07 June 2011

Anemone hunt at Pulau Hantu!

We are back on the hunt, this time at Pulau Hantu!
It takes lots of patience to first, find the anemones. Then to wait to take a closer look at them. Especially the nervous ones that retract deep into hiding at the slightest sign of danger!

This is the curious sea anemone that we have been seeing on Pulau Hantu, and some of our other shores as well. Among ourselves, we call it the 'Hantuensis' although that is not its proper name. On Dr Daphne's previous trip some years ago, she had been looking for something like this, earlier described as possibly a new species. We didn't find 'Hantuensis' then, so it's nice to be able to show some to her during our trip today. It's hard to take a closer look at these nervous animals. But Nicholas and James managed to get one!
On the pretty pink soft rocks on the high shore, Dr Daphne spots lots of little anemones!
Chay Hoon finds more in the sandy areas.
We saw lots of Frilly sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.) in many different patterns and colours! We also saw many Wiggly reef star anemones which are very shy. Dr Daphne also saw a Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni).
Kok Sheng also saw the Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica), Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea), Bubble tip anemone (Entacmea quadricolor).

In the reefy areas, more NOT sea anemones that can confuse. The flowery polyps on the left belong to the Anemone hard coral (Goniopora sp.), while the roundish polyps of a Favid coral (Family Faviidae) may at first glance appear to be retracted anemones.
Today, we are exploring around the lagoon between Hantu Besar and Hantu Kecil. We hardly ever go here. I noticed there is good marine life here! In particular, many patches of branching corals!
There are also some nice colonies of other kinds of hard corals here.
There were many colourful sponges here!
Dr Daphne spots two Jorunna funebris nudibranchs!
I snuck out for a while from the hunt to check up on the mangrove trees that had settled naturally on the artificial seawalls of Pulau Hantu. Behind the wall, the refineries on Pulau Bukom with flaring.
Many different species of mangrove trees have settled here, forming a lovely mangrove fringe to the artificially created lagoon.
On the other side of the artificial seawall is a natural reef! Kok Sheng and James explore this area.
The mangrove trees here are very healthy and many are producing 'seedlings'.
As we are leaving, I noticed on the legs of the jetty, large and beautiful marine creatures. The Hantu Bloggers regularly dive at Pulau Hantu where they encounter all manner of amazing sea creatures. Ordinary people can join their dives to see our reefs for themselves!
Today, flaring went on at the refineries of Pulau Bukom that lies just off Pulau Hantu. The whole time that we were there in the morning. More about flaring.
After the trip, it's back to the lab! We try to set up the anemones so that they can 'relax'. That is, they reveal their tentacles so that Dr Daphne can take a closer look at them. This is the 'Hantuensis' that Nicholas and James managed to get. Burrowing anemones are more comfortable in a tube and held upright. Dr Daphne and Nicholas put together this 'relaxation' set up for such anemones!
I've noticed before these tiny circular things on our Tape seagrasses. Today, Dr Daphne kindly put them under a microscope so we could take a closer look. They are definitely NOT anemones. But we don't really know what they are. The center part of the animal is made up of fine little regular 'compartments' that look like a brick wall. They might be foraminifers or perhaps even bryozoans. So much more to discover about our marine life!
We also take a closer look at these amazing spotted anemones that Nicholas collected from our northern mangroves on a recce yesterday. They have very pretty spots. Dr Daphne has not seen anything like it and is excited to study it further. She first found them on her earlier trip to Sungei Buloh. Mangrove anemones are not well studied, and in fact, many people think mangroves have NO anemones. It would be wonderful if Singapore can be the location for Dr Daphne's study of mangrove anemones!
Dr Daphne took a closer look at the little anemones that were on the pink rocks. She and Chay Hoon found these too at Cyrene Reef yesterday.
At first, it was thought most of them were the same kind of anemone, the commonly seen Anthopleura dixoniana. Dr Daphne has just shared with me that some of them are entirely different and might be new records for Singapore! That's so exciting!

There is so much more to learn about our sea anemones!

This is the end of the low spring tides and thus no more anemone hunts. But the hunts resume when Dr Daphne's Sea Anemone Workshop starts (15-21 Jun). Ordinary people CAN join in as day participants to the workshop. Here's more information.

Posts by others on this trip
  • Kok Sheng with more anemones, some special corals and more!
  • James with lots of great close ups of anemones, giant clam and more!
  • Jerome on facebook with lots of landscape shots and more coming ...

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