Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Focus on your world

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is holding its fourth International Photographic Competition on the Environment under the title "Focus on Your World".

"Focus on Your World" will create a visual journal depicting the challenges facing Earth's rich environmental diversity.

The extraordinary diversity of life on our planet is endangered. Enter "Focus on Your World" and photographically express your hope, joy, anger, and concern for all life on Earth.

Send in your photographs. Showcase your world.

Monday, August 23, 2004

What the coral?

This beautiful coral was photographed last Sunday and it was pointed out by one of the participant divers, Han - Thanks Han!

Initially, I thought this coral was Pectinia but I wasn't sure, and was a little confused by its colouration. So I enquired with the NUS marine researchers and they think it's Echinophyllia, but they also informed me that the only way to do a positive ID is to get a section of the skeleton, as it could also be Oxypora. Apparently the two corals are similar in appearance, but differ in morphology. I also learnt that colouration is not factored into the identification of coral.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


From a fellow diver...

Letter dated 16 Aug, 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Got something to say?

Want to SMS the government to share your views and aspirations for the nation?

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports is launching a public consultation exercise especially for young people.

Public feedback has a greater influence than is realised. If you have something to say, now's the time!

Email creating_our_future@mcds.gov.sg, call 1800-3535555 or SMS 6353-5555, and start speaking up for our wild places!

More info...

Monday, August 16, 2004

Hantu Blog Log 15 Aug 2004

What a great day it was out at sea today! Absolutely favourable sun and water conditions. Vis was a good 4-5 meters and it was bright as day even at 16m - stunning!

Thanks to the gorgeous weather, we managed to catch up with a whole bunch of old friends this weekend: Yellow emperor, sea grass filefish, swimming crab, honey head damsels, yellowfin angelfish, false clown anemonefish, rabbit fish (startling school!), marine worms, absolutely stunning sea slugs, paradise whiptails (we were very happy to see them again cos it's been awhile - they usually hang out on the sandflats where its dark), squirrelfish, copper banded angelfish (we NEVER get enough of them, they're absolutely facinating to watch - feeding off the coral crops for polyps and always in their pretty pairs), icon stars, blotched goatfish, blue spotted ray, false scorpionfish, sergent majors, sandperch, frillfin gobies, diamond wrasses, scaly damsel and heaps of other damsel species... it was incredible!

Since the vis was good, we took advantage of it my venturing into the "seafan garden" round SW point to the southern stretch of Hantu. We didn't manage to explore the appropriate depths where the huge gorgonians sprout, due to time, but we knew when we're near the area where the seafans grow, continuously flushed by currents, as we approached the area we observed an increasing number of sea whips and seafans. It was beautiful.

Some of our enthusiastic divers also took a swim to the shore and visited the mangroves, and spotted schooling halfbeaks! Excellent! An absolutely huge and stunning crop of Montipora.sp along Hantu's southern stretch

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Frogfish at Raffles Marina!

Here is a testament as to how rich Singapore waters can be. Just beneath the pontoons of the Raffles Marina, there is a truly unbelievable variety of life. Walking along the pontoons and the berthed vessels, butterflyfish, archerfish, emperor fish, filefish and an outstanding variety of worms can be observed. A wonderful diversity of sponges proliferate inches beneath the waters surface and everything can be observed topside! I could've spent hours on my belly watching the worms crawling over the sponges, hydroids and algae, retracting at my slightest vibrations.

When biologists from the NUS RMBR were poking their noses about Raffles Marina 2 weeks ago, they ran into what initially looked like a green sponge but turned out to be a green frogfish upon closer inspection! OUTSTANDING! Thanks to Jani for these pix.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Crocodile fish found

Ghost nets are abandoned fishing nets that drift in our seas, entangling coral and drowning animals along its aimless path.

During an intertidal walk on Aug 1st, a crocodile fish was found tangled within a gill net along Hantu's SE reef. A rare specimen and always a favourite amongst divers, it's unfortunate this popular animal fell innocent prey to an irresponsible man's habits.

The line of the net was so fine, lifting it left a paper cut on our fingers. It had cut through the animals' gills and by the look of its mouth largely agape, we agreed it must have suffered an agonising death.

