Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

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

Monday, March 20, 2006

Xplore! Program, Pilot dive @ Hantu!

Graduates and trainees from the Reef Xplore Program took to their first dive this weekend at Hantu. Hopefully this will be the first of many more dives to come! The Hantu Blog is very excited about enlisting their help and experiences on our trips, and those who are joining us for our Anniversary Dive on the 25th and 26th might get to meet some of them! Here, Xplore guide Howard Lee gives a safety briefing. Incidentally, Howard was the safety marshall for the SIF BLE expedition, so he's an apt person to be learning safety skills from!

Gorgeous weather, gorgeous water. Only bum is that the reefs were a little crowded that weekend - evidence that Hantu continues to be a popular and necessary location for dive businesses and recreationists in Singapore!

Xplore guide Gina Tan, with guest Chay Hoon (middle), and Xplore trainee Brenden Chua.

Super-charged Xplore guide Marco Perrig all rigged and ready to go! Marco is also a volunteer with the BWV and is a marine biologist from Switzerland.

Goin' down... Check the vis! Sweeeet!

Long-beaked or Copper-banded Butterfly fish

Butterfly whiptail. Different from the Paradise whiptail, this is the best shot I've got of this fish in all my dives at Hantu! So I'm very pleased! :)

Beautiful nudis!

Stoic cardinal fishes.

I took this picture, because 2 years ago, i shot 2 mushroom corals growing in a similar way. I'm going to go through my files and see if the location and specimens match. It is quite unlikely its the same one I saw 2 years ago because there are significantly larger than they were, but it'd be interesting to find out nonetheless! Stay tuned!

A goatfish speeds away. Another pleased shot :) Not David Doubilet material but hey!

A pretty head of coral...

And a HUGE seacucumber! Do you actually see how BIG this is!? It's massive! Seldom see seacucumbers on the reefs at Hantu and this is certainly the first time I've seen this species here. The Blotched Seacucumber is more common at Hantu's reefs.

We got to witness the barge coming into the channel between Bukom and Hantu to fill in the area. You can notice that the level of the barge is shallow when it comes into the channel but increases suddenly, probably when the sediment is being dumped into the area. This is what we can only assume, so if someone knows clearly what's going on here, we'd love to hear from you.

The barge reverses into the channel before heading back out towards the north.

Derricks erected and flags demarcate the zone between Ular, Bukom and Hantu - areas that are out of bounds for the time being for safety reasons.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Last & First (Day 02)

Alrighty, the winds and currents weren't as crazy as the day before, allowing everyone to have a more comfortable journey and dive.. With the raging winds, pummeling waves and surging currents from the day before; this morning's dive briefing had a crucial stress on dive safety.

As much as we like to focus our course on reef ecology, and natural history, it is impossible to make dive procedure and safety a distinct aspect because it is only after we ensure the safety of participants and the comfort of this assurance, that we as guides can more effectively convey the conservation message that is our objective.

So guides, continue to rehearse your dive and safety procedures in your head whenever you do a dive (I know several of you have booked the coming weekends or weeks at your favourite Malaysia dive site!) When you listen to your dive masters briefing on these dives (hopefully they are good ones, otherwise, diss it and know why!) take note on their methodology and systematics. In theory, we mentioned that we are always learning - these are some of the ways to keep yourself up-to-date and growing.

That said, we look forward to seeing most of you again on "graduation" nite. Until then, here are pictures from this weekend's dive - we don't have the pix yet, but Jani's team saw a Tigertail Seahorse and Moray eel! Awesome!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Last & First (Day 01)

Today was the 3rd and final (formally at least) practical for the trainees of the Reef Xplore! Program. The programe, which is intended to train guides to lead awareness trips for the public, is a joint project by the Blue Water Volunteers, Gill Divers and the Hantu Bloggers.

After 3 weeks of theory lessons, a written test, and 3 dives (at least) later, the trainees are closing the gap between being passive to active champions for our local reefs. Once certified of their competency, the guides will be able to assist in dive trips organised by either of the 3 organisations involved in this project. We're looking forward to setting the first public trip soon! So stay tuned to this Blog!

Reef Xplore! trainees have been trained in 2 sites for this course, Pulau Hantu, and Kusu Island.

This Saturday morning, the dive was to be had at Kusu. What were formerlly trainers (Tse Lyn and myself) turned to "clueless newbie local divers" and gave our future educators a chance at leading the show!

Despite some challenges (like the usual lost buddy), and a few small incompetencies here and there, these are some of the cool and amazing things that were on offer for our guides and the clueless newbies! (Yes! That's right! I've got a new u/w camera! Now, LOTS more u/w pix for you. I have kept them out and away for so long, so it's great to be back on track again! Whoopee!)

This is the first time I've seen an allied cowrie on the seabed! What this little critter was doing amidst strong currents, was leaving its whip (on the left of the picture) to (quite briskly!) traverse the silty seabed for several centimeters before coming to the next whip (not in frame). Gee Whizz! It was a bold creature! Made itself very conspicuous... a dangerous thing...