Blog Log, 30 August 2009

Date August 31, 2009

Honeyhead damsel juv.

Juvenile Honey-head damsel

I’d expected the water visibility to be poor since it’d been raining the entire week but surprisingly, visibility on the reef was comfortable at about 1.5-2m. The visibility improved during the 2nd dive when rain clouds cleared and some sunlight finally joined us for our dive!

Goniopora coral

Goniopora coral

I didn’t realise until someone asked today, that the Hantu Blog has been opening people up to the murky waters at Pulau Hantu for over 5 years. In these 5 years, the water’s around Hantu have gone through several changes, and so have the corals within which they shelter. Reefs have been lost, coastline has been reclaimed, channels have been dredged and temperatures hit new highs.

Pectinia coral recruit

Pectinia coral recruit

When divers bubbled down into the depths of Hantu this gray, cold and rainy morning, needless to say, everyone left a little miserable getting pelted by thick, relentless raindrops early in the morning, but it became such that entering the waters provided refuge from the rain! The sea was warmer than being on the boat, and you didn’t get raindrops in your eyes. Surface currents made the water a little choppy too so once underwater, divers had none of that to deal with.

Favid coral

Favid coral bio-luminescent polyps

We were pleased to have onboard the boat today, a new volunteer in training, Hazel Chew, and her buddy, Abigail Virjee from WWF Singapore’s Coral Triangle Partnerships Program. Sponge taxonomist Lim Swee Cheng was also on board to give divers some specks of information on the data of sponges from Singapore he’s collating.

Galaxea coral

Galaxea coral

Diver’s also saw turtles and seasnakes and as usual, a colourful assortment of sea slugs. Some divers however, decided to challenge themselves by looking through our books on corals whilst on the boat, then diving down into the reef to try and identify them! That’s a real big job! I trained for several months before I could tell some coral apart so it turned out to be real fun and exciting!

Rubble pipefish

Rubble/Guilded pipefish

What was even more exciting was that regular Hantu Blog diver, Chay Hoon, spotted a winged pipefish again! You can see it on her blog. I on the other hand, must’ve missed it, but I did get to spent a couple of minutes observing this little Rubble or Guilded pipefish. The old common name of this pipefish always throws me off. I understand we sometimes find them in and amongst coral rubble, so the new common name makes sense. But what’s this pipefish got to do with the Guilder? Is it even found in the Neatherlands? Beats me! I’d really like to see the Wingd pipefish again though…

Sea cumber

Sea cucumber on Blue spiky sponge

It’s always hard to decide which pictures to put into the Blog and which to leave on the gallery for viewers to go see on their own. So many of the things on the reef are so unique and special that it seems almost unfair to rate their worthiness of publishing! Like the Sea cucumber above… It’s probably not that fantastic a find. But they are still enjoyable to watch underwater and the way this one was curled up along the Blue spiky sponge.

Serpent coral

Serpent coral

Serpent corals get their name from their curvaceous appearance and because they can be found “slithering” along reef slopes. Descending from on top some of the huge colonies, such as this one, is a magical experience and an awesome sight!

Eight-banded butterflyfish

Eight-banded butterflyfish

Hantu’s reef have something for everybody. Whether you want to get awed by massive reef structures or mesmerised by the tiny critters like the Eight-banded butterflyfish above, if you’ve got the patience and are in for some fun in the muck, you won’t be disappointed!


Crinoid/Feather star

And if you chose to come back during the night, critter like this Feather star or Crinoid, would be up and about to entertain you too. Hantu truly is a precious resource for our natural heritage. What could be more suitable to complete an “Island Republic” than it’s very own, unique, living, breathing reef!

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