Enigmatic Crustaceans (and other spineless wonders)

Date June 22, 2013

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We revisit Pulau Hantu! As you can see, the visibility was much better this time around and we could actually see the reef. I think the sponges and black coral in the photo above appreciate the sunlight too!

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My buddy, Dr Tan Heok Hui, from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research, gets his gear together.

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A little Ceratosoma nudibranch.

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At least four seahorses were spotted today. Two of which were males with bloated bellies. I wonder if they had all come out to make themselves visible on the reef as they were preparing to mate? Otherwise seahorses would usually remain well hidden within the reef.

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There were several Elegant squat lobsters in crinoids. They are such a delight to encounter. And I realised while trying to take this photo, that while they may have small pincers, they certainly do inflict quite a mean pinch if they so desire!

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Other things hidden in crinoids included this little shrimp, which might actually be a parasite rather than a commensal. Notice that this crinoid does not have the tubular center and is flat in the middle.

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Some beautiful nudibranchs were spotted feeding on hydroids along the shallow areas of the reef.

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The Alicia anemone is believed to be more commonly found in sub-tidal areas in Singapore. I hear it can give a mean sting! So please don’t touch it!

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Back at base camp, I got to see this little porcelain crab hidden within this very unique hollow-stemmed gorgonian coral. If you look closely you can see it’s little pincer! This unusual gorgonian is usually found on the reef base or sea bed.

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At the sorting station, there was this black and white critter that was scuttling about its dish. It was highly active and hard to photograph. I wonder what it is. Some kind of shrimp?

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There were also small and beautiful flatworms. These critters were retrieved from bundles of macro algae harvested from the shore! Look at all the life that can be found amidst the algae!

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On the night dive at Kusu, another crustacean on a crinoid, but this one isn’t a squat lobster, it’s a crab! This crinoid likes to hide inside the reef and seldom comes out.

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As usual, plenty of crabs! Some were not afraid to go right out to the edge of the reef like this decorator crab perched on a branching hydroid. Perhaps it gets a sense of security from the bits of tiny hydroids its “planted” on its carapace.

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Other crabs like this hermit use a shell for some form of protection. I think this individual turned out to be a new record.

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This colourful Porcelain crab remained well hidden within a crevice within the reef. This was about as much as I got to see of it.

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On the way up from the night dive, I came across this sleeping rabbitfish.

To see more photos from this dive, check out the Hantu Blog Gallery!

Here are the Tweets I posted from today’s expedition:

Isn’t it amazing, that amidst all this, there are living coral reefs? #megamarine http://twitpic.com/cudmuk

1st dive at Kusu: A whooping 1.5m visibility! Wuhoo! Squad lobsters, mantis & tozeuma shrimp, murex snails, & unusual ascidians #megamarine

Saw a mantis shrimp on a Crinoid. Got into my vial, but shot out just before I put the lid on. *#!@ #MegaMarine

Three new shrimp records for Singapore today at Kusu! Wicked! #MegaMarine

Here’s where the findings from our dives arrived to be sorted, labelled, & photographed! #MegaMarine http://twitpic.com/cufl8x

Good visibility at Pulau Hantu! Went deep to 20m, big flounder and small sand divers. Bullocki, cinta, ceratosoma. #MegaMarine

A view of the central business district from St Johns Island! #MegaMarine http://twitpic.com/cufma7

A little tiny squid found by Mark during the dive at Pulau Hantu this morning! #megamarine http://twitpic.com/cunkac

Lotsa cool slugs and worms from Pulau Hantu! #megamarine http://twitpic.com/cunkew

Seahorses, filefish get sorted after dive at Pulau Hantu. We spotted 4 seahorses today, took just 2. #megamarine http://twitpic.com/cunlce

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