20 April 2011

Sharing our shores with Pierre-Yves Cousteau

What a delight to spend almost the entire day sharing our shores with Pierre-Yves Cousteau who is in town for ADEX 2011. Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and NParks National Biodiversity Centre organised a trip for him to see our intertidal shores as well as to dive our waters!
It was very kind of them to invite me to come along for this special trip. Our first stop at sunrise was at Sisters Island!

Also with us were journalists and photographers from The New Paper and My Paper. So there were many stops to pose for photos. Here, in the lovely sunrise over St. John's Island. It was also a great opportunity to showcase our shores to our local journalists!
How fortunate that we managed to get a glimpse of two very shy 'Nemos' or the False clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) hiding in their home, the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).
Another Giant carpet anemone had anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis). Jeff earlier shared how some people thought they had to dive in Manado to photograph these animals, only to find out that they are quite commonly seen on Singapore shores.
The visitors are great at spotting stuff. Like this tiny flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.) as well as an even tinier Pimply phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiela pustolosa).
These Very hairy hermit crabs (Dardanus lagopodes) are often seen on Sisters Islands, although they are quite hard to spot.
Pierre-Yves spotted this Ornate leaf slug (Elysia ornata)! These are also well camouflaged.
Jeff finds and shows us the Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) found in the lagoon.
Here's a closer look at the clam. The stake next to it shows that Mei Lin has already recorded it in her study of the Giant clams in Singapore.
Pierre-Yves also finds a pair of Spider conch snails (Lambis lambis)! Although well camouflaged from above, they are very pretty underneath.
The hard corals that I saw seemed to have recovered from coral bleaching. They seemed much better than during my last trip here in Jan 2011. Although the lagoon seems a little sparse. Perhaps not all of the corals survived the bleaching?
Circular mushroom corals (Family Fungiidae) are still abundant on Sisters Island! They seemed quite well and unbleached. More about coral bleaching on Bleach Watch Singapore.
Oh, a hidden Blue-spotted fantail ray (Teaniura lymma) is seen! Only by the little blue tail is sticking out as the rest of the fish was hidden under the sand and a hard coral.
Wow, Ivan Choong found a pair of seahorses! They blend right in with the branching sponges that are commonly seen here. They are probably Tiger-tailed seahorses (Hippocampus comes).
Fortunately, today we didn't meet Mr Stonefish (Synanceia horrida). But we saw Lined eel-tail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus), rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae), lots of other small fishes. And this False scorpionfish (Centrogenys vaigiensis)!
Ivan also finds a reef octopus! Ivan runs Dive Books which will also be at ADEX 2011 with special offers on marine reference books.
Another awesome part of the trip was that we travelled on the Seashaw, at the kind arrangement of Howard Shaw. This yacht is so enormous that it had to park quite a way off the Sisters Islands. We took a smaller boat there.
Before we left for our intertidal trip, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast.
After the intertidal trip, the more intrepid among us went for a dive at Sisters Island. Here's Jeff starting them off. They saw sea fans, feather stars, and lots more.
Then we were off to Pulau Hantu for the second dive. The Seashaw is so awesomely huge that it has a crane to lift up the smaller boat.
Here it goes up! Wow! I'm very impressed.
In between the trip and dives, Jeff gave two presentations about our shores and some of the issues that impact them as well as the many efforts for our shores. With lots of pretty pictures!
Pierre-Yves also shared with us his "Cousteau Divers" programme, a global network of divers engaged in the study and preservation of marine ecosystems worldwide. It comes with a great checklist that divers can use to record and share their sightings.
After a delightful lunch, the team went for their second dive despite the rainy weather. It sure looks cold. I'm glad I could stay warm and dry on the big boat.
They saw lots of stuff at Pulau Hantu! I sneak some shots of photos that Jeff took. Like this pair of mating nudibranchs.
And a black anemonefish with white spots, the Dascyllus anemonefish (Dascyllus trimaculatus)! This fish is not often seen in our waters. They also saw a grey nurse shark, stingrays. Before the dive started, Uma spotted a sea turtle! We are glad Singapore's shores put up a good show today despite the wet weather. Especially since this is Pierre-Yves' first dive in Asia!
Our special guest had to work very hard all day. After the dives, more interviews with the journalists.
All too soon, the trip ended and we leave the awesome Seashaw!
Pierre-Yves Cousteau will be at ADEX 2011 to give talks, and will also be appearing on radio and other media to share about marine conservation.

More about Sisters Islands and Pulau Hantu with links to more photos and blog posts about trips to these places. You can also dive Pulau Hantu with the volunteers of the Hantu Bloggers who conduct guided dives regularly here.

Jeff shares more photos of the dive on his Compressed Air Junkie blog.

More photos on The New Paper website

2 comments:

  1. Great to see clammy growing well!! New white scutes are always good signs of health and growth. Awesome trip Ria! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, glad to know that! Thanks Mei Lin! Yes, it was a great trip!

    ReplyDelete

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