Monitoring our Reefs

Date August 1, 2016

Tomato Anemonefish and Bubble-tip Anemone (bleached)
A handful of our volunteer reef guides are being trained in Reef Check techniques that will equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to help local scientists monitor our reefs. The first workshop and field trip was conducted in June and it was an opportunity for our guides to pay careful attention to the coral forms and the condition of our reef, while gaining experience in setting up reef transects with our volunteer trainers and instructors Jeffrey Low and Toh Chay Hoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Abandoned cats on Pulau Hantu: Update

Date August 1, 2016

The Hantu Blog got together with volunteers from the Cat Welfare Society to Trap, Neuter and Relocate (TNR) cats on Pulau Hantu. The Hantu Blog learned about the cats from campers who visited the island in June. Two cats were caught. They have been neutered, and we are looking for homes for two of them. If you are able to adopt or foster either of them, please get in touch with us. Otherwise, if you are a cat feeder and think that you may be able to assist in the integration of the striped tabby with your community cats, please let us know. The cats will not be returned to the island. We want to keep our islands free from cats and a safe refuge for migratory birds and native reptiles that use the island to feed, hide and rest. Read the rest of this entry »

New Species of Crab Discovered at Pulau Hantu

Date July 15, 2016

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Leucosiid crabs resemble pieces of coral rubble so well that it is almost impossible to see them unless they move [1]. In Singapore, two such leucosiids have previously been reported, both originally encountered at Pulau Hantu [2]. In June 2016, a new species was added to the list, Nursia tohae. It was spotted by none other than our gifted macro enthusiast, Toh Chay Hoon. The individual in the photo above was a female sized just 3.90 × 2.69 mm! In 1993, a new genus and species of leucosiid crab was described from Singapore’s mangrove swamps [3]. There’s so much to be discovered around our tiny little island! The more we discover, the more we realise that our small and precious wilderness areas are incredibly diverse and dynamic. Which is why we shouldn’t discount the size of our wild places. Just because they are small, doesn’t mean they can be easily replaced or that their loss will not be significant. Keep your eyes peeled! And allow yourself to fall in love with the wonders of our natural heritage!

Cats on Pulau Hantu

Date July 14, 2016

A group of campers who spent the night at Pulau Hantu in June shared with us the sighting of 3 feral cats during the night, one of which they managed to get a photo of. We are deeply concerned that people have been bringing their cats to the island to be abandoned. It might seem like a nice idea for a cat to have the whole island to itself, but in reality the island is home to several other animals such as migratory sea birds that must stop to rest and feed on the shore (on the mainland, cats have been observed to catch kingfishers), reptiles like water monitors (small ones are easily caught by cats), and not to mention the many intertidal animals that live in forage in the lagoons. Please do not bring cats or any animal onto our islands. Read the rest of this entry »

Sea slugs in sunny Singapore

Date July 13, 2016

Our band of intrepid local divers capitalised on the abundant sunshine and headed out to Hantu’s reefs this weekend. The photographs from this blog post were taken by Toh Chay Hoon, Singapore’s informal macro specialist, well known for her tendency to spot the small and miss the big! Her special skill brings us unique insight into the lives of tiny creatures on the reef that are often missed. Through her eyes, we are able to perceive the reef at a whole new level. This colourful sea hare, Philinopsis falciphallus, was a new sighting for Chay Hoon. Sea hares are Opisthobranchs that are characterised by a vestigial shell and two pairs of tentacles, which tells us its ancestors looked much like our common image of a snail. Read the rest of this entry »

Coral Spawning in Singapore: A Natural Wonder

Date April 30, 2016

Not much is known about coral spawning events, and even less is known about mass coral spawning in equatorial regions. In fact, it wasn’t until 2002 that researchers finally managed to pin point a time of the year, and a time of the day during which coral spawning can be observed in Singapore! You can imagine why this remarkable event has remained a mystery for so long. Corals, as we all know, live in the sea. So to see them, we have to be in the sea. There are many hours in a day, and spawning occurs just over a few minutes. In order to witness such an event, you have to be at the right place in the ocean during the right time of the year and at the right time of day. As you would have to be SCUBA diving, the duration you are able to observe the corals is limited by the depth and length of time that you can stay submerged! A very challenging task indeed! But, thanks to the curiosity and tenacity of our marine scientists and volunteers, and not to mention the accessibility of Singapore reefs, this event is becoming increasingly well documented in Singapore! We bring you a glimpse of this very special event through the photos and videos by Toh Chay Hoon. Above, polyps of a Goniastrea coral colony begin to release their eggs. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating 13 years of diving in Singapore: Why Reefs Are Relevant

Date April 23, 2016

The Hantu Blog celebrated 13 years of bringing divers and reef walkers to Pulau Hantu last month! What better way to commemorate this milestone than to do more diving! Some of our most veteran volunteers who have been with us for over a decade got together with some of our most regular divers to discover more about our reefs! We continue to be surprised by the diversity of life in Singapore’s coral reefs. Divers keep coming back because there is always the possibility of finding something new or observing unusual behaviour on the reef! Above, a Hypselodoris bullocki nudibanch has just laid a ribbon of eggs – the next generation! Photographs by Toh Chay Hoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Life on a Singapore Reef

Date February 2, 2016

While living on the reef may look like a cruise to the casual observer, life on the reef is in fact wrought with challenges! Little fish get eaten by big fish everyday. And big fish get eaten by even bigger fish. Whether it is day or night, animals on the reef have to balance looking for food or becoming food themselves. Even the coral that seems to just sit there has predators specially adapted to feed on them. The Copper-banded butterflyfish Chelmon rostratus (above) feeds on coral polyps, small invertebrates, and even anemones. It is one of the common butterflyfishes that can be encountered on our reefs., and form monogamous pairs. They are a precious part of our reef ecosystem and are an indicator species of reef health. Read the rest of this entry »

Seahorse, shrimp & sponges

Date January 18, 2016

Over the weekend, our Hantu Blog guides were joined with regular marine/coastal volunteers for a dive at Pulau Jong and Pulau Hantu. Our public dives are focussed on the reefs of Pulau Hantu because they are well sheltered and easy to navigate, and there’s always the promise of seeing something cool! But there are many more reefs located all around our Southern Islands. Divers can appreciate the unique geology of each site, which in turn influences the shape of the reef and the type of flora and fauna that lives and grows there! Pulau Jong is one of the last untouched islands in Singapore. What we see today is the original landform, and it gives us an idea of what the other islands might have looked like before they were hardened, developed, or reclaimed. While it is currently untouched, a 2013 Land Use Plan seems to show that future plans could involve its absorption into a larger land mass through reclamation, joining it with the islands of Pulau Sebarok to its southeast and the enlarged Pulau Semakau. One of the inhabitants on Jong’s reef include this beautiful shrimp (Hamopontonia sp.) in an anchor coral (Euphyllia sp.). Read the rest of this entry »

Diving into 2016!

Date January 11, 2016


The Hantu Blog kicked off its first dive at Pulau Hantu last weekend and were rewarded with lots of bizarre slugs and rare chance to see cleaner shrimp working on some fishes! Visibility was a challenging 1.5m but thanks to the keen eyes of our divers, even if they were new, everyone got to spot some cool critters, like this little fish hiding in a clam shell! Read the rest of this entry »