Saturday, February 9, 2008

CNY 2 on Pulau Hantu (8 Feb 2008)

:: Chinese New Year usually is a done deal for me by the first day. Thus, when Ria was so kind to organise trips to the Southern Islands during this festive season, I pounced on the opportunity to escape from festive obligations. Well, how many rounds of mahjong, bak kwa, tangerines and pineapple tarts can one take before ennui and indigestion sets in? ::

:: My first time on Pulau Hantu, and no there are no hantus (not that I saw or felt one that is) on this beautiful islet. Many families come here over the long festive weekend to camp and it turns into a kampong of sorts. ::

:: There are three lagoons on the island, and just across, one can see the massive silos and refineries that make our nation very rich. One might think with such polluting industries relatively near to the shore there wouldn't be much to see but the reef and marine life seems to be thriving in the waters off Pulau Hantu.There is a even a group of Singaporeans who come to Hantu to dive and discover its natural underwater beauty. Turtles have been spotted here too! ::

:: A narrow channel seperates Pulaur Hantu from Pulau Busing and Pulau Bukom::

:: Top Left: Common sand star (Archaster typicus)Top Right: Tape sea grass (Enhalus acrorides) covered in some sort of algae or animal (ancidians?) Bottom: An indignant crab all riled up to do battle with me::

::Saw these two fishes (blennies? gobies?) doing this sort of dance among the sea grass. Strange though, one has its mouth attached to the belly of the other the whole time. Collecting eggs? Perhaps they are mouth breeders ::

::Spectacular fan worms::

:: Chay Hoon found this lovely feather star (crinoids or sea lilies)::

::The globally vulnerable Giant Clam. Found two of them in the lagoon, fairly big. One of them had a mushroom coral or bubble coral living next to it. The colours you see are zooxanthellae (algae) which lives in its mantle and the clam opens its lips in the sun so that the algae can photosynthesis, and extract nutrients from them. In return, the clam protects the algae. ::

:: Colonial anemones or zoanthids. When submerged in the water, its tentacles come out to feed on zooplankton.::

::The reef reveals itself to us as the tide receded. Lucky for us, the water was super clear today and we saw plenty. However, sargassum seaweeds were growing thick across the reef ::

:: Leathery soft corals like these can be seen with their polyps out, some the size of coffee tables. ::

:: Corals living on top of other corals ::

:: This coral is named dead men's fingers ::

:: Magnificent and giant anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea & Heteractis magnifica) can be found, though i personally didn't see any clown fish aka nemos, they do live amongst these beauties.::

::And, found near these huge anemones are tiny frilly anemones.::

::More soft corals. Again, I couldn't find any shrimps, coweries or snails on these pink corals ::

::  Saw mushroom corals as well, with their polyps out too. They can actually move ::

:: Siyang, Sijie, July and Ron found these very auspicious looking red feather stars ::

:: Top: A tiny perfectly round hard coral (faviidae). Bottom: Blue sponges amongst zoanthids ::

::Nudibranchs named discodoris boholensis.How I recall its latin name? DORIS the BOHO LEN's SIS-ter likes to go to the DISCO.
(thanks sijie for the heads up on my spelling mistake...btw, this flatworm is probably first found on the island of Bohol in the Philippines ::

:: As dusk, came Ria and I explored the other lagoons. We saw amongst this clump of orange sponge a swimming anemone and a flat worm. ::

:: As I was walking back to the first lagoon, I found these two sad looking nudibranchs. Can see the rhinophores? ::

:: The common sand stars are out on the sandy part of the lagoon. I just found out that their anuses are located on top of their bodies ::

:: And to end of the night, I perved on sand stars having sex. The males are on top while the females are below, usually minding their own business until some horny sand star comes by and climbs on top of them and clamps themselves between the arms (rape!). Okay la, they just release eggs and sperm into the water ::

:: Thank Ria for organising this Chinese New Year trips. And everyone else who made it so enjoyable. And thus to say thanks I have blogged about our wonderful trip, though I hate it (blogging, not the shore) and its painful and I should be sleeping. Okay, Kusu blog tommorrow or later or something. ::

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