Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fantastic Four @ Pulau Hantu.....

The Hantu Bloggers celebrates its Fourth Anniversary today. And what's better to make this Anniversary a GREAT one, other than to have Very Very GOOD Vis (abt 5m even at the seabed!) and FANTASTIC creatures!!!

So here are the highlights of the four FANTASTIC Dives;

First Dive : West Fringing Reef.
This dive was spent mostly at the seabed. As my volunteer dive guide(HP), buddy(JH) and I are SLUG freaks, we were looking high and low for them. And am glad to say, quite a few were spotted.

A Tambja sp.

A Chromodoris sp.

This one looks like a Chromodoris striatella.

A Hypselodoris infucata.

A Gymnodoris sp and a Phyllidia sp.

And of course at the seabed, one will get to see Icon Seastar!

From Big Big one to Small Small one.

Second Dive : South Jetty
This was the BEST, the BUSIEST and LONGEST dive of the day. Why????

It was because the creatures just kept being spotted by the guides and most of them/actions were my FIRST sightings!!! Basically, you get to hear tank banging every few minutes (indicating that things have been spotted). So much so, we were kept busy going from one spot to another to see/take pics of the creatures…..haha. And thus, I stayed down as long as my air permits.

This nudibranch was a first sighting for me. Think it is a Janolus sp. Its was moving pretty fast and in a way like a fat juicy caterpillar moves. Very CUTEEE!!!

The nudibranch, Chromodoris fidelis are in season I think. As we kept seeing them one after another in close proximity.

Here's a Hypselodoris bullockii bigger than the one that I had seen last year. It's a beautiful nudibranch with such nice colour.

We also got to see a species of the Gymnodoris nudibranch in actions. All FIRST sightings for me too! So here's what two Gymnodoris rubropapulosa did;

One was laying egg masses.....well the other was.....

eating another nudibranch!!! In this case, a Chromodoris lineolata. WOW!!! Finally got to see the feeding action!!! WOW!!!

Besides the nudibranch, there were also Flatworms!

and a Tigertail Seahorse

And now the creature that made my day....

FROGFISH!!! Spotted by Jimmy?!?!

I have seen them at intertidal (in fact, just two days ago at Semakau) but it was FIRST time seeing it UNDERWATER in OUR Reefs! FINALLY!!! lol

Sorry, but I have to do it again. Sooooo CUTEEEEEE!!!

Third Dive : North Jetty
We went to the Sea whips garden that I have wanted to explore again ever since last year's Slug fest trip. And this time round, we were able to do so due to the good vis again! lol

We were wandering around looking at the Sea whips for commensals. Just then, I heard HP’s tank banging. I swam across and he pointed to a white long stalky thing(about 30cm) in front of him that looks like this;

At that time, I was wondering why he wanted me to see a Sea whip when they are everywhere!?!?

Then it hit me.....the white long stalky thing is NOT a Sea whip! a white Pipefish!!! Gee....It just looked like a white Sea whip! Goosh.....isn’t it amazing!!!

Here’s a close up of its head;

And guess what? Not far from the first one, there was another! And this one, the belly was swollen! Wow! A Papa! Could the first one be the Mama???

A Pufferfish.

Hypselodoris bullockii( In different color and top one looks like there's a deform at the bottom of its gills)

And here's again another Two FIRST sighting nudibranch. One was spotted by HP on a Sea fan.

It's a Tritonia bollandi

and the other was a Chromodoris sp.

Fourth Dive : West Fringing Reef (Night Dive)
As the Sun sets, we rigged up and went for our Night dive. Due to the good vis, we were able to go to about 7m compared to last year at 3-4m.

The very first creature spotted was this Cuttlefish.

And after we left this one, another was spotted. Both were about the same size.

Flatworm. Quite a number of them were out and about.

One thing you won’t miss seeing on a night dive is crab! They were everywhere out of their hiding crevices.

And the last shot that I took before my batteries went flat. It’s a False Scorpionfish.

Other creatures saw were Arrowhead Crabs, Ocellate Pipefish, Ceratosoma nudibranch (Ceratosoma gracillimum), Hypselodoris nudibranch (Hypselodoris emma) and of course, lots of Featherstars out and about. The rest of the divers also saw other fantastic stuffs like Seahorse and Octopus!

Pulau Hantu surprised us ONCE AGAIN!!!

Thanks to Debby for organising this trip, HP for guiding, JH for buddy, Justin for lending me his pressure gauge(Mine leaked after the first dive) and all the WONDERFUL Spotters for the FANTASTIC creatures!!! :o)

Looking forward to the Fifth Anniversary!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday @ Pulau Semakau.....

Today I joined a group of students from Duke University led by Dr Dan and my fellow Semakau guides to explore the intertidal at Pulau Semakau.

After reaching the intertidal, the first thing that caught our attention was a driftnet. Driftnet is very destructive to marine life and here we have a crab entangled in the net.

After setting a few crabs free, we made our way to the reef flat. And here's some of the creatures that we saw;

This is a Star Anemone. This animal is very shy and usually disappears into the sand when it detected shadow or movement.

We came across two of this Sea Cucumber. Checked up "A Guide To Sea Stars And Other Echinoderms of Singapore", this could be a new species under genus Actinopyga. I love its colour!

And here's a clip showing how this Sea Cucumber feeds;

It uses its feeding tentacles to mop up the detritus that is in the sand. I bet it's tentacles-licking-good! Yum Yum!

Found this Tigertail Seahorse among the Tape Seagrass.

After taking pics of the Seahorse, I moved on to catch up with the rests. Just then, I heard one of Dr Dan's student says "Wow, I just saw a fish being eaten by another fish! I think is a Stonefish!"

And I was like "Wow, a Stonefish! I have never seen a Stonefish at Semakau and the student saw it feeding?!?! Wow, isn't it cool?" So I hurried over to her spot and I saw something swimming's not the venomous Stonefish but.....this;

It's a Frogfish! And its bulging stomach shows that it could have eaten quite a big fish.

I like the Frogfish because they are Oh-So-Cuteeeee! Especially its paw-like fins! CUTEEEE!

Here's a clip of the Frogfish;

ST found a really really tiny about the size of half a rice grain orangy-red snail. I have only seen them during diving. No idea of its ID though.

Saw the usual nudibranch too.

The Many-Lined Chromodoris(Chromodoris lineolata) and Black-Margined Glossodoris(Glossodoris atromarginata).

Also, other creatures like the Upside-down Jellyfish, a juvenile Knobbly Seastar and a Flatworm;

It was a Great trip and what's better than to end it with a beautiful Sunset at Semakau.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Birthday Spent At The Raffles Museum.....

It's the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research's Open House today. So I joined a bunch of volunteers from TeamSeagrass, Naked Hermit Crabs and Ubin to the Museum to learn more about our biodiversity and natural heritage.

We have Sijie (a fellow Seagrasser and the naked ones) to guide us around. He did a marvellous tour of the Museum and told us interesting stories about the specimens! Thank you, Sijie (and thanks for the special tour too)! :o)

And here's some of the specimens that you get to see when you visit the Museum;