18 November 2012

Night of 'Nemos' at Pulau Hantu

The clown anemonefishes are back on Pulau Hantu! I saw six of them on different sea anemones and most anemones had at least one fish.
Also colourful flatworms and a quick check on the corals on a wet rainy trip.

It was good to finally see many False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) on Pulau Hantu. For a long time, we missed seeing them. My last sighting of them on Pulau Hantu was in Jan 2011.
The anemonefishes were found in the many large Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) on the shore. The large Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) is still there.
We arrived in heavy rain and strong winds. Fortunately, there was no lightning nearby. When the downpour eased into a light rain, the team headed out to explore the shore.
On this trip, I explored the reef that lies a few hundred metres from the massive petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom where light flaring was going on throughout our trip. Although the Sargassum seaweed (Sargassum sp.) made it difficult to explore the eastern reef flats, there was still lots of marine life to see on this stretch and in the lagoon.
I saw two of these Orange-white black flatworms. I saw one the day before at St. John's Island. Are they in season? I also saw the Dawn flatworm (Pseudobiceros uniarborensis) and Persian carpet flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi).
I also came across this pretty snail. Soft coral ovulid snails live and feed on soft corals. I see this kind of ovulid snail more often on our Northern shores, and this is my first time seeing one in Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae).
I came across an explosion of tiny Swimming anemones (Boloceroides mcmurrichi) in the bloom of Sargassum seaweed! They were very well camouflaged.
I saw two Noble volutes (Cymbiola nobilis), one of them laying an egg capsule. While these snails are commonly seen on Pulau Semakau, previously, I don't see them very often on Pulau Hantu.
Sheltering in among the seaweeds were a wide variety of small fishes. Pei Yan found a seahorse too!
The only slug I came across was this Seagrass seahare (Phyllapsia sp.) on Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). It looks a little different from the one I found the day before at St. John's Island.
I also came across the shell of a dead cone snail. I've not seen this snail alive on Singapore yet. Hopefully I will, one day.
Unlike our friends at the Hantu Bloggers who visit this reef every month, I haven't done a proper check of Pulau Hantu since January 2012. While many of the Asparagus flowery soft corals (Family Nephtheidae) were rather yellowish (healthy ones are purple), all the leathery soft corals I saw seemed healthy.
I came across a few hard corals of various kinds that were very yellow or pale.
The Acropora coral (Acropora sp.) I came across were half dead with only small portions still alive. The Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora sp.) I saw were either half dead or very white, although the polyps on the living parts were still brown.
But most of the hard corals I saw were not bleaching.
I also came across healthy colonies of these hard corals that were among the first to bleach during the bleaching event in 2010: Crinkled sandpaper coral (Psammocora sp.) and Anchor coral (Family Euphyllidae)
We came across two crab traps that look like they were recently laid on the shores. We removed the traps. I also failed to find the Burrowing giant clam in the lagoon. Where I think it was, I saw instead a large deep hole that looks like a boat strike. Oh dear.
Our last visit to Pulau Hantu was nearly a year ago. I couldn't cover much ground today because of the rain. It's a pity that we don't have enough low tides to visit all our favourite shores more often. The series of back to back low tides are now over, time to get some rest before we resume our trips next month!


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