17 April 2010

Pulau Hantu is alive!

The reefs of Pulau Hantu are awesome!
Here's three people taking different photos, all at the same time! We were sharing Hantu this early morning with first time visitors Grace, Adrian, Ann, Paul and Christel.

Here's Christel taking photos of the corals. It wasn't a very low tide, but it was slow and the visibility was good (for Hantu).
So we went to the reef edge where we could get tantalizing glimpses of the hard corals crowding in the shallows before plunging off into the deep end.
This really teeming patch of reefs extends quite a distance.
Here's a closer look at how many different kinds of corals grow near one another at Pulau Hantu.
And yet another look.
There are all kinds of hard corals here. Among them, from left to right - the rarey Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.), very rarey Horned coral, and not so common Ridged plate coral (Merulina sp.). Also lovely Carnation coral (Pectinia sp.), common but still pretty Flowery disk coral (Turbinaria sp.), Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora sp.), I liked this pinkish little colony. As well lots of Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.) and little Goniopora corals (Goniopora sp.), and a young colony of Brain coral (Family Mussidae).
There were also lots of mushroom corals: from left to right - the Sunflower mushroom (Heliofungia actiniformis) which in the South, I've only seen on Hantu and Semakau. In some parts of the reef, there were lots of Circular mushroom corals of all sizes. And I saw one very large Tongue mushroom coral (Herpolitha sp.).
Other relatives of hard corals include the carpet forming corallimorphs. There were carpet corallimorphs and the ridged corallimorphs.
Hantu is also a great place to see the Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) and there were lots of them huddled together in the lagoon. We stalked some and saw Anemonefishes in them! But the fishes are very shy and hard to photograph. We also saw Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) some with shy anemonefishes too.
But my special anemone sighting was this bunch of little anemones. Well embedded in crevices of some coral rubble. The tentacles have bulbous tips. I'm not sure if these are very young Bubble tip anemones (Entacmea quadricolor) or something else altogether!
The nastiest thing we saw on the shore today were the Ribbon jellyfish (Chrysaora sp.) with long trailing that can pack a powerful sting. We saw many floating about in the water. So it was a good thing everyone wore long pants! Even jellyfishes washed up on the shore (photo on the left) can continue to sting. So don't touch them!
I'm in ascidian mode these days in preparation for the arrival of the ascidian experts next month. Here's some interesting blobs I saw today that might be ascidians (Class Ascidiacea).
Fortunately Ivan and Andy were with us today. Ivan found lots of interesting things and shared amusing stories about them.
Like this Spider conch (Lambis lambis). This snail has endearing large eyes on long stalks and instead of crawling slowly along like most other snails, it hops!
Among the other interesting things, Ivan shared a Glossodoris nudibranch, Andy spotted a red feather star and octopus, Grace saw a ball of baby Striped eel-tailed catfishes (Plotosus lineatus) and many anemonefishes in their anemones, and lots more.

But the best find of the day was a special crab found by Ivan.

We also had some fun spotting little critters like this Blue dragon nudibranch (Pteraeolidia ianthina). I only saw one, Ivan saw another one next to it!
Although Chay Hoon is not with us, we remember how she taught us to look for tiny slugs (Costasiella sp.) in the Fan seaweeds. Some of the seaweeds had coils of what look like egg masses. And others had teeny tiny slugs. Maybe a new batch of these slugs are just starting up?
We also appreciated the common marine life, like colourful swimming crabs (Family Portunidae).
The Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) were abundant on the shore and many were in 'mating' position.
Many of the Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) in the lagoon were fruiting! The hairy round fruit when ripe, opens up to release floating seeds.
While there were lots of shorebirds out on the reef flats and in the lagoon, hunting during the brief low tide. This little white egret was splashing around in the lagoon. Ivan also pointed out the Great billed heron that was foraging in the submerged reef nearby, and the Kite that was harassing the shorebirds.
Today, there were many campers on Pulau Hantu. As we were about to leave, a family on the jetty hauled up a trap with two swimming crabs and one Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus). Let's hope they are not going to eat the Red egg crab as it's one of the most poisonous crabs in Singapore!
Below in the water, was another large crab trap. Inside the trap, I could see a large Red egg crab.
Pulau Hantu is very much alive! Let's hope the marine life survives all this collection and the flaring at Pulau Bukom that was going on all the time while we were there.

8 comments:

  1. Wow, Ria! Pualu Hantu does have many interesting marine life indeed! Your blog post give me confidence that controlled and sustainable developments are able to preserve surrounding natural environments.

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  2. Thanks for your encouragement JK! Yes, it is nice to see the living reefs so near our major petrochemical installations. I do hope the current flaring at Pulau Bukom doesn't affect them too much.

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  3. Hey! It was a great trip! I really enjoyed myself! Count me in for future stuff!

    ~Adrian

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  4. Glad you enjoyed the trip Adrian! Yes, we sure had a great time!

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  5. speaking of ascidians, I spotted (but failed to take pictures of) a sponge crab with a couple of bright green ascidians. I swear to goodness it was snacking on them.

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  6. Wow, Grace, that's a great observation! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Hi All

    The pictures are great!would like to enquire on the cheapest way to get there.I have checked with Islandcruise and they are charging $380 for 12pax private charter.Kindly advice.Thanks!

    Kim

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  8. Yes Kim, it is rather pricey to get to our Southern Islands via private charter.

    Please email me if you'd like more details on arranging trips to Hantu. My email hello@wildsingapore.com as indicated on this blog.

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