Saturday, February 9, 2008

Discovery @ Hantu on 08 Feb 2008

Forty Sixth Discovery Posting

The Legend of Pulau Hantu

Many years ago, there lived two great warriors who were bitter enemies. One day, they challenged each other to a duel in the sea near Singapore to determine the mightier of the two. Being equally matched, they fought for a long time, staining the sea with their blood.

Meanwhile, the fighting disturbed Jinn, the spirit of the sea. In a rage, Jinn created a whirpool which sucked the warriors’ men to the bottom of the sea. The undeterred warriors continued with their battle. Greatly annoyed, Jinn blinded one of the warriors with sea water. The other warrior quickly took advantage of the situation and fatally injured the blinded warrior. With his last breath, the blinded warrior thrusted his sword into his enemy. Both warriors thus perished in the battle.

The gods of the heavens were angry with Jinn for his interference in mortal affairs and decreed that the spirits of the two warriors should dwell on the surface of the sea. With great remorse, Jinn converted two perahus (boats) belonging to the warriors into two small islands where their spirits could reside. As one of the perahus was small smaller than the other, it became known as “Pulau Hantu Kechil” (meaning ‘Small Ghost Island’) while the bigger island was known as ‘Pulau Hantu Besar’ (meaning ‘Big Ghost Island’)

Adapted from “Myths and Legends of Singapore” by Mr. Pugalenti

The above story is an almost exact copy of the storyboard found on Hantu, an almost exact copy because the original one standing on Hantu now has a minor mistake. Notice the strikethrough i done on the word "small", that's the minor error. =P

Anyway, on the second day of the Chinese New Year, a batch of us visited Pulau Hantu. And this was my first time visiting this little island on the southern part of Singapore (picture below).
And on this island is one of the few places in Singapore where you can find the common sea star, archaster typicus (picture below). First 'discovery'!
Discovery Note:
1. I'm always fascinated by their tube feet as they are used for walking, handle food as well as breathing, talk about multi purpose!
2. Sea stars get stressed when out of water, as water to them is like blood to us, so please don’t take them out of the water for too long.
3. They are not as common as their name suggests. This is due to over-collection and habitat lost. So don't take them away from their homes when you see them. =)

Second 'discovery' looks like a Spiral Melongena. And it was laying eggs! A first sighting of this animal laying eggs for me (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. They seem to like to lay eggs on hard surfaces.
2. Each "petal" is one egg capsule.

The largest nudibranch in the world? Third 'discovery' is probably it, Dendrodoris tuberculosa (picture below).The underside of the Dendrodoris tuberculosa (picture below). Discovery Note:
1. It is said that this nudibranch can grow to a length of about 25cm long!
2. According to the sea slug forum, this is easily identified by the colour of the underside of the mantle, which has a background colour ranging from pale greenish or yellowish brown to dark brown with large round white spots. Check out the underside of the nudibranch (picture above)!

Fourth, fifth and sixth 'discoveries' are feather stars (pictures below). Another first time of seeing an alive feature star for me!

A red coloured feather star (picture below).
A pale yellowed coloured feather star (picture below).A black and white coloured feather star (picture below)!Discovery Note:
1. These are Echinoderms, Phylum Enchinodermata, like the sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins to name a few.
2. They belong to the class of Crinoidea and one of the most ancient and 'primitive' of ocean invertebrates, with a family tree rooted in almost 500 million years of history!

Of course, these were not all the things we saw on the island of Pulau Hantu.

Read and See more:
a) On KS's entry on his Wonderful Creation blog on a Nemo and other sightings!
b) On Wildfilm's blog on the many corals that is found on Hantu.
c) On ST's Manta's blog on a orange banded butterfly fish and other stuffs.
d) On SY's Urban Forest on a soldier crab and his compilation of photos.
e) On SJ's Nature Scouter on more corals and a number of crabs.
f) On RY's Tide Chaser for a description on the nudibranch, Gymnodoris rubropapulosa.

Finally, would like to thank Ria for this "hong bao" of organising this trip and all others for making this trip another enjoyable one!

And a Happy Chinese New Year to all discoverers!

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