Monday, June 8, 2009

Hantu underwater world

There is an underwater world at Pulau Hantu. During high tide, one can dive off the island to discover the rich marine life that belongs to our Singapore waters. During low tide, the intertidal area of the shore and reef is exposed where one needs not to dive to catch a glimpse of the splendid underwater world of Hantu.

Pulau Hantu is just a stone throw's away from Pulau Bukom, where oil refineries and petrochemical plants are located. Yet, we are proud as Singaporeans to tell the rest of the world that coral reefs can reside next to such developments!

So what exactly is Hantu? Hantu means ghost in Malay! And how adequate is to ecounter this Horn-eyed ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus) at the ghost island.

Wading in the tidal pool, cautiously avoiding any stonefishes or stingrays, I saw this squid swimming past! And I didn't know it was holding on to a newly-caught fish until I processed the photo back at home!

Talking about fish, there are lovely nemos at Hantu's underwater world!

Ron and I saw a couple of False clown anemonefishes (Amphiprion ocellaris) in a Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea). The male was smaller as compared to the female (the female in this photo).

These nemos are made popular from the movie Finding Nemo. Unfortunately, that also increased poaching to support the aquarium demand. As for me, I still prefer them to live happily in the wild. I still can visit these nemos during low tide trips, yet need not take care of them and worry they die in a tank due to unsuitable conditions.

Another fish, which we are definitely wary to step on, will be the Blue-spotted fantail ray (Taeniura lymma). As its name suggests, it has lots of bright blue spots on its brownish yellow body.

Another special fish found at Hantu will be the Fringe-eyed flathead (Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus).

This must be a vain vain fish! Because it has golden "eyelashes" or fringes over its eyes! :P

Of course, Hantu is a great underwater coral garden! There are lots of corals in different forms, shapes and sizes. And it is one of the best southern shores to find mushroom corals!

My camera went underwater several times today to try and photograph these beautiful creatures relaxed with their tentacles out!

The mushroom coral on the left belongs to the Mole mushroom coral (Polyphyllia talpina) while the one on the right is the Tongue mushroom hard coral (Herpolitha sp).

Unlike most other hard corals which are colonies of tiny polyps, some of the mushroom corals of the Family Fungidae consist of just solitary polyps. Furthermore, mushroom corals are not attached to the surface as adults and they can move! But very slowly.

This circular mushroom coral will probably give a better image for you to visualize mushroom corals being one solitary polyp by itself!

Other stunning corals encountered will be this bright green Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.).

And I never get tired looking at the Galaxy coral (Galaxea sp.) which looks like galaxy of stars underwater!

Underwater, the leathery soft corals also look pretty with its polyps all stretched out! Unlike hard corals with polyps of tentacles in counts of six or multiples of six, soft corals have tentacles in eight or multiples of eight. Each polyp of this soft coral has eight polyps. Can you see?

Other than hard and soft corals, there are also many pretty corallimorphs that do look like anemones.

Ron found this special anemone! It is the Pizza anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum). And do you think it looks really like a pizza with an outer thicker crust?

At the top left, you can see the mouth at the centre of the anemone and it is bright yellow in colour. The underside, as shown on the top right, is greyish with bumps. The bottom right photo shows the side of the anemone that is differently coloured and looks like the crust of a pizza.

The last photo on the bottom right shows their tentacles which are short, tiny and tightly packed. They are very sticky, hence another common name for it is Adhesive anemone. This also explains for the species name adhaesivum.

Another anemone found here is probably the Frilly anemone (Phymanthus sp.) that is darker than the usual ones we see.

And here we have a magnificent find! Why? Because this is the Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica)! I think it is not wrongly named because it is really huge and looks just so spectacular.

The reefs off Hantu has plenty of the red feather stars which I also encountered last month. They can be relaxed with their arms out or feeling "tensed" curling their arms into a ball.

Despite the abundance of featherstars in bright red, July found this crinoid in black. Hehe... and I found out later than Ron and Robert found one in white, which I've not seen before!

Even the seaweeds look beautiful underwater (a good change of focus from my usual emphasis on seagrasses). On the left is the Big parasol green seaweed (Caulerpa peltata) and the one on the right is a less commonly sighted species which I do not know what it is. it seems to be slightly conical in shape like the ends of a dumbell.

And they look just so stunning in great numbers! The green is just so lovely!

Another brightly coloured creature will be this Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus).

Just as the tide returns, which inevitably stirs sediments, there was a finale find by Ron. And that will be my second time seeing the Yellow-lipped sea krait (Lauticauda colubrina)! It was gliding real quick.

The returning tide signalled the end of the morning trip, coupled with a glorious sunrise over Bukom and the oil refineries. Singapore is just so special, with everything crammed together. Yet, there is diversity where an underwater world can exist beside an oil refinery.

More about the special giant clam find of the day here. And my numerous other photos taken that day in my Flickr page.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...