21 June 2009

Fishy on Hantu

The nice thing about a not-so-low tide is to see lots of active fishes! At a super low tide, sea anemones are often stranded out of water, all bunched up in a blob. And the anemonesfishes that live in them huddled deep under the anemone.
Today, I saw a nice 'fluffy' Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) with lots of resident False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris).

There were at least four of these little fishes in varying sizes. And right beneath the very large anemone was an enormous mama fish! Her tail alone was the size of the largest of the smaller fishes that were frolicking in the anemone.
One of the distinguishing features of the Giant sea anemone is the purplish dots on the pink or orange underside.

As I was waiting for the tide to go out, I took the opportunity to look more closely at the tiny fishes that live on the upper shores. The water was really clear today, and there was zero wind, so I could take nice pictures of them.

There sure were a lot of gobies! I was looking at the pretty goby on the upper left corner, and nearly missed the well camouflaged one in the lower right corner of this photo.
There were lots of these little blue Tropical silversides (Atherinomorus duodecimalis) and they often got in the way of shooting other less frantic fishes.

Well, here's a closer look at some of the common gobies on Pulau Hantu. My favourite is the very pretty Head-stripe goby (Amblygobious stethophthalmus) that is often seen near reefs. I saw at least 6 of them, and they were the most active of the gobies seen today.Enormously abundant on Pulau Hantu is the Shadow goby (Acentrogobius nebulosus). In various sizes, these fishes openly lurk on the sand and don't even bother to swim away. Maybe they are so common because they are poisonous to eat. These fishes contain tetrodotoxin (the same toxin found in pufferfishes) in the flesh and internal organs. In some places, they are called the Poisonous goby.
Then there is the Common frill-fin goby (Bathygobius fuscus) that is delicately patterned and quite well camouflaged on the sandy shore.
This goby looks like it might be the Ornate goby (Istigobius ornatus) which is also very common on our reefy shores.I keep seeing this very beautiful goby but I still haven't figured out what it might be. There were many of these on the shores today.
Marcus also saw a shrimp goby (I tried to find one but failed) and James saw a mudskipper too!

There were a lot of halfbeaks (Family Hemiramphidae) cruising the water surface fearlessly. Their unfish-like body shape means they are often dismissed as floating sticks. Some small ones are brown and twig-like.
The halfbeak is so named because its lower jaw is much longer, while its upper jaw is short and triangular. 'Hemi' means half; while 'rhamphos' means beak or bill in Greek.
There were also several of these whitings (Family Sillaginidae) which constantly murked up the waters. These fishes eat small animals found on the sea bottom using their conical shaped mouths.
I only saw one filefish today, and I think it's the Seagrass filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus). I think James and I saw the same fish!
As I was looking around, this large fat Toadfish (Batrachomoeus trispinosus) waddled out slowly and settled under a coral.
There were several of these fishes. I have no idea what they might be. James has a much better photo of one.
And yet another unknown fish actively swimming about in the water streaming out of the lagoon.
In the deeper waters there were lots of splashing. Occasionally, sprays of smaller fishes would leap out of the water. There sure is a lot of fishes at Pulau Hantu!

While we didn't see any driftnets in the lagoons, I did come across one fish trap. It had two swimming crabs in it.

Other blog posts about this trip

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