Batfish, Bornellas, and Blennies in Bottles!

Date April 8, 2013


Elegant squat lobster ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

As the boat pulled up alongside the reefs of Pulau Hantu, and we gazed down through the water at the corals below, I reminded the divers that surface visibility can be very deceiving as conditions can be quite different once we descend below. Perhaps it was the evening showers we had on Saturday night that stirred up conditions at the islands, but we were determined to make good of this because after all, this is what local waters are famous for – low visibility! And make good we did! We made great, actually! With all creatures great and small to satisfy even the mega fauna addicts within our group!

There were two Squat lobsters hiding within the crinoid. This was one of the most co-operative crinoids I have ever worked with. Ok, and Squat lobsters too. Most crinoids will curl up, which signals to the squat lobsters to scuttle within the crinoid and that would be the end of the photo opportunity. Crinoids look like plants but they are actually animals related to sea stars and urchins. Bizarre isn’t it!?


Tritonia bollandi on gorgonian coral ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

Tritonia nudibranchs have more commonly been spotted during night dives at Pulau Hantu so it was nice to see one during the daytime! Perhaps it was deceived by the low visibility!


Ceratosoma gracillium ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

There were big nudibranchs…


Eubranchus sp. on whip coral ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

… and little nudibranchs


Pteraeolidia ianthina and Reticulated puffer (Anthron reticularis) ©Khoo Minhui/Hantu Blog

And nudibranchs that hung out with big pufferfish. I wonder if this was the same puffer I videoed in 2006.

Even after a decade of diving at Pulau Hantu I’m still amazed at the kind of stuff we can find. So many nudibranchs!


Bornella stilifer ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

This Starry bornella was really posing for the camera – chest out, stomach in!

Later, I came across another Starry bornella that demonstrated how members of its genus do that swimming thing that they do!


Platax teira ©Khoo Minhui/Hantu Blog

As the tide receded, we encountered a school of batfish (or spadefish, as they are sometimes known). This really brought smiles to our faces. The fish schooled calmly alongside us and didn’t swim away as we hovered next to them, gazing in awe. There was also a haphazard school of Yellow-stripe scad (aka. kuning, or “Nasi lemak fish”). I suppose there were lots of yummy plankton bits gushing through the current.


Platax pinnatus ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

Some batfish were a bit less social… I wonder if this was the same batfish I videoed at the exact same spot on the reef five years ago. Either that, or there may be something about this spot that attracts solitary loungers.


Monodactylus argenteus ©Khoo Minhui/Hantu Blog

There was also a school of Silver moonies. We were really glad they showed up. Nudibranchs are nice, but there is a certain sense of awe and wonder when you swim within a school of fish!


Allied cowrie ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

There were commensal things on whips like this allied cowrie…


Tozeuma armatum ©Khoo Minhui/Hantu Blog

…and a blue and beautiful Saw-toothed shrimp.


Commensal fish on crinoid ©Khoo Minhui/Hantu Blog

Other commensals included this goby on a crinoid. How cool! Is it even a goby? I’m not sure. It’s got a really big mouth!


Striped fang blenny Meiacanthus grammistes ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

There were also blennies in bottles.


Tigertail seahorse (Hippocampus comes) ©Debby Ng/Hantu Blog

And as is the mission of every dive at Pulau Hantu, we found seahorses! (ok, we’ve also had nudibranch missions, anemone missions, seaweed missions, and goby missions. Oh there were also sand-diver mission and sponge missions. But even if seahorses aren’t a mission, we always kinda make them a mission anyway. Who doesn’t like seeing seahorses?)

Speaking of seahorses, check out these gorgeous organic cotton t-shirts featuring Tigertail seahorse! Available for sale online!

To see more photos from this dive, visit the Gallery!

One Response to “Batfish, Bornellas, and Blennies in Bottles!”

  1. Teoh Yew Aun said:

    Loved the nudis!!!

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