03 May 2014

Checking up on beautiful Pulau Hantu

A glorious sunrise as we headed out to Pulau Hantu. For a day of marvelous discoveries at the seagrass meadows, mangroves and coral reefs found on this little island.
We also removed a 100m long abandoned driftnet, and checked the shores for coral bleaching and other threats.

I still can't walk fast or far so I only did a short circuit of the main swimming lagoon created by building artificial seawalls. Amazingly, marine life has returned within the lagoon. There are many small clumps of Tape seagrass in the lagoon. Fortunately, they were mostly long and lush. I only saw a small patch that was cropped to about 20cm.
There were also small patches of Spoon seagrasses with small blades, especially near the reef crest.
At the opening between the seawalls and outside the seawalls, there are MORE corals. The rest of the team walked all the way to the reefier parts and saw amazing marine life as the visibility was awesome today. On the horizon, storage tanks on Pulau Busing next to Pulau Bukom. The brown coloured tanks were probably recently constructed.
There is a coral garden right opposite Pulau Bukom which has massive petrochemical plants. Throughout our stay, we got strong whiffs of hydrocarbons.
I am worried for our reefs. Will there be global coral bleaching again this year? According to the NOAA Coral Reef Watch site, large swathes of our region is under coral bleaching watch (green), with patches of warning level (orange) and some already bleaching (red). Fortunately, Singapore appears to be just outside the green area.
From NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Thus, I was relieved to see that corals susceptible to bleaching were alright today. Such as Cauliflower corals and Crinkled sandpaper coral.
I was delighted to see a happy and healthy Anchor coral, which often suffers badly during coral bleaching.
Most of the Pore corals were alright although some were pale and some had pink patches.
I came across other common corals and they all seemed alright.
The soft corals seemed mostly alright, although I saw several Asparagus flowery soft corals that were very pale.
More photos of happy corals hard and soft.
There were as usual many Favid corals, and this brain coral. All seemed alright. I also saw several Magnificent anemones and Giant carpet anemones, but didn't find any clown anemonefishes in them.
The reef is great feeding grounds for birds such as the Reef egret. This white one was energetically hunting in the lagoon.
Hurray! Russel showed me this rather large Fluted giant clam. The rest of the team also saw several more giant clams! We had started to see many of these Fluted giant clams on our trip to Pulau Hantu in May 2013 and saw them again in Sep 2013.
A variety of mangrove trees have settled naturally on the artificial seawall at Pulau Hantu! Just beneath the naturally regenerating mangroves on the seawall are corals and seagrasses!
Among the trees were those listed as Vulnerable on our Red List such as Bakau pasir and Tengah putih.
I saw two small healthy Nyireh bunga trees. One was flowering and another had a developing fruit!
There were also some little mangrove saplings that have settled in the lagoon. I hope they will be allowed to grow up.
Some parts of the shore was covered in this brownish seaweed. I'm not really sure what it is. I don't remember seeing a bloom of this seaweed before.
One of the main tasks on this trip was to remove a 100m long abandoned driftnet that was first spotted two weeks ago by Debby, Pei Yan and other Hantu Bloggers who were conducting a guided walk at the time. More about this on Pei Yan's blog. Today, we had a team of experienced people to quickly and safely deal with the net. More about the removal on the Project Driftnet blog.
The driftnet removal effort is documented on The Drone by the Drone Commander, Pei Yan.
I also saw some large debris in the lagoon. It looks like some sort of structure that was on a boat?
A pile of burnt rubbish was also seen on the high shore. Sigh. If they can bring the stuff to Pulau Hantu, why can't people take back their trash with them to the mainland?
Photo by Andy.
As we were waiting to go home, a giant 'mountain' on Jurong was pointed out to me. There were also 4 people standing on the reef edge to fish. In the jetty with us was another large group of fishermen well prepared for fishing.
We saw three people on jet skis zooming up and down the channel between Pulau Hantu and Pulau Bukom.
There was also a group of divers at the jetty. The visibility is very good today!
Pulau Hantu lies just opposite Pulau Bukom which has massive petrochemical plants. Here's a view of the humungous cloud of emissions from Pulau Bukom, as a huge containership passes by, on our way to Pulau Hantu in the morning.
Thanks to all who came to help remove the net and also check up on the shore: Marcus, Nicole, Pei Yan, Chay Hoon, Sankar, Ivan, Rene and Kwan Siong. Special thanks to Andy and Russel for the delicious snacks that kept us going during the very long wait for the return boat trip.

My last trip here was in Sep 2013. It is also possible to dive at Pulau Hantu! Join the volunteers of the Hantu Bloggers who conduct guided dives this reef every month!

Photos and stories by others on the trip

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your write-up. Never had to chance to visit this place before.



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