnifica - paying against the colors of the fish is just plain fun to watch (see video above)

jul 04 0515 clown anemone

Another view

jul 04 0516 clown yellow

The purple stalk of Heteractis magnifica and a family of happy clowns

jul 04 0518 blue anemone clown fish

Clowning around

jul 04 0527 clown fish

More clowning around

jul 04 0532 clown fish

Feather worm

jul 04 0537 christmas tree

A spider web?

jul 04 0539 web

On the edge

jul 04 0542 edge coral

A little fish

jul 04 0557 little fish

Yu diving

jul 04 0558 yu


jul 04 0560 unknown


jul 04 0615 staghorn acropora

Yu reflections

jul 04 0618 yu reflections

More acropora

jul 04 0620 green staghorn

A coral garden

jul 04 0622 coral garden

jul 04 0627 staghorn

Hungry fish

jul 04 0629 staghorn fish

More hungry fish

jul 04 0639 fish acropora

Soft intertwined coral

jul 04 0640 soft intertwined

Staghorn coral

jul 04 0671 staghorn fish

Baby clown and retracted anemone Heteractis magnifica (I think)

jul 04 0678 baby clown closed anemone

Inside the shell - a hiding hermit crab

jul 04 0681 hermit crab

A hermit walking

jul 04 0684 hermit


jul 04 0736 footprints

The beach at Mapur Island

jul 04 0737 beach

Yu and Gabe

jul 04 0747 yu gabe

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer