Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

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

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hantu Dawn

When we pulled into Hantu island on Good Friday morning, I noticed a silent bird on wing - a barn owl was just leaving the island, reminding me of the stories I've heard from the villagers that once inhabited the island, of owls coming to roost every night, eventually giving the island its name, as the word for owl in Malay is "Burung Hantu" or "Ghost bird" because of its nocturnal habits and stealth in the night. I knew it was going to be a good start to the day... The colours of first morning, were worth losing sleep for. Thanks to Ria for calling me along for this trip!
The beautiful colours of dawn kept all the photographers captivated till first light.
When we arrived the moon was still over the island and the sun had yet to rise.
At dawn, a Great-billed heron, the tallest sea bird to be found in Singapore at 110cm, stands along the reef at low tide. These birds are very difficult to approach. Their large size is not matched by an audacious demeanor and will quickly fly away when approached.
Good morning: The sun rises behind the Bukom refinery, casting light on Hantu island, and eventually letting us get to work!
A Goby has great camouflage.
There were HEAPS of seastars crawling all over the lagoon! Their footprints could be seen everywhere! The early seastar gets the mate! But it seems this morning, that there's more than one mate for everyone!
We had great weather that morning, check out the fair skies! Gorgeous!
Even a teeny tiny nudibranch is amongst some of the hundreds of animals you can encounter during a reef walk. This one was just grazing the surface of the water!
An eel gets an early start to the day, scouring every nook and cranny, not to mention every goby hole, for a big breakfast!
An Acopora coral braves the low tide
A large leather coral colony
Dr Chua EK photographs a green sponge colony.
As the tide comes back in, Hantu begins to look more like an island.
Fast food: A Cattle egret lands in the inter tidal pool in search for a quick and easy bite! He spent a good deal of time chasing around the fish with some luck. The fish in these pools are very alert and can be very fast swimmers! It's no easy meal!
Big fat Bubble shrimp on a beautiful, red-coloured magnificent anemone..
Was later found to have a house mate! Thanks to Dr Chua EK for spotting this!
Pulau Hantu formally had a great deal of mangrove trees lining its minute coast. Now 2 great big mangrove trees remain. Lots of small fish fry and be found amongst the air roots of the trees!
A swimmer crab is rescued from a discarded crab trap. We found it later to also be gravid. Hopefully it will live on to successfully spawn a new generation to succeed itself and its mate.
Great vis as seen from the Hantu Besar Jetty. Ooh, wish I had my dive gear!

See more pix of critters and of the reclamation scene just off Pulau Hantu on the Wildfilms Blog!