Friday, February 08, 2008

Hantu on CNY Day 2

Went to Pulau Hantu with a few shore volunteers today. Since a few of us explored the island together and basically we saw roughly the same things, I shall be lazy for once and keep the text to a minimum :P

When we arrived on the island, we saw several Malay families camping there.

Instead of the usual big lagoon, we decided to start with one of the less explored smaller lagoon while the tide still wasn't at its lowest. One of the first animal which we saw was this common sea star (Archaster typicus). There were lots of them in the various lagoons.

Found 5 of these polka-dot nudibranch (Jorunna funebris) today.

At one end of the middle lagoon were patches of green algae with lots of creeper shells.

There were lots of soft corals on Pulau Hantu! This leathery soft coral has branching structures.

This, however, is a hard branching coral, probably a Montipora sp.

While this coral has long and soft tentacles, it is actually a hard coral with a hard skeleton. Had initially thought that this was a sunflower mushroom coral until I noticed that the tentacles were not very nicely arranged. Taking a closer look at the skeleton then I realised that it's not a single free-living coral, but a colony attached to the substrate, most probably a Euphyllia sp.

There were lots of fiddler crabs on the sand bar by the side of the lagoon. The above is probably an orange fiddler crab (Uca Vocans).

There were lots of gigantic carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) and magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica). On some of the gigantic carpet anemone, we found ocellaris clownfishes!

As it got darker, several flatworms (Acanthozoon sp.) started appearing, sliding over the sand.

While this one looks like the flatworm above, it is actually a rather flat nudibranch called a bohol nudibranch (Discodoris boholiensis).

We found several pretty feather stars (Class Crinoidea) today, including 2 angbao red ones!

Here's another one in yellow...

...and another really pretty one in brown and white.

Was really excited to find this particular nudibranch, a Dendrodoris tuberculosa. This is supposed to be one of the biggest nudibranchs around!

This nudibranch is characterised by white spots on its underside.

We also found a few orange-spotted nudibranch (Gymnodoris rubropapulosa). Both of them in the above picture appeared like they just had dinner from the look of their stomachs. In fact, you can see in the picture that there're some white translucent stuff stuck to the side of the nudibranch in front, which made me suspect that it probably had both sex and dinner at the same time! Like all nudibranchs, Gymnodoris nudibranchs have both male and female reproductive organs, and they often fertilise each other as they mate. However, Gymnodoris nudibranchs happened to feed on slugs, including other nudibranchs of the same species! And thus as they mate, they will try to swallow each other as well. That means the white translucent stuff could possibly be the leftovers of the reproductive organs of its previous sex partner!

Found several species of mushroom corals at the reef edge, including the polyphylla sp. above.

We also found this synaptid sea cucumber.

This transparent blob on the sand is actually a jellyfish! We could see tiny tentacles when we looked closely. When we put it back into the water, it started pulsating, but was totally transparent and it's just impossible to take a clear photo of it.

Eventually, tide started rising, and we had to go back. Must say it was yet another fulfilling trip! Thanks Ria for organising it :)

Check out these other blogs on the same trip:

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