30 August 2015

Special snails at Pulau Hantu

There is a living reef on Pulau Hantu just across the massive petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom.
We surveyed it this morning and saw living corals, special snails and more.

I headed straight for the reef edge. The tide was not as low as our last trip in Jul 2015. Here, there are areas densely covered with a variety of hard corals.
Colourful corals in various fabulous shapes!
More corals!
There are a lot of Circular mushroom corals.
Mushroom corals turn pink when they are stressed. This one is indeed stressed because it was turned upside down. I saw 5 upside down mushroom corals. I wonder how they ended up this way?
There were also many large elongated mushroom corals including Mole mushroom corals, Tongue mushroom corals.
Another huge mushroom coral, this one looks like a Feather mushroom coral with a Red swimming crab.
Only a few of the hard and soft corals were pale and 'bleachy'. Most of the corals seemed alright.
Thanks to Danwei, I learned that this coral is a Merulina! I didn't know they come in branching forms!
A few of the Pore corals had greyish patches. Recently at Chek Jawa, we found some coral-eating nudibranchs at such patches, so nowadays I look closely at them. Today, I noticed a gathering of snails at the area. They too are probably eating the coral. They look like some kind of Drill.
Animals on the reef appear to be more active in the dark. Today, I was lucky to see some reef animals that I've never seen before. I don't know what cowrie this is. Some estimates suggest Singapore has lost half of the cowrie species. I hope this is one of the 'lost cowries'.
The first time I've come across this pretty snail. It looks like a turban snail, the Tapestry turban snail (Turbo petholatus) which is listed as Endangered in Singapore.
I seldom see this crab, and usually at the reef edge. It looks like the Saw-edged spooner crab. I saw two of them today.
Many creatures on the reefs are well camouflaged. This banded bit alerted me to the possibility of a special fish.
Can you see it now?
How about now?
Indeed, the Tiger-tailed seahorse is superbly camouflaged. This one was a 'pregnant' male.
Here's another well camouflaged fish: the False scorpionfish.
Often mistaken for a rock, this is the White-rumped sea cucumber. It is identified by the white ring around its butt.
Of course, the Master of Disguise is the Reef octopus. I saw many of these today.
I saw a few of these small feather stars with pretty banded arms. The feathery arms have tiny 'hairs' that forms a net so the animal can gather edible particles from the water.
While I did come across cropped Tape seagrasses, most of those I saw were long. There were sprinkles of Spoon seagrasses, most of them heavily covered in ephiphytes.
The water was quite clear under the jetty. There are huge corals, lots of colourful fishes. The Sargassum seaweed appears to be starting to bloom.
Some strange sightings at the end of the trip as I waited for the boat to take us home. A pair of men crossing the lagoon from Hantu Besar to Hantu Kecil, carrying a bucket and a ladder. I'm not sure what is going on.
On the side facing Pulau Semakau, I saw something that looks like it was quite close to the shore. I'm not sure what it is. Heavy machinery parked there? Working on the Hantu seawall? I checked the MPA notices of coastal works and couldn't find anything relevant mentioned there.
There was a fire at Pulau Bukom on 21 Aug that caused some serious injuries. So far, there is no further details than those compiled in this post. Today, I didn't see any obvious signs of impact to the marine life at Pulau Hantu.

This is the last predawn trip to the South for 2015. Tomorrow we have our last predawn trips to the North.

Photos by others on this trip


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