Feb 9, 2008

Soft side of the Spirit Isle

Escapees from New Year visitation once again embarked on a shore trip, this time to Pulau Hantu.
This little island (with trees) lies just opposite the industrial installations of Pulau Bukom and Pulau Busing. Yet its shores are ringed with living reefs.
The intrepid team heads straight across the vast lagoon as the tide drains it, to explore the reefs outside the sea walls of Hantu. In the background, Pulau Busing and reclamation works still ongoing.

We saw lots of reef life today which will no doubt be shared in living colour in other blogs. I thought I'd just focus on the softer animals that are so common on this shore.

The large and aptly named Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) is commonly seen on the shore.
Also large but with shorter tentacles is the Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).
There anemones usually harbour clown anemonefishes and anemone shrimps. Strangely, we didn't see many of these in the anemones today. Hmmm....

Other anemones commonly seen on this and our other Southern shores are Phymanthus sea anemones (Phymanthus sp.).They have branched tentacles, and come in a wide range of colours and patterns.

Everywhere among the coral rubble were small disk-shaped animals called corallimorphs (Order Corallimorphoria), a relative of hard corals.

Some have lots of tiny tentacles.Others only have bumps on the surface.
Some have really tiny bumps. A feature of this animal is that the mouth at the centre is often upturned in a pucker.
This corallimorph was covered in tiny brown patches, which might be acoel flatworms.
The reefs of Hantu are festooned with large leathery soft corals (Family Alcyoniidae).These are colonial animals. Each soft coral is made up of tiny polyps that share a leathery tissue.The polyps of some have a long body column topped with tiny white tentacles. When exposed out of water, the polyps can retract completely, leaving a smooth leathery surface with only tiny holes where the polyps were.

This is another kind of leathery soft coral.
Its polyps are shorter.This is another kind of soft coral with a more flowery or bushy appearance (Family Neptheidae).The polyps are quite different.
Sometimes mistaken for a sea anemone, this animal with white-tipped tentacles is actually a hard coral.It is Heliofungia actiniformis, a mushroom hard coral. With the tentacles extended, however, the hard skeleton is hidden from view.

As the tide came in and Sam and I headed out to another lagoon, we spotted inking! Tracking the inking, we nearly missed the source of the excitement.
It was a cuttlefish that looked just like the blob of ink that it released!

The team saw lots of other fabulous stuff. Nudibranchs, flatworms, feather stars, sea stars, corals and more. Read more about these below...

Here's other blog entries about the trip
Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog with Great-billed heron
July's discovery blog with the legend of Hantu
Samson's manta blog with razor fish
Siyang's urban forest blog with soldier crabs
Sijie's nature scouters blog with lots of crabs
Ron's tidechaser blog with slug stories
Sam's ramblings of a peculiar nature blog with giant clams and curious blenny behaviour

1 comment:

Monkey said...

wow the purple anemone is so cool! no wonder it's called magnificent