Apr 2, 2010

Pulau Hantu

Back after a million years! Think I was last here in Sec 3 or 4 with Girl Guides.. seems like an age ago.. All I remember was there being millipeded ++ and i stampeded a few tents by catching a handfull and tossing them in among the occupents:) Well here I am again but thankfully (especially for the millipedes) i've grown out of that phase (I think)

Coin Algae (Halimeda)

One example of the many different guises of seaweeds. Like it's name suggests leaves are small and round. Hard also thanks to the calcium deposits in the leaves (Notice that some of them have a whitish rim? Thats the calcium. Apparently they can concentrate their chlorophyll in the center of the leaf to maximise sun exposure) Ha I wonder if these are edible.. I'm guessing that they can almost be used like a calcium supplement then. What they are in real life is a calcium concentrator. When the leaves die the calcium skeleton remains. The new leaves grow on top of the old skeletons. In the Great barrier Reef these seaweeds form mounds up to 10 m high and many 10s of meters across (This occur in deep reef waters not the shallow lagoon where I found them) Would be intersting to see it though apparently they are like huge sand dunes with a thin crust of green that can even be seen from air. Their skeletons contribute to the sand on the reef bes and the living leaves are fuel for a multitude of species. Some fish even excavate a hideout in these "concrete Jungles" Prob their version of our HDB

Black Lipped conch

Found this guy on the sandy floor of the lagoon. Top shell was so well camouflaged that I almost couldn't recognise it till i flipped it over. Very appropriately named once you see the black lip stick. This fellow wasn't up to performing for us but he can be quite active when he wants to. He has one long foot ( the operculum) that he uses yo hop around on the sand. Used to be abundent (like so many other things in Spore unfortunately) in the past but has since dwindled significantly along with it's habitat. Also a target of shell collectors... Sometimes it just doesn't pay to look too good..

Finally after reading so much about it! A Moon Snail Collar. I remember that in my Secondary School litrature text there was a picture of Queen Elizabeth wearing this huge frothy fat white lace creation round her throat. This moon snail nursery really looks like a muddier version of that especially with it's wavy sides and opening on top.

What it is actually is an example of a mother's love. Ma moon snail mixes mucus with sand forming a sort of cement cradle within which she places her young. Each collar may contain thousands of living moon snail babies. After hatching the collar, having served it's purpose, slowly disintegrates.

A shot of Hantu's shores interestingly just across is Bukom in it's sterile cemented finery. Strange that so much life can exist and survive even with all our building, sea traffic, polluted silty waters..

Interestingly enough I was told by another guide that when some people tried to transport some corals back from our waters to grow in a research lab in nice clean water they promptly upped and died. There was no major change in the water except... cleanliness? Umbrellas placed over the tank led to flurishing healthy growth. Apparently these corals were so used to our silty waters that the sudden exposure to sunlight overwhelmed them. Moral of the story - wow we don't have to bother cleaning up our waters? Not at all to me it's pretty upsetting to think of me and mine as an environmental pressure that others have to struggle to adapt to. And though they have addapted to silty water I doubt these hardy corals can adapt to dynamite especially if the plans to widen our shipping routes go through..

Squid eggs??

Not sure who was responsible for this transparent cluster but was told that the above named cephalopod was the culprit. With seperate genders they practise internal fertilization the male inserts his packet of sperm into the female with a modified arm. The female in turn uses this to fertilise her eggs which are laid in clusters usually anchored to some substrate. The eggs hatch into fully formed mature adult who will drift with the tide and with time and luck mature to complete the cycle their parent's started.

Old man of the Sea!!

Family member of the sotong mentioned above:) Polynesians call him the Old man of the sea and really with his brooding hunched over profile he does look like a wizened old fisherman. In addition he is considered one of the most intelligent invertebrates and can in previous studies be taught how to open containers or run mazes or open jam jars.
Soft bodies allow them to squeeze through the smallest cracks and they are able to change the colour of their skin to mimic their surroundings and of course their most famous skill is reflected in their other name the ink fish. when they are threatened they are capable of expelling a cloud of ink to confuse their predators.
Besides the usual heart, it has two additional hearts, each pumping extra blood through the gills. And guess what their brain is located OUTSIDE their body. Imagine all their arms spread-eagled right in the center on the underside is the hard beak and just above it a fleshy lump - the brain! Amazing that such a vital structure is left so exposed but then again any ocean dweller who makes it within sight of the brain is usually on it's way to becomming a snack. Fisherman however use this to paralyse their prey. They literally place the octopus over their face as the octopus unflolds's it's tentacles to attak them with it's beak they reveal their brain.. The fisherman then snaps it off effectively paralysing the octopus.. At the end of the day think I like my grey matter right where it is under a nice thick vault of bone..

Searching for prey mostly at night, they use their eight long arms to feel into crevices for crabs, prawns, snails, clams. The highly flexible arms have strong suckers to grip objects so that the octopus can slowly 'creep' over surfaces. Jet propulsion can also be employed when they are in a bigger hurry squirting a jet of water out of a funnel to zoom off in the opposite direction.
Equipted with a Hard beak and a radula (ribbon of teeth), they don't chew their food. Digestive juices are injected into the prey which soften the tissues. Some octopuses can drill a hole through a snail’s shell to get at it. Others crush shells and crack crabs with their hard beaks

Some of my all time favourites - the nudibranchs or sea slugs. Name means "naked gills" derived from the branchial plumes on their backs with which they "breathe" Many different varieties of a bewildering palate of colours. Some are sand/mud coloures for camouflage while others openly advertise their presence which in the wild often means "go-ahead-take-me-on-and-you'll-be-sorry" Best obey them.. many of these slugs are partial to sponges from which they absorb their stinging cells and express them on their own body not the best mouthfull you can take.
All the same some varieties can be eaten. People in Alaska and Russia are reported to boil and eat them.. Texture has been compare to eating an eraser

Polkadot AKA Funeral Nudibranch

Phyllid nudubranch

Carpet Anemone shrivelling up in low tide - To prevent excessive waterloss it also coats itself with a coat of mucus.


Attractive little grazer. This snail feeds on algae/lichen growing on the surface of rocks scraping them off with their radula (tongue- it's covered by). Thick and heavy shelled with groves protect them from a hungry crab's pincers but not from the weight of a 60 Kg human so watch where you step on the rocks! Thick sturdy door (operculum) seals the nerite's exit efficently andd are so thick ans strong that some species are collected just for their operculum to make buttons. Other species can be eaten raw or toasted.

Onch Slugs

Essentially snails without shells (Phyllum mollusca and Class Gastropoda) Instead of shells thick skins reduce water loss and offer them protection in the form of camouflage. Best of both worlds in many ways. They breath both through gills and modified lungs and they are hermaphrodites each slug has both male and female reproductive organs.

Some Idyllic scenes of Hantu before we left. A walkway through the Callophylum (beautiful leaves) grove