Back to Normal

Date April 29, 2009

Debby, Hantu Blogger

That’s right. Things are back to normal again at Pulau Hantu after a month of great visibility in March. Finally the water has gotten worthy of its namesake and is once again MUCKY! It wasn’t easy taking the above picture of myself. The camera kept focusing on the particles floating in the 2 feet of water between my face and the lens!


The exciting thing about diving in really low visibility waters is that you never know that you might literally BUMP into! I think I thought this pufferfish bumped into me as much as it thought I bumped into it! This picture actually represents it better than I SAW it. The below video will give you a more accurate impression of what it was like to BE IN low visibility waters.

I was shocked by a  Blue-ringed angelfish just before I got shocked by this large shadow hovering in the water. For a moment it swam towards me too (as I had to inch closer towards it to figure out what it was), perhaps curious of the large shadow before it, but after discovering I was nothing it’d get just fun or food out of, it swam backwards to the spot where I found it we found each other.


So I retreated into the shallows where there was more light and began photographing the corals – which I haven’t been doing for a long time. I’m glad I ventured into the shallows because I was made to recall all the exciting things I used to come across in the bright shallow reef slopes of Hantu.


I slowed down for a moment to observe barnacles sift plankton out of the water and make a meal out of it.


And because I was keeping so still and moving so slowly, I attracted some curious fish that didn’t mind coming to hang about me. Like a whaleshark has its cobias, and a turtle has its remoras, I had my Whiptail in Hantu!


I also spent about half of my dive if not 2 thirds of it, camping outside the burrow of this tiny little goby. Though it was incredibly skittish, whenever it came out from its burrow, it would jump all the way out, well infront of the entrance of its burrow, unlike other gobies that tend to inch forward out of its burrow slowly. I’d noticed it had a colourful dorsal fin but whenever it came out of the burrow it often had its dorsal fin folden slick along its back. But with patience, I managed to get this picture with its bright blue details on the tip of its dorsal fin.


I also practiced coral ID by going about the corals and taking their pictures. I realised that after not paying much attention to the corals for a long time (because I’ve been busy with the critters) I’ve quickly forgotten the names of some of the common corals in Singapore. Time to brush up!

Serpent coral

This Serpent coral looks beautiful and its pattern mesmerising, but look a little closer and you’ll see that its ridges are crawling with a small, well-camouflaged invade – acoel flatworms!

Flabellina IMG_0142 IMG_0150

There were also larger cousins of the flatworms – nudibranches! The other divers saw some different slugs about the reef. Stay tuned to this blog, we’ll be posting their pictures here soon!

Carpet eel-blenny

You can’t tell how well hidden this Carpet eel-blenny was in the mucky waters. This picture shows it clearly but it was hard to spot! Thanks to Julynn for spotting this!

Icon seastar

Old favourites – Icon seastar

Seagrass filefish Goby on barrel sponge

Other fish we spotted – Seagrass filefish and a goby resting upon a silt-smothered barrel sponge.

Tomato clown anemonefish

In some small places between the rocks, there are also brightly-coloured active little things like this tiny Tomato clown anemonefish that was bouncing about in its anemone.

Ming Sheng

At the end of the day, we were bouncing about our boat because everyone was so cold! Towards the end of our second dive the visibility began to decline because ominous storm clouds had obscured the daylight! Upon ascending, we found ourselves in a low visibility surface, with rain clouds and rain splatter (from the surface of the water) coming from all directions! Here, volunteer diver Ming Sheng approaches the dive boat at the end of our day of diving at Pulau Hantu. What an adventure! Thank goodness there’re still some places like these left around Singapore to put some jazz into an otherwise monotonous urban landscape.

2 Responses to “Back to Normal”

  1. Acentrogobius said:

    Your handsomest fish here is a Flagfin prawn goby (Mahidolia mystacina). This one appears to be a male, their spots are much brighter than the females. Nice shot!

  2. Acentrogobius said:

    Your handsomest fish here is a Flagfin prawn goby (Mahidolia mystacina). This one appears to be a male, the bright blue spot on the dorsal fin is less bright in females. Nice shot! The smaller goby appears to be Eviota sp.

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