Saturday, May 1, 2010

My first Hantu guided walk

It's May Day! Happy labour day to everyone. Today's also my first time guiding at Pulau Hantu!

After an hour ferry ride from Marina South Pier, the participants of the walk were all excited when they set foot on this island that has an interesting legend that gives Hantu its name.

Before we hit the shores, we had a quick look at a number of coastal plants such as the Casuarina tree, sea almond tree, sea hibiscus etc.

Upon reaching the sandy area, we saw two types of footprints. One belonging to the first group of participants led by July, and the other by a shorebird!

Just beside the sandy area is actually mangroves! Pulau Hantu is one of the few accessible islands with mangroves. Most of the participants in my group have not been to a coastal nature area before and they were wondering why the mangroves has a weird smell.

Sometimes you might smell something similar to rotten eggs near mangroves and this is actually due to the presence of sulphur in the anaerobic (lack of oxygen) conditions of the substrate.

One of the highlights found by the hunter seekers will be this special six-armed Common sea stars (Archaster typicus).

In fact there were many more of these stars that my group came across along the way and the participants had fun spotting these stars on their own.

It was not too long before we spotted this pair of loving stars mating through what we called the pseudo-corpulation. Common sea stars release their eggs and sperms externally. Their proximity increases the chances of fertilisation.

Our hunter seekers also found a pair of these gorgeous Lined chromodoris nudibranch (Chromodoris lineolata). As its species name (lineata) suggests, this nudibranch has lots of lines on its body.

Walking nearer to the lagoon, we also spotted lots of other organisms such as fiddler crabs, hairy crabs, soft corals, sponges, hard corals etc.

What amuses me will be the comment made by one of my participants saying the cranes at the background look like giraffe. Yet, on a more somber note, it is also all these works that has made the waters more sedimented.

Nearer to the mouth of the lagoon towards the coral reef edge, we managed to have a good look at this tiny Spotted-tail frogfish (Lophiocharon trisignatus) which has a "bait" to attract prey.

There were also a number of the large Giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) which I believe there's nemo or false clownfishes in some of them. However, these nemos are usually too shy during low tide as they tend to hide underneath the carpet anemones.

Facing the petrochemical industry of Bukom, it is heartening to have a coral reef that is still doing well just a stone's throw away.

Here are three of the Circular mushroom coral that the hunter seekers have found. They are very cute and yet are not attached to the ground.

The top find of the day is something that we want to see but not step on! It is probably the largest Hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) that I ever came across.

Ending the intertidal section of the tour, we took a group photo! :)

While waiting for the ferry to arrive during our rest time, one participant asked about a bright coloured flower and wow it is the flower of the Sea poison (Barringtonia asiatica).

They usually come with four white petals and lots of fine, pink-tipped stamens forming a pom-pom shape (about 10cm).

Here are the yellow-tipped stamens.

And it was fun to witness the bees pollinating in action!

In overall, today's trip has been great, with great company as usual. Two more intertidal trips to go! :)

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