Traits of Shapes

Date October 14, 2019


In a recent blog post, I spoke to Hantu Blog volunteer Gina Tan about some lesser-known insights related to the shapes of coral. Samuel Chan is a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore’s Reef Ecology Lab. After reading our post about coral shapes, he reached out to us to clarify some of the points we mentioned and shed more light on the fascinating traits of coral shapes! Photos by Nicholas Chew/Toh Chay Hoon/Debby Ng Read the rest of this entry »

Shapes of Coral

Date October 7, 2019


You may have heard of boulder corals and soft corals, but did you know there were “runners”, “vines” and “trees” too?

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to catch up with Hantu Blog volunteer, Gina Tan. We spoke about sinking corals, butterflyfish and coral spawning. I was absolutely fascinated by her insight and unique views of the life history of reefs and wanted to learn her opinion about how our reefs, and in particular, Singapore reefs, might have adapted over time to become what we see today! Read the rest of this entry »

Cryptics, Mimics and Camouflage

Date July 29, 2019

Fishes at jetty

She looked down and saw “so many fishes!” Singapore’s relentless nudibranch hunter (armed only with a camera and a pair of superhuman eyes) spent a weekend with the reefs of Pulau Hantu and saw many creatures, great and small! Some where “pretending” to be something they are not, many were hiding, and others sat right out in the open because they were top predators! All photographs by Toh Chay Hoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Expectations

Date July 9, 2019


Hearing about our volunteer, Nicholas Chew’s, experience of a coral spawning dive reminded me of Jane Goodall’s story about watching a hen lay an egg. Photos by Nicholas Chew. Read the rest of this entry »

Reef Walker

Date May 27, 2019

Ribbon Worm

Nudibranch enthusiast Toh Chay Hoon, has been diving and walking Singapore reefs for over a decade. The two ways of discovering our reef offer very different perspectives, and an opportunity to encounter different wildlife! Creatures that live in the intertidal zone (and that includes coral) have to be able to tolerate fresh water better than their deeper counterparts (because fresh water floats above salt water). Because wildlife in the intertidal zone differs from those that live in the deeper parts of the reef, they find interesting ways to live and feed – like the ribbon worm above! These spineless creatures may not look impressive, but it has a cousin from the North Sea that can grow to 60m! Despite their benign appearance, ribbon worms have highly developed muscles that allow them to contract their bodies, shrinking to a tenth of their extended length when threatened.
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Singapore Reefs In A New Light

Date May 13, 2019


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


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 »