Blog Log: 28 November 2010 Slugs, Snakes, Sharks

Date November 30, 2010

A rare opportunity to visit the waters of Pulau Hantu in the dark brought together some of the islands biggest fans – and we mean, a pair of 1.2m sharks and a serpent of the sea. Divers ooh-ed and ahh-ed all the way from our Southern Islands. While I was home nursing a broken elbow, I was receiving Tweets and Facebook updates about conditions and critters encountered at Hantu. Now, you and I can see what we both missed. (Above: Mushroom coral, the largest coral polyp in the world)

A pair of Flabellina nudibranches gather to feed upon silt-layered hydroids.
Though just black and white in colour, this small and fragile marine flatworm stands out brilliantly on Hantu’s reef.
Carpet eel blennies are really good at disappearing into the reef. Their cryptic colours allow it to blend perfectly into the patterns of Sargassum algae or the convoluted nooks and crannies on the reef. This image seems to make this usually perfectly camouflaged critter pop out from the background. If only they were this conspicuous on the reef!
A pair of sharks squeezed tightly beneath a coral head seem to think they are alone in the reef, but our diver quickly broadcasted news of their presence and all the divers gathered to see, at least the rear ends, of this couple. Though we don’t have a clear shot of these individuals, they were likely to be Banded Cat Sharks (Brownbanded Bamboo Shark) Chiloscyllium punctatum. Both catsharks and Tawny nurse sharks have barbels on their snouts. Juvenile catsharks lose their bands when they become adults and car grow to 104cm while the Tawny nurse shark can reach up to 350cm in length. Both species are harmless and active at night. Catsharks are commonly sighted on the reef at night and are frequently caught by fishermen.
A Blue-spotted fantail ray was spotted in a coral head close to where the two sharks were sighted. It was cartilaginous corner.
Several brilliant and bizarre sea slugs were also on the checklists of our divers, and I’d bet they got more than they were ready for.
An anemone fish peers out onto the reef from within the safe tentacles of its host anemone.
Filefish or Leatherjackets are common the reef, but this Feathery filefish Chaetodermis penicilligerus is less common.
No dive at Hantu is complete without a sighting of a seahorse.

To see the complete set of pictures from this dive, visit the Hantu Blog Gallery.

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