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
SURVEY RESULTS FROM 24th OCT 2004 - SHALLOW TRANSECTS (3m)
SURVEY RESULTS FROM 24th OCT 2004 - DEEP TRANSECTS (6m)
Pulau Hantu Patch reef 2004
-------COME BACK HERE LATER FOR RESULTS FROM PATCH REEF SHALLOW TRANSECTS!!!!!!-------
SURVEY RESULTS FROM 24th OCT 2004 - DEEP TRANSECTS (6m)
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.
SURVEY RESULTS FROM 9th MAR 2003 - SHALLOW TRANSECTS (3m)
SURVEY RESULTS FROM 9th MAR 2003 - DEEP TRANSECTS (6m)
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!
BUT I SAW THIS!!!!!!!
A SLEEPING RABBITFISH!!
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.
THE PRETTY PRETTY WORM!!!! It's a FILTER FEEDER TOO!
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.