I hope you got lots of time of your hands because this is going to be a long post! Even if you haven’t got much time, I promise that if you look through this post it’s going to be extremely worth your while. Better yet, it might convince you to drop us an email to book yourself a place and come diving with us. Thank you for your support all these years! More than just diving, we hope that the more is known and understood about this island and our reefs, the better our capacity to protect it. [above: asian bornella]
Following a successful radio interview on 938 LIVE Living Room at the start of the week to commemorate 5 years of awareness building for Singapore waters, every diver on board this Sunday’s dive boat was stoked to hit the waters when our boat pulled up along the reefs. Who wouldn’t be when you could see the reefs beneath you awaiting your visit!
It was hard to collect the attention of all the divers for the briefing because everyone was just looking into the waters and itching to get their gear on to hit the water ASAP. But with the help of a slightly louder voice and impromptu quizzes about the islands habitat, I managed to get their attention to tie together our reason for being at the island today, and the important milestone that this Anniversary dive marks for us.
As you can tell from the above pictures, the waters opened up for us today. It was unbelievable. Fantastic. A quick check with the regular guides and it was ascertained – this was the best experience of Pulau Hantu in 5 years. Although the experience didn’t come for free. The first dive was an intense one with strong currents pushing divers towards the reef. This made for a tricky situation because there was so much wonderful macro life that divers wanted to get close to to gawk at and take a photo of. When you’re transfixed by an interesting subject, diving becomes so much more easier. And since I was able to look at the group of our divers from afar, it was literally clear to see, that everyone was having a helluva time. [above: juvenile lizardfish]
The improved visibility meant that we were able to better explore the depth of Hantu. Which lead to some amazing finds. Such as this Porcelain crab on a Ball soft coral. There were 4 on this coral but they didn’t want to huddle together for a picture.
We encountered several cuttlefish during today’s dive. Small ones and big ones. Some divers saw a Giant reef cuttlefish laying its eggs. Placing them into a cluster slower and gently, one by one. I missed that however, but found another cluster of eggs at another site (above).
Divers with keen eyes managed to spot the less conspicuous creatures on the reef such as this allied cowrie on a seafan.
One of my joys today, was being able to photograph from afar, several species of gobies that are usually skittish and quick to wriggle into their burrows. [above: prawn-goby]
Apart from porcelain crabs, we also encountered pistol shrimp on the soft coral. Other hidden crustaceans divers spotted were Gorgonian shrimps and squat lobsters, the latter is a first record for the Hantu Blog! [for picture of Gorgonian shrimp and Squat lobster, see Chay Hoon’s Blog]
A curious finding was these 3 false scorpion in 3 different colour variations!
There were also heaps of critters on the seabed like seafans and seahorses. Filefish were particularly friendly today and divers managed to get close them them. Some of them even followed divers around for several minutes, as if trying to see what all the fuss was about.
A rare occasion – Divers got the opportunity to just kick back and appreciate the landscape of the reef from afar. To understand why we’re making such a big deal out of this, you have to realise that we’re more used to hovering just inches above the reef to get a real close look at the creatures crawling about on it. Several divers commented that it’s a good day to appreciate fish because you can observe them in their schools. We also managed to see several sand divers (see Chay Hoon’s Blog) today. Those fish are usually very skittish and dart for cover into the seabed before you get close enough for a picture. Today however, we were able to observe them hovering about in their little schools.
The night dive had lots to offer too! There were crabs mating – something I’ve never witnessed before!
Gorgeous nudibranches – Some divers have likened Pulau Hantu to “Singapore’s Lembeh Straits”. While a flattering comment, we prefer think it’s important to appreciate the uniqueness of our local reefs. The holistic experience of the variety of marine life that we encounter on our reefs along with its geography and other marine features and coastal environments is distinctive to Singapore. What we have left is special and irreplaceable. Diving locally is certainly growing in popularity, and this is telling from the dives we have that are fully booked months in advance. So now it’s more important than ever that visitors to the reef become proactive in not just promoting the reef for its marine life but to make known that our reefs are in a precarious situation. Quick and intense coastal development and climatic changes could very quickly deteriorate our precious marine enclave. So can a lack of awareness and proactivity.
To view all the pictures from our Fifth Anniversary Dive, visit the Hantu Blog Photo Gallery. More photos from the dive can be viewed at Chay Hoon’s Blog. [above: a pair of allied cowries on a sponge encrusted whip coral]