The Blue Tempeh
Sunday, October 24, 2004
  REEF FRIENDS: Dive surveys at HANTU!
After a loooonnngg loonnggg ttiiimmee. Another so-called Reef Friends dive is finally done! The last one was in APRIL. Yes yes. Am guilty.

Anyway, this Reef Friends dive was organised by the Surin 2 participants. Surin 2? Well, it's a marine conservation expedition to Surin, Thailand at the end of this year to survey the coral reefs around Surin island. Tse-Lynn is their Scientific Officer.

Reef Friends is now officially fully funded by Nparks and the data be shared between Nparks and, supposedly, NUS. Well, you can see the results of the past Reef Friends survey HERE. At it's initial stages, it was funded by a PADI AWARE grant. And was seriously lacking moolah!

Anyway, today, TWO parts of the reefs around Pulau Hantu was surveyed. The HANTU PATCH REEF. And the HANTU FRINGING REEF. The fringing reef was surveyed in March 2003 before, so this is sort of a monitoring survey.

Before I get to the photos... HERE is the RESULTS from the survey dives! TAADAAAA....

Pulau Hantu, West, Fringing reef 2004



Pulau Hantu Patch reef 2004



Just to let you know how this is done and how we get the above data, in case you're curious. First, we get a group of people trained in Reef Check methodologies and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), Line Intercept Transect (LIT). Phew. That was LOONGG. I don't know why they have such long names. But it is so. And so it is.

In this case, it was the volunteers from SURIN 2 expedition group, along with Tse-Lynn, Jeffrey Low, Abby and me.
We were split into 2 boats this time round to survey 2 sites of Pulau Hantu's reefs. The fringing reef and the patch reef, as you all know already.

Then 4 by 20m lines are laid end to end (sort of) at the REEF CREST (here is at 3m). And another set of lines laid at the REEF SLOPE (normally 3-6m below the reef crest, in this case at 6m).

Then we do 4 kinds of surveys: Fish visual survey, invertebrate belt transect, benthic line survey and the general reef assessment survey.

There are target fishes and invertebrates that we look out for under the Reef Check Indo-Pacific lists and there are specific codes that we use to survey the benthic lifeforms using the Reef Check OR AIMS GCRMN codes. I have given the results in the codes given by Reef Check to simplify things. You can go to the SINGAPORE CORAL REEF website (see side LINKS) for the more detailed reef survey results with more categories.

This is so that we can make comparisons year after year on the general well-being of the reef. Of course there are such things as OBSERVER ERRORS that you have to take note of. And we do get some of these. Oh, here are the results from LAST YEAR'S (2003) survey at the Pulau Hantu Fringing Reef. The same site as this year.



As you can see... there has been a change in the life form cover. HARD CORAL COVER FOR BOTH DEPTHS HAS DROPPED!! Especially from the SHALLOW TRANSECTS! From ~60% down to ~30%!!! GARRHHH......................

OKAY, enough about results, here's some stuff we discovered during our dive. I STAYED IN THERE FOR FOUR FREAKING HOURS. NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I DIVED FOR SO LONG BEFORE. Of course I changed tank in between. BUT FOUR FREAKING HOURS. With the short break towards the end being the STORM WITH THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. We COULD ACTUALLY SEE THE LIGHTNING while still in the water...diving! Looked like someone was taking photographs with really powerful flashes. Scary mary. I do NOT...REPEAT DO NOT...recommend this. We quickly aborted dives, abandoned tapes and surfaced back to the boat ASAP.

The reason why the dive took so long was because we (Tse-Lynn and I) did the tape laying, LIT, general reef assessment AND reeling back the 9 x 20m tapes (5 tapes required for LIT, 4 for Reef Check). And did some training of a few Surin 2 participants after that. And OH, took photos. Hehe.

Reef Check survey in progress! Underwater slates from ECOUNLIMITED. Developed by Karenne, one of our old labbies.

What we record is the lifeforms along the tape. As such. Yes, AS SUCH.

And we saw other things too besides homo-sapiens underwater.

Hantu has loads of butterfly fishes.

GIANT GOBIES!!! Taken by Tse-Lynn, this giant goby is HUGE! Gobies are usually rather petite, by this one, as the name suggests, is GIANT.

and THIS! A PIPEFISH!! Tse-Lynn (TL) saw this too!



It's normal colour is rather bright with nice bright orange spots against a whitish background. With a BIG bright yellow spot near its tail. But now, it has changed its colour to make it LESS obvious. Reasoning would tell you that when it is asleep, it would want less predators (and divers like me) to notice it. Sort of a CAMOUFLAGE. I didn't know it was asleep and went SOOOO clooooseeee I could touch it! I took about 10 closeup shots before getting curious and woke it up. It swam hurriedly away, of course.

