November 24, 2013
Diving at Pulau Hantu is all about going slow and staring hard at the substrate. A prefect critter for pleasure on our reefs then, is the sea slug. To photograph the Ceratosoma nudibranch above, I didn’t even have to dive! Just popped my head under the water, and there it was, crawling about the sargassum algae on the reef flat!
It seemed a good day for spotting sea cucumbers, there were several of them, like this Thorny Sea Cucumber (Colochirus quadrangularis) that gathers tiny food particles from the water with its colourful tentacles.
There were also these Synaptid Sea Cucumbers that can be commonly seen on our shores, but many have yet to be identified. Unlike the Thorny Sea Cucumber, these synaptids don’t have tube feet. Instead, they have tiny hook-like structures on their skin, which feel somewhat sticky to the touch and allow the animal to hold on to rocks or seaweed and seagrass.
Clinging onto the base of a gorgonian coral was this Allied cowrie. You can see the animal our of is shell. Compare both photos to see how the cowrie is able to mimic even the texture of the polyps on the gorgonian. In the bottom photo, its mantle appears smoother because it has shrunken back the bumps, probably because it felt disturbed by me.
The series of two photos above show the same filefish against two different backdrops. While it was swimming amidst the sargassum, and amidst pink branching sponge. See how it has altered it colouration even up to the top of its tail!
And a very uncommon NEW RECORD for Singapore waters! This beautifully coloured sea slug has been recorded in the tropical Indo-Western Pacific oceans, but this is a first record for Singapore! What a delight it is to be a part of these discoveries during our casual weekend dives! This is a reminder to keep your eyes peeled while diving, and make a note or better yet, take a photo of the things you encounter. What may seem common might just be something new! Photo courtesy of Toh Chay Hoon.
To see more photos from this dive, visit the Hantu Blog Gallery!