Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

It's gettin' hot in 'ere!

The mass coral spawning at Raffles Lighthouse over the past two days was just outstanding! The Hantu Blog was kindly invited by the NUS to witness and document the event...







Apart from the fantastic spawning, we also saw heaps of cool animals like octopus, slipper lobster, sauron shrimp, squid, sweetlips, black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, mango snappers, indo-pacfic humpback dolphins, GTs, and a hawksbill...


Pardon the poor quality, this is a video still, shot at about 20m


They came really close!


Another video still. It didn't take much for us to shake this big hawksbill out of its sleep. The flash of our lights on this night dive sent it swimming away very quickly.


Little baby nurse shark


Sweetlips

The coral life at the lighthouse was equally magnificent. Several of the marine biologists and myself commented that diving there didn't feel like a dive in Singapore. BUT IT WAS!


Gorgeous coral cover!

"The water's so clear! It's like Tioman!" hollered the lot of us. I thought it was like Manado's house reef. Jani liked the wall exploration from 16m down. Each day we'd itch for the nightdives which were fantastic!



200 of the world's 700 coral species can be found here at Raffles Lighthouse alone! In an area .5% the size of the Great Barrier Reef!



Bye bye Raffles Lighthouse... Thanks for sharing your seas...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Anniversary Dive: Keith's images

It may not be very sharp (ok, it's completely out of focus!), but you can vauguely make out the face of the nurse shark in this photograph...



In better focus, is the tail end of this bottom-dwelling creature...



Again, we meet the beautiful Torzeuma armatum or Gorgonian shrimp, with a finger in the pic for comparisen.



Keith managed to quickly grab this swimming polyclad before it made its landing on the reef...



Thanks for sharing your pix with us Keith!

Got pix to share? Email us!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Silt starving Hantu's reefs

For almost a year, the Hantu Blog has been trying to show the beauty that exists on, around and beneath Hantu Island. Occassionally, we sprinkle a few pictures of the dredging, refinery or land reclaimation works that surround the island to put a bit of reality into the status of this aged, yet continually providing island.

But as you've read in the papers, the beautiful reefs that surround Hantu are being seriously threatened, at a rate much faster than nature can cope.

Here are images of the reef bearing the effects of siltation:



Silt is naturally brought up by cyclones and tsunamis. Construction along coasts, inshore construction, mining or farming upstream, or logging in tropical forests causes soil to erode and rush downstream into the ocean and onto coral reefs. This dirt, silt, or sand can make the water cloudy or muddy, smothering the coral which can't get enough light to survive.



Mangrove trees and sea-grasses which normally act as filters for sediment are also being rapidly destroyed (the present mudflat upon Hantu's western patch reef is testament to the loss of sea-grass beds). The loss of these filters leads to an increase in the amount of sediment which reaches coral reefs. Mangrove forests are often removed to create open beaches. They are also destroyed by prawn harvesters to open up areas to create artificial prawn farms. For this reason The Hantu Blog brings to mention the importance of our mangrove forests during our Blog trips.



Zooxanthellae (a kind of algae living within coral) depends on sunlight to manufacture food. The coral within which it lives has a mutualistic relationship with this algae, receiving oxygen and sugars produced by the alage during photosynthesis.



"The sand and debris deposited over the corals will eventually choke off marine species, endangering the intricate ecological balance between the coral formations and other sea species," says Kevin Shimrone Moses in an interview with ENN, with regards to coral bleaching due to sedimentation.



The zooxanthellae, now starved of sunlight, leaves the coral, and the coral turns to taking in food via suspension feeding. Biologist Zeehan Jaafar explains, "[The coral] cannot sustain life just by nutrients derived from suspension feeding. The hermatypic (sunlight-dependent) corals need the zooxanthellae for the food that these algae produced from photosynthesis. The algae is the one that gives the corals colour so when they leave the corals, there goes the colour too. This process is called bleaching."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Orange Striped Flatworm at West Hantu

Came across this pretty flatworm last week while transporting and hammering iron stakes to set up coral recruitment stations at the Pulau Hantu western fringing reef. It was so small (less than 1cm long) that I only spotted it when Jani pointed it out (goodness knows how she even saw it).





Also had some welcome distraction from the aching arms by these razorfish. Nice!