Oh, and PULAU HANTU is THE only place in Singapore where I have ever seen the long tentacled mushroom coral, or Heliofungia sp., for you nerds like me. Because of its long tentacles, divers usually mistake it for ANEMONES. Well, from the surface it DOES look like one. But on closer viewing, these mushroom corals have a HARD SKELETON, unlike anemones. Which are all soft. They are also FREE LIVING, and NOT attached to anything, unlike anemones. And once you are more familiar with them, their tentacles look different too...quite unique actually. IT'S THE CUTEST THING EVER!!!!! Like this one here. This is a BABY one. Mushroom coral babies start off ATTACHED to something via a stalk (rather like mushrooms), but when they grow up, they DETACH.

Long-tentacled mushroom coral, baby.

Hantu has also lots of these kind of bubble and anchor corals!

Anchor coral (Euphyllia sp.).

FIELDS OF THEM....But again. Here is another sad sad sad sight of CORAL BLEACHING.

Bleached bubble coral (Pleurogyra sp.).

Bleached railway track coral (Merulina sp.)

Well, I have an inkling why there is a drop in live hard coral cover by the way.....

CLOGGED PORES. Never complain about your blackheads again. This guys have got it WAAYYY worse, I tell you. Just look at them! LOOK!!

"Heelllpp mee... I am CHOKING!"

What are you going to do about this?

But you know what. Despite all this...this...sadness, ~33% LIVE hard coral cover is still O.K. It still falls under the "FAIR" category under the criteria developed by the ASEAN-Australia Living Coastal Resources Project. But I guess what I am saying is that if we don't start cherishing what we have left of our reefs now, it might not be as FAIR anymore.

It's not only the corals that suffer from such sedimentation. Other organisms suffer too, directly or indirectly. Especially organisms that filter feed. Which means they filter out food from the waters around them. If there is too much sediment particles in the water, they can choke and die. Imagine trying to eat a plate of rice with rocks mixed inside. Not too easy and quite dangerous, right?

Feather duster worm! It's a FILTER FEEDER.


Besides the two above, HYDROIDS, which are animals, are also FILTER FEEDERS. And if you want to know how sedimentation can effect filter feeders, here's a picture:

Hydroids choking to death.

I bet this is what pretty much happened to all those hydroids at KUSU too...Sad sad.

So GO, do something. Hug a hydroid. Hehe. OK OK kidding. Hydroids STING. Painful. But, I mean, really, it's time our reefs got a break.

By the way, if you wanna see more photos of HANTU is its full glory and more accounts of dives at Pulau Hantu, go visit Debby's Blog. MORE MORE MORE PHOTOS AND MORE MORE MORE WONDERFUL STUFF YOU CAN FIND AT HANTU!!!!!!! WOOHOO.

Saturday, October 23, 2004
  The day of TONY WU'S TALK
Exciting. No less. FANTASTIC VISUALS and GREAT STORIES. I'll let the pictures do the talking. Just as Tony's let his photos mesmerised those of us who were there. I was so mesmerised, I forgot to talk photos of him DURING the talk. Sigh.

Stories of swimming with WHALES (and photos to prove it), MANATEES, SEALS, DOLPHINS, SHARKS...Not to mention all the little critters in their bestest colours and behaviour. Fast swimming little fishies, crabs, shrimps, GOBIES (which probably made Zeehan's day). I wannt tooo diivvveee alll ovveerr thhheee wooorrlld toooo......sniiiiffffffff.....

The man, Tony Wu, sitting around before the talk started.

The audience, urm...hanging around before the talk started.

The Gillian, serving up the goodies for sale before the talk started.

The Jeff Low, close up before the talk started.

The Ria, close up before the talk started.

The almost FULL HOUSE (which became eventually FULL HOUSE), before the talk started.

And at 3.05 pm, the talk started....

Trying to arrange for the venue for this talk was HORRENDOUS for Dionne, BWV's public talks officer. As some of you might know, it was suppose to be held at Kinokuniya. But....they...urm...LAST MINUTE CANCELLED ON HER AFTER AGREEING THE SPACE AND TIME FOR THE TALK AGES IN ADVANCE!!!!!!!!! AND JUST BARELLY A WEEK BEFORE THE ACTUAL TALK DATE ITSELF!!!! What the...*tooooot* Sheesh. Anyway, if any of you have ever tried booking public places before, you'd know it's almost impossible to get a place with so little notice. Library after library. And the only place to turn to was N.U.S. Yes, a bit FAR and ULU, but it was the most available place. (although Jurong Lib did offer a place, VERY ENTHUSIASTICALLY, Dionne had to turn them down to avoid confusion as notices of venue change had been sent out).

Poor Dionne. Thank you for coming down all the way to NUS on a Saturday afternoon. And getting lost too nonetheless....


