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Pierre-Yves Cousteau dives in Singapore 22 Apr 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau is the youngest son of the world-famous explorer Jacques Cousteau and President of Cousteau Divers, which aims to unite “divers who are concerned about the marine environment …making each diver an agent of the study and conservation of the aquatic realm”.

I had the chance to meet Pierre for an inter-tidal reef walk, and also on a dive to Sisters and Hantu on 20 April 2011. It was a chance of a life-time to be part of the mystique of the Cousteau legacy; the man who, through his documentaries, fueled the dreams of this small town boy of becoming a marine biologist.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau presenting the mission and aims of the Cousteau Divers

Along with the Singapore Environment Council, the main hosts of the trip, and some reporters from SPH, an early morning walk at “Big” Sisters lagoon was a good photographic opportunity. Without getting ourselves entirely wet, we saw giant clams (well, just one), two seahorses, a spider conch, carpet anemones (one with a “Nemo” anemonefish), and many different types of corals and seaweeds. All this life, with the Singapore urban skyline in the horizon.

Ria leads the charge in the early morning reef walk at “Big” Sisters lagoon.

A giant clam (Tridacna squammosa), staked at monitored by “Giant Clam Girl” Mei Lin

Two seahorses (probably Tigertails, Hippocampus comes) trying to look like sponges!

Later, we went on a dive at the south side of Sisters. Unfortunately the waters were not very clear that day, and the corals at the site did not look like they did well after the recent bleaching event. At the deeper reef slope, dark as it was, we saw lots of featherstars clinging onto sea whips and sea fans. A somewhat disappointing “virgin” dive in Asia for Pierre, I suspect.

Featherstars, like this one, adorned the sea whips and sea fans at the deeper reef slope.

An ocellate phyllidia (Phyllidia ocellata), a common nudibranch on Singapore reefs.

We made our way to Hantu after that, and debated if we should brave the heavy downpour that blanked out everything beyond 100m of the boat to dive at Hantu. As any “compressed air junkie” would, we waited out the rain and went for what turned out to be a better dive at the south side of Hantu. The normally dense Sargassum had died back, revealing huge coral colonies. While the visibility was not that great, a baby shark (probably a nurse shark) was seen, and numerous mushroom corals the size of large dinner plates (the largest I’ve seen in Singapore). A much better second dive, well worth waiting out the rain for.

Two mating Hypsolodoris bullocki!

Later, on the way back to Singapore, Pierre shared his thoughts with me, saying that he saw the potential beauty of Singapore reefs, that was veiled by the sediment that was present. How to deal with this sediment is something that is a worldwide problem (see this FAO report). Hopefully, technological advances in the future would enable us to mitigate these effects.

An interesting day out, and one that I will remember for a long time!

Related posts:
Sharing our shores with Pierre-Yves Cousteau

Son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau dives Singapore waters



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