Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy CNY from Pulau Hantu!

Hi folks, it's been a while since my last post and I'm finally out of the hiatus. Here's wishing you a blessed Chinese New Year 2012! As usual, CNY coincides with low spring tide as the festive dates are determined by lunar calendar and that it is the moon and sun that determines the tides.

We visited Pulau Hantu after more than half a year and Chay Hoon found this "auspicious looking" commensal shrimp on the small bright red feather star. How apt it is for Chinese New Year! And furthermore, we have not seen this shrimp before!

And we found many more creatures in CNY-related colours like this unknown bright orange sea cucumber. I first found it on the blade of tape seagrass and initially thought it was a slug! We suspect this fellow to be the red sea cucumber (Actinopyga sp.) that we have sighted before at Semakau and Cyrene.

This sea cucumner has fluffy yellow feeding tentacles and is quite active.

For some reasons, there were many of these orange spotted Gymnodoris nudibranchs (Gymnodoris rubropapulosa). Maybe they are in season and just in time to appear during the festive period!

Here is shot of another of the same nudibranch taken underwater with my UW camera.

Chay Hoon found yet another special find! This is the Alicia sea anemone (Alicia sp.) that we seldom find on our shores. Though its name sounds pleasant and feminine, this sea anemone gives a super nasty sting if you touch it!

Initially found almost completely buried, this lovely heart urchin (Lovenia elongata) was quite a surprise find. It is probably the first record for Hantu!

Though the sargassum season is in full bloom, there is a stretch of reef in deep waters that could still be explored. There's lots of colourful Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.)!

The coral colonies here are large and thick! Here is a huge colony of plate-like coral with the Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.).

There are also many large colonies of Lettuce coral (Pavona sp.)!

Here is a photo collage of the various hard corals that I've seen at the reef edge. Indeed I got my coral fix here at Hantu!

It is at Hantu where we can find a sea of Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.) stretching across a large expanse of the reef!

Among the large area covered by the Galaxy corals, one can sometimes find other species of corals as well such as the Carnation corals (Pectinia sp.) and Tongue mushroom corals (Herpolitha sp.).

I also stumbled across this Fluted giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) which I believe is part of Mei Lin's giant clam project.

While it is definitely a relief to know that the resident Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea) is still doing well. I couldn't find it during our previous trip here.

This large Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) opens up like a skirt! Looks like a good design?

I have not seen this flatworm for a while already. We nicknamed this as the Phlegm flatworm as it indeed looks like the phlegm that we ah-choo out after a sneeze.... :P

I'm always not very good at shooting fishes. This is probably my first time taking into notice this school of Orbicular cardinalfish (Sphaeramia orbicularis).

More sea slugs! There are three of these Black phyllid nudibranch (Phyllidiella nigra) found together.

And on the blade of tape seagrass is this Lined chromodoris nudibranch (Chromodoris lineolata).

Ending off the CNY post with a few more orangey-looking creatures, this is the Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis).

And here's a big fat Stonefish sea cucumber (Actinopyga lecanora) wishing you a big fat and prosperous new year ahead!

Looking forward to our second trip out to southern shores later! We are going to Sisters Island. Thank God that there was no downpour and thunder yesterday. Hopefully the weather will hold for later as well!

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