Ria's marvellous Souther Shores of Singapore posters being admired by the crowd again. least ONE person noticed the Reef Friend's poster. Well, pie charts and tables can't really fight with colourful photos...

Our trolley full of goodies for sale...including the expedition shirts for the upcoming East Timor marine expedition fund raising.

Our...urm...predators got hungrier this time round...


OHHH. Don't they start young. Our YOUNGEST audience yet.

And that's all folks! Till next time!.

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Don't wanna dive. Don't wanna dive. Don't wanna dive. Hope the boat's spoilt so we don't have to dive. So much work. Want to stay dry today...................................."

Well, that was how Priscila and I felt in the morning.

Work dives.


Plus Hammerhead is so sucky to dive off. Slippery ramp. Ladders so diver-with-heavy tank-and-weights-and-equipment unfriendly. Yuck yuck yuck. YUUUCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKARGGHHHH!!!!!

Swung over to Saint John's to pick up James (coral sex guru) and off we went to KUSU first. While I did my stuff, James went to check whether the Acropora coral colonies had EGGS in them. You know, whether there'll be the smaller orgy sessions this month (check past log on CORAL SEX). Hehe.

Apparently out of the 30 colonies he checked, only ONE had eggs. He just returned from an egg-finding tour around Indonesia with Andrew Baird (Coral sex maha-guru). VOYEURS! It's PORN on an INTERNATIONAL scale. HAH. O.K. This is just my jealousy talking.

Anyway, back to KUSU DIVE.

My mind was so not ready to dive. FINS almost overboard, TANK not turned on, jumped in without MASK, left QUADRAT and CAMERA on boat. Quite shameful really.

Vis was just slightly more than half a meter. Wonder why the drastic drop in visibility. Maybe they've restarted dredging around the area. Or maybe just the currents and tides. Hmm. Either way, LAST YEAR, we had like 4-5 meters vis around this time at Kusu. I was literally swearing when I could see the reef from the surface. "*&%^#@&^%%!!!!!!"

While making my way to my rubble quadrats, I saw this:


THIS NICE Montipora CORAL COLONY THAT I TOOK PHOTO OF JUST TWO MONTHS BACK HAS BLEACHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAHHHHH!!!!!!! SO DAMN SAD!!!!!!! Let me show you what it looked like in August:

Healthy Montipora colony. Photo taken on the 25th August 04.

How do I know it's the same colony you ask? 'Cos I've got genius memory. HAHAHA. Ok Ok kidding. I just pass this everytime I go to my quadrats. Sigh. The state of KUSU has been becoming quite sad lately. The reefs are becoming quite smothered by high sedimentation due to development and works around the neighbouring islands.

It used to be known as the HYDROID INFESTED site by the Marine Labbies. We'd normally cover ourselves properly with gloves and kneepads and cover any holes our wetsuits might have before diving here. But now...the hydroid colonies which we have grown quite...urm...fond...of...(in a way) are GONE!! It used to be..."Oooh...must watch out at this stretch there is a big hydroid colony here. Must swerve to the left a bit." But now, THERE'S NOTHING THERE!!!!!! It's SO SAD!!!!!!!! I feel like an idiot swerving to the left when there's nothing to avoid now. It's become a force of habit.

Anyway, Priscila helped me count the recruits on the artificial reefs while I did the rubble quadrats. Since we were on a tight schedule, did not take many photos...But still very sad. Sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad.


Well, visibility at Raffles Lighthouse was 2.5 meters. Give or take. But the skies were cloudy. Thunder. Storm clouds. Cold.

Dark...but good vis. Still NICE!

Nonetheless, it was a great dive! I dived buddy-less today. So the warding off of damsel fish was such a pain. It kept biting my hands, gloves, legs, hair... It was VERY hard to write and record and ward it off at the same time. I was so frustrated I tried hitting it with my quadrat. But my super slow-mo actions don't really come close to the darn damselfish's agility. I probably look like a slow loris trying to do salsa. Yes, a SLOW LORIS. Did I mention I was a geek?

OOOHHHhhhhHHH...then I saw THIS:

Small tiny polyclad flatworm on a tunicate (sea squirt).

The flatworm was barely 1 cm! It was soooo small and cute. Quite proud that I spotted it though. And the thing it's on is a tunicate! It is said that tunicates are our oldest relatives. If you go WAY back. Like...the start of chordate life. Yeaps. THAT. WAY BACK. We're related.

And on my rubble quadrat that normally are quite boring....(except for the cutesy juvenile corals like these:)

Small tiny baby coral. About 0.5 cm wide. Look at the pencil lead!

The above tiny baby coral...will eventually grow into...:

THIS! A Pectinia juvenile coral. Still a baby though. Only 2 cm wide.

