Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Saving Private Hantu

It was not long ago when i would cringe to the thought of diving at Pulau Hantu.."Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewww Hantu? See what? Why would i pay to see nothing but silt?". You see, my first encounter with P.Hantu was 5 years ago, about a month after i got my OWC. All i saw was an old tire , a metal chair frame and plastic bags on the sea bed. My sis who was brought me out on this trip was luckier, she managed to see a couple of fishes. So right....i felt like i wasted a hundred bucks.

Last year, i got back into diving, thanks to debby's "enthusiastic" pestering. Did a couple of dives in malaysia, gained some experience and was getting addicted to it. Started underwater photography too and needed to practice. So fine, i joined one of the dives to Hantu just to try and get accustomed to the camera. Yeah, i didn't expect to see anything actually. But boy was i surprised to see so much life down there this time round. I didn't go too deep though, stayed above 10m, it was bright enough to see lots of corals and fishes and nudibranches and a blue spotted sting ray.

I went back earlier this year and saw even more. Even our friend Nemo ( yeah i know , clown fish ) was there too! Kept it company for half an hour too! Saw a huge palm sized seaslug, couldn't believe my eyes at first! Flabellina's were everywhere, though very small, their unique colours stood out from the silty seabed. Everytime i wanted to take a picture of a coral, i would dust it first, kinda like preparing the subject for a photoshoot, putting make up and all...yeap, beneath all that dirt reveals a colourful treat!

Hantu IMHO ( in my honest opinion ) besides the visibility, has probably more coral life than any place in Dayang/Aur. Yeah, try fanning away the dirt from the next coral you see in Hantu and you'll see what i mean.

I believe that P.Hantu is a dive treasure. A part of singapore that should never be locked away. In fact , it should be protected and taken care of. Not just for divers, for everyone!

Is there really a need to reclaim all this land just to provide entertainment for the rich? Why build beach resorts to showcase what we've destroyed? Do we have to link up the islands when we can make decent revenue ferrying people around in our traditional barges? Is there really a demand for shopping centers on our islands? If i'm not wrong, why do singaporeans and of course the rest of the world, travel to places with clear blue waters just to rest and relax, even if they stay in wooden huts. If the plans to build on these islands ( without reclaiming more land ) include plans to protect and encourage growth in our reefs, i'm sure the rest of the world would give singapore a pat on the back. Lets not be conservationists only when people are looking.

Lets come together and leave no reef behind.