jump to navigation

National Geographic Singapore Store – Exhibit and Talks 9 Nov 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Land-lubber stories.
add a comment

I guess it’s never too early to start marketing a talk, especially one that you are presenting! 😀

Debby from Hantu Bloggers wrote one day to say she was in discussion with the Nat Geo Store about a marine exhibit, and several email exchanges later, Nat Geo set up the exhibition.

Hand-in-hand with the exhibition are four talks, the first on Nov 19th, on coral reefs in Singapore, then on the 26th, Debby will be speaking on her favourite island, Pulau Hantu.

Two other talks, not listed on their website yet, are by Ria (Dec 3) and Siti (Dec 10) on Singapore’s wild shores and seagrass, respectively.

This is a chance for you to find out more about our shores and marine environment, and visit the fantastic Nat Geo Store.

See you there!


Mega-fauna at Hantu 9 Nov 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
add a comment

Hantu may be the most frequently dived spot in Singapore, but it still holds many surprises, including large Hawksbill Turtles ….

…. half-meter long pufferfish ….

… and the mythical meter-long batfish!

Passing of Clive Briffett 1 Nov 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Land-lubber stories.
add a comment

Otterman reported that Clive Briffett passed away last Saturday.

I’ve never met the man, but his name is familiar. He worked in Singapore between the 80s and the 90s, was an active member of NSS and wrote many articles about conservation in Singapore:

Environmental assessment in Singapore: an enigma wrapped up in a mystery!

How Well Are Human and Wildlife Sharing ‘Green’ Corridors?

The Birds of Singapore

A guide to the common birds of Singapore

Funny post on common names (for plants and animals) 21 Oct 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Land-lubber stories.
add a comment

This post is hilarious! 😛

Story of Pulau Blakang Mati 30 Sep 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Land-lubber stories.
add a comment

Came across Budak’s interesting writeup of Pulau Blakang Mati, which is now the touristy Sentosa.


Rabbitfishes of Singapore 16 Sep 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
add a comment

What kinds of rabbitfish do we have in Singapore? There are five species that I know of:

1. Siganus canaliculatus (White-spotted Spinefoot), a common species that seems to be seasonal; particularly abundant around year’s end. Found in the waters around Ubin and, in this case, at Cyrene Reef flat.

2. Siganus guttatus (Gold-lined Spinefoot) , a common reef species. I have photos from my old artificial site, but none digital, yet.

3. Siganus javus (Streaked Spinefoot), another common reef species, although it has been caught off Ubin before.

4. Signaus virgatus (Bar-head Spinefoot), a rare species, so far only seen around Pulau Satumu.
Taken at Pulau Satumu in Dec 2010.

5. Siganus vulpinus (Fox-face Rabbitfish), a very rare species. Seen once from the jetty at Pulau Satumu, on a day with very clear water. No image.

My first local sighting of a frogfish! 15 Sep 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
add a comment

The post headliner says it all 😀

I’d only heard of frogfishes in Singapore, never having the luck to see one for myself. Thanks to Chay Hoon, who found this little fellow in a fish trap at Semakau, I now have an image of it as well!

This could be a Painted Frogfish (Antennarius pictus), on account of it’s slightly less warty skin (compared to a similar looking fellow, the Warty Frogfish, Antennarius maculatus).


What makes a dive special? 30 Aug 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
add a comment

How do you rate a dive? I’ve always been of the opinion that “every dive is a good dive”, but what is “good”?

In this case, on my umpteenth trip to Hantu (28 Aug 2011), “good” was defined by the company, the 4m visibility and the encounters underwater:

1. The hugest batfish I’ve ever seen – I’m convinced it is an Orbicular Batfish (Platax orbicularis), although it could also be the Hump-headed Batfish (Platax batavianus), since both of them look very similar. You can gauge the size of the fish from the photographer (Eunice) behind it.


What’s even more surprising, is the remora that is swimming around its host – it was actually cleaning it as well! This cleaning behaviour has been reported for dolphins and whales, but this was the first time I saw it for a batfish.


2. As mentioned by others on the trip, Bonellas were out in force – and wherever a large number of nudibranchs are seen, some of them will be caught procreating! A little bit of “fencing” as the penises jockey for position ….


… before the participants settle down.


