Singapore Reefs In A New Light

Date May 13, 2019

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In ultraviolet or in darkness, corals have many amazing surprises to reveal when we find new ways to look at them. Hantu Blog volunteers gathered to visit our reefs on this particular weekend for the chance to observe one of natures wild and natural wonders – mass coral spawning. Observing this natural phenomenon demands tremendous patience – corals don’t send out memos about when they are going to release their eggs and sperm en masse. In fact, we have yet to learn how different coral colonies coordinate their spawning. All we can do now is to watch in awe. Above: Observing coral colonies under blue or ultraviolet light allows us to perceive the fluorescent pigments that act as sunblock for the coral and its symbiotic zooxanthellae. Photo: Laval Foo/Hantu Blog
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When a Gymnodoris loses its spots

Date March 3, 2019

Favorinus sp.
Toh Chay Hoon is a veteran of Singapore waters, and is crazy about nudibranchs. She recently visited the fringing reefs of Pulau Hantu Besar (Big island), “Had two good dives on Sunday! Visibility was about 2m.” She exclaims enthusiastically. Above: Favorinus sp. on calcareous algae. All photos (C) Toh Chay Hoon, 2019.
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Nudibranchs and Natural Values

Date February 17, 2019

Nudibranch: Coryphelllina sp.

By Debby Ng: I was interviewed by a journalist this week who had lots of questions about Singapore reefs! She shared that when she first arrived in Singapore, she didn’t think this super-urban island would have any living reef left! Living reefs, especially ones next to huge cities, are a wonderful thing to discover and it is a real challenge to share how these reef systems are still relevant to urbanites when our lives can seem so disconnected from the sea. Above: Coryphelllina sp. All photographs by Toh Chay Hoon.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Turtle and the Parrotfish

Date January 30, 2019

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Hantu Blogger, Joel Santiago, was looking for a spot to do a safety stop at the end of a night dive when he noticed a huge parrotfish resting at the foot of the reef. He thought to himself, “That’s got to be the highlight of this dive!” As spontaneously as that thought had precipitated, his mind began to drift into the errands he’d have to do when he got back from his night dive, “I was thinking about rinsing gear…” The chore all divers are too familiar with, especially when we are on our homebound journey. Perhaps such is the nature of things when you go diving on a Sunday night and the thoughts of work at the office begin to loom. Read the rest of this entry »

Corals: Nature’s Construction Company

Date October 3, 2018

Detail of coral polyps (Favia spp.) Photo: Nicholas Chew

By Aidan Mock: I was on exchange in Perth for a marine biology class when it happened. We were sharing what our favourite marine animals were and an earnest student who didn’t have a background in marine science piped up and said “I know that they’re not animals, but I find corals really cool”.

That sentence hung in the air for a moment. And then there was chaos. Read the rest of this entry »

Singapore’s Seahorses – Sex, soup and sleep

Date August 4, 2018

By Aidan Mock: When I first started conducting research for this article, I googled ‘Singapore seahorse’ to get a feel on whether Singaporeans associated this noble sea steed more with the oceans or with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, it came to my surprise that the top hits were related to neither option . Instead, it appears that Singaporeans primarily associate the wondrous seahorse with … sleep.

Unfortunately the seahorse logo itself is inaccurate (seahorses generally curl their tails forward not backwards) but perhaps that is the lesser crime in this image.

In an attempt to correct this egregious but forgivable association, I write about the seahorses that live on Singapore’s reef: who they are, what they do, and why they aren’t any better for your body despite what TCM medicine advocates would want you to believe.

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The Sharks of Singapore

Date July 19, 2018

If you were to mention ‘Singapore sharks’ to the average person on the street, the most likely response that you would get would be ‘…fin soup’. And then, depending on the environmental awareness of the respondent, either a heavy sigh or a licking of the lips. However, few Singaporeans know that Singapore has real live sharks, and I’m not talking about the sort that live in aquariums or work in the financial industry.

In this post, I highlight the beautiful local sharks of Singapore and share some of their unique traits. I also speak to a shark conservationist from Singapore and ask her what can be done to better protect these fine fishes. (Above: Hantu diver, Wyatt Ang, had his GoPro on at just the right time! Divers in the foreground missed the special encounter – wouldn’t it be great to have eyes on the back of your head!)

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World Oceans Day Singapore – A Plastic Nightmare

Date June 25, 2018

By Aidan Mock: This month we celebrate World Oceans Day! The focus of this year’s World Oceans Day was to inspire action to prevent plastic pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy ocean. In this post, we highlight the scale of plastic pollution in Singapore, feature the activities organised by marine organisations in Singapore to celebrate the special day, and survey the things that we can do to reduce our plastic footprint.

A plastic balloon seen on the Hantu reef in 2014.

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Hantu Blog – 15 years of coral reef outreach and education in Singapore

Date June 17, 2018

By Aidan Mock: The Hantu Blog celebrates its 15th Anniversary this year with – but of course – a dive at Pulau Hantu! Many creatures were spotted during the dive, demonstrating that there is still much biodiversity to be found. Highlights from the dive (and a quick walk down memory lane) after the jump!

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Singapore’s own Crush and Squirt

Date June 4, 2018

By Aidan Mock: Reflecting on World Turtle Day, I recall two memorable characters from my childhood, Crush and Squirt – the chilled-out turtles from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. The turtles in the movie were plying the east coast of Australia, but did you know that the hippie turtles depicted in the movie have friends that live right here in Singapore? Singapore’s southern islands has resident Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and as it turns out, this little red dot might play an important role in facilitating Hawksbill turtle migration in Southeast Asia, and several brave turtles have already set up shop in our waters! Here’s introducing our humble half-shelled residents! Explore their life story in Singapore, and hop on to the current for a ride!

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