Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pulau Hantu on an Early Morning

It's another early morning with low spring tide again, and this time round, we were going to Pulau Hantu.

Our trip had quite a crabby start, and yes indeed, we saw quite a few species of crabs as we stepped into the sandy lagoon.

Sentinel Crab (Macrophthalmus sp.)
The first crab I spotted was a Sentinel Crab (Macrophthalmus sp.). It has long eyestalks which allow it to have a very good view of the surrounding. If any threat approaches, it will quickly burrow into the sand.

Horned Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma)
Yet another crab with log eyestalks was this Horned Ghost Crab (Ocypode ceratophthalma). It seemed to have lost one of its horns though...

Flower Crab (Portunus pelagicus)
This was a really huge Flower Crab (Portunus pelagicus), probably the biggest I have seen so far, including those I have seen in the market. The carapace alone was like more than 10cm wide.

Mosaic Crab (Lophozozymus pictor)
We have a few really brilliantly coloured crabs in Singapore, and the colours often serve as warning to predators that they are poisonous. Indeed, the Mosaic Crab (Lophozozymus pictor) above is said to be the most poisonous crab here. One single crab can kill 42,000 mice!

Prawns were plentiful in the sandy lagoon, and I saw quite a few of these with bluish tails which I do not know the ID.

Red Shrimp
As we left the sandy lagoon and headed towards the coral reef, a number of these red shrimps were spotted.

Giant Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea)
Right at the mouth of the lagoon, I found this Giant Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).

Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
Taking a closer look, I found a female Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)!

Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
There was a smaller male too!

Adhesive Sea Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum)
Other than the Giant Carpet Anemone, I also found an Adhesive Sea Anemone (Cryptodendrum adhaesivum).

Tube Anemone (Order Ceriantharia)
This transparent Tube Anemone (Order Ceriantharia) has another smaller ring of tentacles in the middle.

Lobed Leather Coral (Lobophytum sp.)
Pulau Hantu probably has one of the largest number of Lobed Leather Coral (Lobophytum sp.) our various shores.

Hard Coral
There were lots of hard corals too. The coral above is actually a huge colony with lots of little animals living in a calcium skeleton stuck to the substrate. It's just like our HDB flat with lots of occupants! When the corals are submerged underwater, you can see lots of little tentacles which belong to the coral animals.

Mole Mushroom Coral (Polyphyllia talpina)
Under the previous coral, this Mole Mushroom Coral (Polyphyllia talpina) is a free-living colony not attached to the ground!

Red Feather Star
We saw lots of Red Feather Stars while exploring the intertidal coral reef. These flower-like animals feed on plankton and tiny bits of organic particles in the water.

White Feather Star
A less commonly encountered one will be this white feather star.

White Sponge
My first time seeing a white-coloured sponge, possibly a Aka maldiviensis.

Black-margined Nudibranchs (Glossodoris atromarginata)
While the other had their fare share of slugs, I only saw 2 Black-margined Nudibranchs (Glossodoris atromarginata).

Flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.)
There were a number of this little Flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.) among the seaweed.

Blue-spotted Fantail Ray (Taeniura lymma)
This Blue-spotted Fantail Ray (Taeniura lymma) was rather cooperative and stayed at the same spot while we were happily snapping photos.

Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea)
As the tide was rising, we went back into the sandy lagoon and saw this Burrowing Giant Clam (Tridacna crocea). Seemed like it has grown quite a bit compared to the time I saw it a few years ago.

Pygmy Squid (Idiosepius sp.)
The Pygmy Squid (Idiosepius sp.) was found among some seagrass.

Pulau Bukom
As I turned back to look at the reef area, they were all covered under water and the sun was rising behind the heavily industrialised Pulau Bukom.

Yellow-lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina)
A nice surprise on my way back was this Yellow-lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina) which I have not seen for more than a year. This is a very venomous snake which usually feed on small fishes, but most of the time, it's not agressive if unprovoked.

Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus)
While the sun was sun high up in the sky, we still saw lots of stars! And I'm refering to the Sand-sifting Sea Stars (Archaster typicus) found in the sandy lagoon.

Seeing all these cute little sea stars all around us sure gave a nice closure to this wonderful trip!

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