Other wild things were witness to the almost non-stop “snap snap snap” of our cameras:

3. A cuttlefish

4. An eel blenny (Congrogadus subducens)

5. A tiny goby and an extra large pistol shrimp (I am told that this pairing of large shrimp and small goby is unusual, since there is typically competition for larger shrimps by larger gobies)

6. A squat lobster in a featherstar

Finally, even “experienced” divers occasionally make mistakes – in my case, I touched something that i shouldn’t have (“Don’t touch what you don’t know”!), and got my finger “burned” for my transgression.


The stung area throbbed slightly, occasionally shooting out small spikes of pain to remind you it was there. Blisters looked like they were forming, but fortunately, did not quite bubble to the surface of the skin. Chay Hoon wasn’t sure what species it was, but muttered something about “not sure if it is the species that has flesh-eating bacteria”! I suppose if my finger drops off in a weeks time, we’ll know for sure!

And there you have it. The essence of a “good” dive! 🙂

Butter … Fly … Fish 25 Aug 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
add a comment

Three everyday words that, when put together, describe a very colourful fish, that is one of the key indicators of coral reef health. The logic behind it being a key indicator is the fact that most butterflyfish are either solely or partially dependent on corals as a source of food. Therefore, if the butterflyfish population in “healthy” or abundant, it means the reef is doing well also. Of course this does not mean that ALL butterfly fish can be used that way, since some of them do not feed on corals at all.

Anyways, I’ve spotted two new species of butterfly fish in Singapore over the last 3 years, and, similar to my post on anemonefishes, I thought it would be a good idea to continue writing about the common fish species on our reefs.

Presenting …… THE BUTTERFLYFISHES OF SINGAPORE! They are (in alphabetical order):

1. Chaetodon octofasciatus (Eight band / Eight-banded Butterflyfish)
Probably the most common butterflyfish in Singapore, they can be found on all our reefs, either alone or up to groups of 4. Juveniles tend to hide between the branches of coral (such as Acropora or Pocillopora) to avoid their enemies. They feed on corals (Allen, 1985).

2. Chaetodon adiergastos (Panda Butterflyfish)
This fish is a possible new record for Singapore, and was sighted at Kusu Island. IUCN lists Singapore as one of the countries that this fish occurs in, but does not mention the source of this information. Allen (1985) and Fishbase do not list Singapore as a site that this fish occurs in.

3. Chelmon rostratus (Copperband / Copperbanded Butterflyfish)
Photo by Eunice Khoo
The second most common butterflyfish on our reefs, this species has a fairly long snout, which it uses to good effect, snatching up crabs, worms and other invertebrates (Allen, 1985). Usually travels in pairs.

4. Coradion chrysozonus (Goldengirdled / Orangebanded Butterflyfish)
This fish is quite rare, and has been observed at Semakau and the St John’s group of islands. Lieske & Meyers (1994) say they feed on sponges, but Allen (1985) states that it has an omnivorous diet.

Heniochus varius (Horned / Humphead Bannerfish)
Only one sighting of this fish has been reported for Singapore so far (Low et al, 2009). They are thought to feed on corals and other invertebrates (Lieski and Meyers, 1994).

Parachaetodon ocellatus (Sixspined / Ocellate Butterflyfish)
Kite butterflyfish
Photo by Debby Ng
Another rarely seen fish, this species is usually seen in areas with seagrass beds (eg. Semakau). Is thought to be an omnivore (Allen, 1985).

A fish that is often mistaken for a butterflyfish is the Vermiculated Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus). It is a smallish and colorful angelfish, but has a spine on the operculum (a characteristic feature in angelfishes, but not found on butterflyfishes).
Photo by Khoo Minsheng


Allen, GR, 1985. Butterfly and angelfishes of the world. Vol 2. 352pp Mergus Publications, Germany.

Lieske, E and R Myers, 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p.

Low, JKY, JIT Tanzil & Z Jaafar, 2009. Some note-worthy fishes observed in the Singapore Straits. Nature in Singapore, 2: 77–82. [PDF, 554 KB]

On-line resources:


Nature in Singapore

New record of butterflyfish? 16 Aug 2011

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.

While doing a fish survey at Kusu Island (on 14 Aug 2011), I came across this butterflyfish, which I have not seen before in Singapore. Thanks to my trusty Canon S95, I manged to snap off a few shots and came up with three very clear images of the fish.




It is Chaetodon adiergastos, or the Panda Butterflyfish.

IUCN lists Singapore as one of the countries that this fish occurs in, but makes no mention of the reference. Fishbase on the other hand, does not. Either way, I’ve not seen this butterflyfish before at any of the sites we survey, so it is very exciting!!