The UNEP Fifty Key Facts About Seas And Oceans reports:
"Global by-catch — unintended destruction caused by the use of non-selective fishing gear, such as trawl nets, longlines and gillnets — amounts to 20 million tons a year."

A little bit of litter can have more severe repercussions than imagined.

So please, be a responsible sea-goer.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Nite dive @ Hantu - Return of the bobtail squid

Night diving in Hantu was amazing. The waters were absolutely rich. Annelid worms were all over the place, and so were the shrimp that fed on them. A closer look at branching coral always revealed crabs and brittle stars. Fish were also easier to spot, approach and photograph as they were asleep within coral and rock crevices. But the highlight of the night had to bobtail squid.

An amazing TWO specimens were encountered during this single night dive. Thrilling! One was right there during the descent, swimming right into the light. But it was too quick and too small for me to photograph. 40 mins later though, I ran into another one! Which seemed more calm and less in a hurry to get anywhere. So I spent a good 15 mins with it and got these shots.

Characteristic of bobtail squid, the animal landed on the sand bottom when it noticed a threat(me!) and slowly wriggled itself into the sand. When it'd got half its body in, it lifted its tentacles from beneath the sand and began sweeping sand over its back and head, until only its eyes were left peering over the sand. It was absolutely mind-blowing and amazing behaviour to observe!

Bobtail squid occur in several varieties and were also spotted in Sentosa.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Wild Singapore - Wild Lives

Chek Jawa lady Ria Tan invited me to be featured on her Blog on Wild Lives, part of the National Day Committee 2004's MoBlog Singapore.

Wild Lives showcases ordinary people making a difference for Singapore's wild places in their own, little ways. Swing by the site to discover how every little effort can go an extraordinary distance, and how several individuals are working together, though independently, to celebrate and protect our wild places, and how YOU could be a part of the effort as well!

This is an excellent opportunity to extend an awareness of Pulau Hantu and how ordinary people can make little but significant contributions to our natural heritage.

Our Hantu Blog is powered by a mass of individuals with a passion for the environment. There are many who champion our jewel of a Southern island in their own quiet ways, but these are people who have made a difference for Pulau Hantu, through the Hantu Blog...

Siva & Kelvin (RMBR), Stephen Beng (Seahounds), David Wong (Divers Dreams), Volunteer Divemasters: Joshua, Edd, Paul, Jack and Jeff, those who have generously shared your photographs on our gallery, givers of feedback and ideas and certainly the divers who have been coming back and telling your friends all about Pulau Hantu!

Volunteer Divemasters and reef guides Debby, Joshua and Edd, making a difference to our natural heritage in which ways they can.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Blog divers SPEAK

Rediscovering our backyard with the Hantu Blog: Sam, Josh, Han & Pin

"First dive at Hantu. Bad vis! Amazingly, if you look hard enough, creatures can be found. I will return!" - Paul Cheng

"Average vis but above average experience. Saw more icon stars than I have in over 10 dives at Hantu. Also learnt they are a vulnerable species. What do you know? Learn something new each time." - Samuel Wong

"Lotsa silt but full of life. Diverse stuff." - Guan

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Hantu Blog Log 31 July 2004

Making friends and sharing our natural heritage are Blog divers Guan (left) and buddy James.

We were all worried about the weather at first because the morning began with a storm! We ran a little behind time because it took the boat longer to get there in the stormy seas, but all was good when we arrived at the island - the storm cleared, the clouds parted and it was refreshingly beautiful.

We were greeted by a Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana, Brahminy kite Haliastur indus and Black-naped terns Sterna sumatrana, coastal birds which were hunting or just sitting out the storm on the island. We also heard Kingfishers calling from within the island. It was absolutely buzzing!

Stuff we saw: Honey head damsel, cardinal fish, sand gobies and their symbiotic shrimps, rabbitfish, marine worms, sea grass filefish; and while animals were hard to spot because of today's low vis, divers took the opportunity to learn more about the reefs ecology by identifying coral, sea grass, algae, tube worms and learning how to spot where a sea cucumber is sleeping!