Apr 6, 2007

Hantu Dawn

Early this morning, wildfilms and beachfleas headed out to Pulau Hantu. We had to take the long way around Pulau Bukom. The boatman explained the usual, shorter route was difficult to negotiate in the dark due to construction work in the area.
We landed on Hantu Kecil as the jetty at Hantu Besar seemed occupied by a large group of people who had put out fishing gear there.

We arrived just at the first blush of dawn.
The sunrise was great, although the subject was less so. But the petrochemical plants just across Pulau Hantu do look more enchanting the dark, all lit up like Christmas trees.
After spending nearly an hour over the sunrise, we headed out to the lagoon.

Dr Chua Ee Kiam (right) still actively documents the shores, although he has already finished his latest book about our shores: Singapore's Splendours: Life on the Edge. Dr Chua's book will be launched on 22 Apr (Sun) afternoon at the Botanic Gardens. Come for his talk to learn more about what's out there! More details on the wildsingapore events listing.
We were also thrilled that Debby of the Hantu Bloggers joined us today. She spotted a barn owl and other exciting wildlife. Budak also blogged about the spirit of the morning as well as a fiddler poem and thoughts about gong-gong.

Pulau Hantu is still very much alive, despite the onslaught of developments nearby.
Branching corals like Acropora (left) provide shelter for tiny animals, such as these tiny clams. Living Pocillopora coral (right) look fuzzy and have pale bluish polyps over a yellow base. Quite pretty if you take a closer look.

There was a little patch of mushroom corals. From those the size of a ten-cent coin, to large ones as big as saucers. These hard corals can move about when they become larger.

All kinds of other colourful hard corals littered the lagoon. Like this pretty lemon yellow one. The lagoon also had lots of lacy greenish to brownish seaweeds. I still don't know the names of these lifeforms.

Pulau Hantu has two magnificent mangrove trees, and also many patches of Tape seagrass. The sandy shores were thick with Common sea stars, many stacked in pairs (or threesomes), getting ready to mate no doubt.

As we packed up to leave, Andy, as usual, did the proper kind of clean up. He rescued a crab from a crab trap left on the shore.

The visibility at Pulau Hantu today was stunning! We picked up Alvin, Andy and Sijie from Hantu Besar, where they got side-tracked after washing the gear there. The clear water was teeming with all kinds of fishes!
Thanks to our very obliging and knowledgeable boatman for taking us hither and thither to all the jetties. He also shared lots of stories. Regularly punctuating his account with "if only you were here 5-6 years ago, I could have shown you...". He recalled fondly fabulous reefs at Seringat, Saking and many other reefs that have since been reclaimed.

Pulau Hantu is ringed on the northern side by the industrial installations on Pulau Bukom and Pulau Busing.
The reclamation works off Hantu seem mostly completed.
On the way home, we saw more construction going near Pulau Busing. Possibly an extension to their pier? The area was full of odd temporary buoys that made it difficult for small boats like the one we were on to negotiate. The boatman feared the route might eventually be closed.
We hope all these developments will not hurt the beautiful shores of Hantu.


mantabuster said...

Biggggg deal!

ria said...

Yes! It is indeed a big deal to have such fantastic marine life, despite the pressures on Pulau Hantu.

Imagine how much better the island's reefs could be if we managed and controlled the impacts on them!