23 September 2013

Pulau Hantu check up


Hurray! The Fluted giant clams (Tridacna squamosa) that Kwan Siong first spotted at Pulau Hantu is still there.
We were also treated to a gorgeous sunset, as well as sightings of interesting marine life.


We had started to see many of these Fluted giant clams on our last trip to Pulau Hantu in May 2013.  I couldn't find the others because the tide wasn't very low today. There are other big molluscs on Pulau Hantu too. Like the enormous Giant top shell snail (Trochus niloticus). And the endearing Spider conch (Lambis lambis).
A closer look at some of the patches of rich reefy life: soft and hard corals and sponges in bewildering colours. It was hard to explore the reefs thoroughly because the Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) has started to bloom. It's not good to step onto heavy growths of this seaweed as we may damage corals or get hurt by stepping on dangerous animals.
This cluster of Anemone coral (Goniopora sp.) looked a little too yellow to be healthy.
One large Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.) seemed to be partially bleaching, as well as one  brain corals (Family Mussidae) and one  Pore coral (Porites sp.). But most of the corals I saw were alright.
I saw one Anchor coral (Family Euphyllidae) and two Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.) were were not bleaching. These two kinds of corals were among the first to bleach during the 2010 global mass coral bleaching event. I didn't see any Crinkled sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.).
There were many Branching montipora corals (Montipora sp.) and Favid corals (Family Faviidae) and they were mostly alright.
Some of the Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) were pale or yellowish, but most were their healthy purple colour. I didn't see any leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae) that were bleaching. Various species all looked fine.
The only Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) I saw looked a little banged up. It had a pair of anemone shrimps.
There were more Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) and some of them had large 'Nemo's or False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris). This is good because for a while, we didn't see these fishes in the anemones and I was afraid the fishes were being poached.
There were several clumps of these tiny fluffy critters which I think are some kind of hydroid.
I came across this sponge that was covered with tiny creatures that appear to have a pair of tentacles with a kind of 'skin' around their middle.
Are those tiny critters the younger version of these little Spionid worms (Family Spionidae) that commonly coat all kinds of sponges.
The huge Perepat trees (Sonneratia alba) on the shore were blooming! After sunset, the white flowers blossomed into fluffy pom poms. I thought I saw some bats flying past,  but I didn't see any stopping to feed on the flowers.
There was this interesting moth on the Perepat tree. Alas, I have no idea what it is.
I had a quick look at the amazing mangrove trees that have regenerated naturally on the artificial seawalls of Pulau Hantu. The tree look healthy.
The Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) were mostly nice and long, although I did come across several patches with cropped blades. There was not much Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis).
I noticed these odd patches on Tape seagrasses where the brownish scum growing on the seagrass blade had been regularly scraped away. I couldn't find the animal that did this.
I also came across the super well camouflaged Seagrass seahare (Phyllapsia sp.) that is often seen on Tape seagrasses. They appear to 'clean' large areas of a seagrass blade.
Our last trip here was in May 2013 in the morning. The low spring tides are now in the evenings. And we had a great sunset, over the living shores of Pulau Hantu that lies just across the petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom. Today we didn't see any fish traps or nets on the shore.
It is also possible to dive at Pulau Hantu! Join the volunteers of the Hantu Bloggers who conduct guided dives this reef every month!

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