Paul's blog on Anniversary Dive

On Sunday, Mar 20, The Hantu Blog also made a trip onto Hantu island for a intertidal walkabout. Appropriately, the tide in the afternoon was low enough for us to cross the lagoon from Hantu Kechil onto Hantu Besar. Walking over to the big island also allowed them to be introduced to the islands surrounding Hantu such as Semakau, Sudong, Pawai, and Jong.

Divers had the unusual opportunity to investigate the different lifeforms that thrive in the sandflat, such as gobies, sea stars and fiddler crabs, as well as observe other cool creatures like birds and monitor lizards.



More pictures at Paul's Blog

Monday, March 21, 2005

ANNIVERSARY DIVE! (We're sorry you missed it!)

All the animals at Hantu came out to celebrate Hantu's first anniversary and commemorative anniversary dive! Make sure you have enough bandwidth for this! Cos' we're talking LOTS of pictures!


Volunteer Divemaster Jeff Greig is ready to go! Email to find out how you can become a volunteer DM with the Hantu Blog.

Company made the experience all the more special. Regulars and first-timers celebrated the event and all the specials that were to come...


Going down!


Leather jacket.. Check out the vis!


School of BIG spotted rabbit fish! Each individual was at least a good 30cm in size!


Then there was a school of Silver Moony, but they were too fast and this is the only picture I have of them... or of the one that was swimming a little slower... can u see it? Beyond the coral in the blue?


Pinnate Batfish.. don't worry, it's not caught in a Bubu ;)


Arrowhead Crab! Thanks to Wai Meng for spotting this! Absolutely well camouflaged I never would've noticed it!


Then Wai Meng went on a roll, spotting this Tigertail Seahourse. Excellent stuff!

Those great animals concluded our explorations on the Northeast fringe. Due to changing currents we moved over to the Western patch, fringe and sandbars and BOY! Was it no mistake...


This cool little sea slug was no more than 2cm in length! But it's a real beauty! And we'd never seen one like that before!


Then there was this Toadfish, hideous as hell, with a face only a mother could love. Maybe that's why it's so shy and not too happy with its picture being taken. A beautiful fish none-the-less, great spot by Keith! A first for the Hantu Bloggers!

Dusk into Night dive...


A test to see and a miracle to notice! These tiny nudibranchs Doto Bella inhabit the stems of giant hydroids at Hantu.


How cool is this? A little baby reef cuttlefish. Well, more like a teenager, this very friendly, curious or simply tolerant fella let me get within less than a foot of itself to steal this picture.


When I was in Manado, there was a pipefish I noticed always hung around coralline algae. That's because it looked like coralline algae. An exquisite animal I found unlike any other pipefish, it was almost god-sent that on this anniversary dusk dive, I spotted for the first time, Winged Pipefish (Halicampus macrorhynchus) at Hantu. This was only a baby tho', with its "wings" just developing. Outstanding.

As dusk turned into night, and we had to surface and leave this great island... a huge creature was lurking in the silted depths in search of dinner...


This hawksbill turtle, with a back speckled with barnacles certainly looked an old creature. Tho' it was just stark in front of me, and it was tempting as hell to touch it, this old fella garnered too much respect and awe for me to dare infringe. The reason why I've only got this shot of the turtle, and not all of it was simply bcos it was too big. With a carapace length of over 1.2m, this giant turtle I suspect to be a migrant, but wished might be a resident. This was a first turtle for Paul, who I'm sure is excitedly scratching notes of it into his log book. I was completely hysterical.

Jeff's group also saw a Seasnake and what we think is eel-tailed catfish, and Keith and Leong met up with a Nurse Shark.

There's only one way to make another day top this... DIVE SOMEMORE!

WE'RE A YEAR OLD!

Would you believe it!? It's been exactly a year since The Hantu Blog made its first blog!

For a year we've been celebrating Hantu's seas and breathing life into it.



Thanks to you: The reader. The diver. The photographer. The voice.



Continue to visit the Blog, share it with your friends. Share her seas, and talk about her and the work of the Blog.



Thank you for being a part of the effort! This week, we review our past year.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rare Nudibranch in Singapore Waters



The newly named Tritonia bollandi is known to occur in Japan and Indonesia. Now, thanks to photographer Lim Han Peng for sharing his pictures with Sea Slug expert Bill Rudman of the Australian Museum, we know this beautiful animal occurs in our local waters too! Visit the Sea Slug Forum to read about Singapore's Tritonia bollandi.