I don't have a photo of a large Pectinia colony. But will make sure I put it up next time if I take one.


ANEMONE EATING A JELLYFISH...or what is left of it anyway!

"YUMMY YUM YUM...MMmm...I'm eating a jellyfish through my mouth/anus...depends on which direction the food is going. Since I only have one opening. OH SHUCKS! Remind me again. Was I EATING this?? Or was I CRAPPING it?!"

The jellyfish has probably been attacked previously by fishes and what is left floats to the reef and onto the anemone...FOOD.

And on my final quadrat...I witnessed something...urm...interesting. Please be warned that scenes below may be a bit graphic. Look at own risk. Well. It's Slug for "one-night stand". It's the ONE MINUTE stand. Beware of graphic representations.

"Ooohh Baby...RRrrr..."

Boy/Girl nudi: "smooch smooch"
Girl/Boy nudi: "kiss kiss"

Boy/Girl nudi: "Ooooh that's good...don't stop."
Girl/Boy nudi: "Aaaah....I ain't stopping, baby..."

Boy/Girl nudi: "moan"
Girl/Boy nudi: "groan"

Boy/Girl nudi: "Hope that was as good for you as it was for me! Hope we get kids."
Girl/Boy nudi: "This place could surely use more of us...!"

Boy/Girl nudi: "O.K. babes. Ciao. Hope that was as good for you as it was for me."
Girl/Boy nudi: "Take care"

And they part. After a one-minute stand. No strings attached......

Further and further they go. Where? Who knows. To lay eggs? To feed at some hydroid colonies? Noone knows. And I ain't got enough air to follow them all day, man. BUT!!! OH WAIT...Something's happening!!

Boy/Girl nudi turns around: "NO! Don't LEAVE ME! I don't want this to end!!! I think I'm in LOVE! I keep seeing these flashes of LIGHT when we were making out!"
Girl/Boy nudi: "Urm...sorry dude/dudette...this has always been a one-minute stand. And I think those flashes of light was coming from that Darth Vader-like thing over there"

Boy/Girl nudi: "NOOOO...Don't LEAVE ME!!!"

Girl/Boy nudi: "Urm...I think I'll run away now..."
(Pteraeolidia ianthina)

---------THE END----------

Well... how their love story turned out I don't know. I had 500psi left and hardly anymore memory on my camera. So up I went...unwillingly...Whatever it is, I hope they're both fine...and having healthy eggs and babies...Didn't know nudibranchs were so raunchy! Well...okay...they CAN be even naughtier. They have ORGIES too. Nudibranchs lined up front to back and back to front, since they can be BOTH MALE and FEMALE at the SAME TIME. Foooh. Getting some and giving some at the SAME TIME.

If you think this is unbelievable?! Wait till you hear the "penis-fencing" behaviour of the polyclad flatworms! Yeah. PENIS-FENCING. Think Freud would be turning gleefully in his grave. It's a genu-ine word to describe the flatworm behaviour. I ain't kidding you, mah friend. Go and CHECK. IT. OUT.

Nudibranchs are HAEMOPHRODITES by the way. They can be both female and male...AT THE SAME TIME! Or...take turns...Cool eh...Huahaha.

Anyway, enough about them...I surfaced. And the best part was that in the heat of all that was happening...I FORGOT TO SURVEY ONE MORE ARTIFICIAL REEF UNIT!!! So down I went again...

And as I was approaching the unit...These TWO BIG THINGS just swam past me! I almost got a heart attack! Since they were so CLOSE!!! Right in front of me!!!!!

BATFISHES!!!!! They saw me and hid under a big boulder coral...

AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! What a great way to end the dive. Well...all in all, it didn't turn out THAT BAD to dive today after all. Heh. Should thank my lucky stars that there's still so many exciting things happening in Singapore waters. If not, I would really be dreading it.........Let's try to keep it that way OK. If you're with me, say AYE!

A Marine Conservation Journal of Events and Sentiments.

Blue Water Volunteers

09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 /
  • Current Posts

  • In search of Bluey...
  • Singapore Sightings! DOLPHINS & DUGONGS!
  • Diving in Singapore: A tribute part II
  • A tribute to Singapore's coral reefs. PART 1.
  • RF Xplore! explores Pulau Hantu...
  • Forty winks and more!
  • Island hopping: Saint John's, Lazarus & Semakau!
  • Saint John's ROCKS!: Nudibranch dive
  • Diving diving diving!

    This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Spawning 2005. Make your own badge here.
    Powered by Blogger

  • Wild Singapore
    great site with great photos & everything

  • Coral Reefs of Singapore
    comprehensive, informative & essential

  • The Hantu Blog
    dives, pulau hantu and more!
  • Habitat News
    news on Singapore's nature and much much more

  • Want to EMAIL me?!
    Reach me at