Seen something interesting at Hantu? Share it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jani's dive experience with The Hantu Bloggers


Jani observed an Allied Cowie for the first time!

Marine biologist, Jani Thuaibah has had over 300 dives in Singapore waters. She is part of the Blue Water Volunteers and joined The Hantu Blog for a leisure dive in February. Read her blog entry on her experience with diving with The Hantu Bloggers at The Blue Tempeh!

Monday, March 14, 2005

More than 100 horsehoe crabs rescued from gill net at Mandai



The horseshoe crab is a rare and endagered "living fossil" whose numbers have dropped significantly in the last 20 years.

More than 100 rare horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) entangled in a newly setup gill net in Mandai.

Graduate students from Duke University, US, on a Tropical Urban Ecology course conducted by Dan Ritschoff, visiting scientist and Honorary Raffles Museum Associate Paul Clark of the Natural History Museum, UK, and Raffles Museum volunteers (Toddycats!) found out... [full story]

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Semakau to reopen for recreationists




Pulau Semakau also has an extensive reef that is home to a diversity of reef animals.

For years, it has been the resting place for Singapores' rubbish. But from next month, the Pulau Semakau landfill could serve as recreational haven for nature lovers, bird watchers and sport fishermen... Full story [Text] [pdf]

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

GIANT CLAM RESTORATION PROJECT



Giant clams are an endangered species and are nearly extinct from our reefs. It is a beautiful animal and the biggest mollusk in the world, growing up to 4 feet long and weighing up to 550 pounds. Unique to the Indo-Pacific region, Giant clams are heavily traded for aquariums, restaurants, and as souvenirs. Because they need sunlight for food, sedimentation churned up by coastal development has seriously threatened their survival.

The Hantu Blog, together with the Tropical Marine Science Institute is launching a project to implement and monitor Giant clams in Hantu's reefs. This is the first time a Giant clam restoration project is involving the public in Singapore. It is a favourite animal amongst divers, it never fails to impress and is widely and heavily photographed. This truly is an opportunity to be a part of the effort to reintroduce a beautiful and ancient animal back into our reefs.

Volunteers will be involved in the task of transporting and implementating the articifial reefs bearing the clams onto the reef itself. You will therefore have to be a certified diver. This is the first stage of the entire restoration project. Followup trips will be conducted to monitor the growth and survival of the clams.

To register, send an email with

1. Your name and IC/Passport number,
2. Your email address, and
3. Your handphone number.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ria's talk

Ria gave a wonderful talk splashed with colurful pictures and sprinkles of humor at the library@orchard on Saturday afternoon.


"A feather star hooks on to the reef like this!..."

It was the crowd that really made the talk a great one, with an outstanding turn out of about a hundred people, who listened, laughed and lingered, picking up heaps of brochures and asking lots of questions; from "is the sea hare an echinoderm?" to "do you have a full time job?"


Ria: Great story-telling, Listeners: Really intent...!

Certainly a strong crowd grabber, were the beautiful prints of our unique coasts that were displayed at the library and appreciated by many!


Amazing...

Always important: FUND RAISING! Without funds, volunteer groups like the BWV, Wild Singapore and The Hantu Blog have to work a whole lot harder to achieve great deals for our coastal and marine areas. Contribute your money when you can. You'll be surprised how just a few dollars extra could make help make a project a success!


BWV volunteers educating and encouraging the public to purchase murchandise and become PRO-ACTIVE!

The Hantu Blog managed to steal a few moments from the talk too! Thanks to Dionne from BWV, who quickly threw the mike over the me after the Q&A session. We also managed to distribute some brochures on the Blog and our work! Yay!


"You HAVE to visit pulauhantu.org!"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

TODAY! Free talk on "Life on the Edge: Living Shores of Singapore"


5 Mar (Sat): Organised by the Blue Water Volunteers, Ria Tan will share her above-water photos and adventures on our rich shores, from the Southern Shores to Changi and beyond.

Time:3-4pm
Venue: Library@Orchard (at the Programme Area), Ngee Ann City #05-22/26 Tower B.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In time for the new season!

The Seahounds Scuba website is up again after being down for nearly a whole season! Swing into it today! But continue to check out their Blog, Seahounds Sniffouts for current news, and updates on what's happenning in our environment and how you can be part of the effort.