Celebration Guestbook: Speak for the Reefs!

Share your hopes for our reefs and shores by leaving a comment on this post.

Every voice counts!

You CAN make a difference!

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Blue Plan to save Singapore's biodiversity-rich coral reefs ready

Conservationists urge Govt to step in to save what's left
Grace Chua, Straits Times 24 Apr 09;

THE most comprehensive proposal yet to save Singapore's coral reefs was released yesterday. It called for the Government to formally recognise the richness of reef habitats like Raffles Lighthouse and Cyrene Reef in the southern islands.

Over 60 per cent of coral reefs here have been lost to development, and the rest is under threat from climate change and pollution.

The remaining 5 to 10 sq km of reefs harbour more than 250 species of hard corals, 120 species of fish and 12 seagrass species - almost on a par with the rest of South-east Asia's hot spots for biodiversity.

The marine conservation Blue Plan, over a year in the making, was compiled by a team of academics, environmental organisations and civil society groups.

They intend to seek public feedback and release a final version in late May to the National Parks Board, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and other government agencies.

Mr Farid Hamid, chairman of the Blue Plan committee, said: 'These reefs are part of our national heritage, and we have a moral and ethical responsibility to pass that heritage on to generations to come.'

He added that the Blue Plan was a step towards protecting other marine habitats, such as mangroves and rocky shores.

The committee's main recommendations to the Government include conserving what remains of Singapore's natural coastline, conducting a biodiversity survey of reefs, and reviewing laws about reef-damaging practices, such as the use of drift nets, which can ensnare turtles and dolphins.

Mr Francis Lee, chairman of the International Year of the Reef Singapore campaign and who contributed to the Blue Plan, said: 'Protecting reefs is not a zero- sum game, and it need not be development against conservation.'

Marine areas here are home to a broad variety of species, with more found each year.

At least three new species of fish - including the 2.5cm-long broad-barred mangrove goby - have been discovered here since 2001, while boaters and divers spot dolphins and sea turtles regularly.

In addition, reefs play an important role in protecting coasts from the effects of sea-level rise due to global warming.

They could also be a tourist attraction or a source of drug discovery - last year, a researcher here found a compound in blue-green algae from Pulau Hantu that killed cancer cells.

Calls to save Singapore's reefs date back to the 1980s and 1990s, so the Blue Plan is one more in a long line of proposals.

In fact, the current Blue Plan builds on recommendations from a previous version, submitted to the Government's Feedback Unit in 2001.

Experienced marine biologist Chou Loke Ming, who contributed to the proposal, was optimistic that it would be implemented.

'Starting in the mid-90s, you saw sustainable development projects like (offshore landfill) Pulau Semakau. So attitudes have changed for the better, and we're no longer seeing the unnecessary destruction of coral reefs,' Professor Chou said.

Mr Lee added that public awareness and interest was another encouraging sign.

Each year, about 100,000 people go on guided reef walks or dives here, and about 3,500 are marine-conservation volunteers.

The Blue Plan was released at the opening of the Asia Dive Expo 2009 at the Marina at Keppel Bay yesterday.

It can be downloaded at the International Year of the Reef 2008 Singapore campaign's website at iyor08singapore.blogspot.com

Feedback can be sent to blueplan.singapore@gmail.com before May 14.

Save Singapore reefs
Grace Chua, Straits Times Breaking News 23 Apr 09;

THE most comprehensive proposal to save Singapore's coral reefs yet was released on Thursday, calling for the government to formally recognise the richness of reef habitats like Raffles Lighthouse and Cyrene Reef in the southern islands.

Over 60 per cent of coral reefs here have been lost to development, and the rest is under threat from climate change and pollution.

Yet the remaining 5 to 10 square km of reefs harbour more than 250 species of hard corals, 120 species of fish and 12 seagrass species - almost on par with the rest of South-east Asia's hotspots for biodiversity.

The marine-conservation Blue Plan, over a year in the making, was compiled by a team of academics, environment NGOs and civil society groups.

They intend to seek public feedback and release a final version in late May to the National Parks Board, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and other government agencies.

Mr Farid Hamid, the chairman of the Blue Plan committee, said: 'These reefs are part of our national heritage, and we have a moral and ethical responsibility to pass that heritage on to generations to come.'

He added that the Blue Plan was a step towards similar proposals for other marine habitats, such as mangroves and rocky shores.

The committee's main recommendations to the government include conserving what remains of Singapore's natural coastline, conducting a biodiversity survey of reefs, and reviewing laws about reef-damaging practices, such as the use of drift nets, which can ensnare turtles and dolphins.

Mr Francis Lee, chairman of the International Year of the Reef Singapore campaign and who contributed to the Blue Plan, said: 'Protecting reefs is not a zero-sum game, and it need not be development against conservation.'

Read the full story in Friday's edition of The Straits Times.

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Draft Blue Plan seeks your feedback


"The Draft Blue Plan is a proposal to the Government and people of Singapore from the members and organizations that form “International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2008 Singapore” – interested members of civil society concerned about the conservation and management of Singapore’s coral reef heritage. Contributions and advice from the leading marine biologists in Singapore have been incorporated. It was released on 23 April 2009. Members of the Public can download a copy of the Draft Blue Plan here.

Comments and suggestions from members of public are invited. You may email us at blueplan.singapore@gmail.com before the closing date, 14 May 2009. The Blue Plan will presented to the Government with the collated and edited comments in late May 2009.

Please note that blueplan.singapore@gmail.com is designed to receive emails only. While we will give every opinion/comment due consideration, due to human resource constraints, we are unable to respond to queries and may not be able to include every comment into the final Blue Plan due to editorial considerations. Please contact the Marine Conservation Organisations Listed in Annexes B & C of the Draft Blue Plan if you are keen to find out more about the wide range of activites and programmes that are being organised. We apologize for this inconvenience."

See also
Blue Plan to save Singapore's biodiversity-rich coral reefs ready
Conservationists urge Govt to step in to save what's left
Grace Chua, Straits Times 24 Apr 09;

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IYOR Singapore closes at ADEX, 23-26 Apr

Singapore's efforts for International Year of the Reef 2008 will officially come to a close at the Asian Dive Expo 23-26 Apr at Marina at Keppel Bay.

The events will include a presentation on a Blue Plan.

from the ADEX website

Opening Ceremony

1330 hrs : Address @ EcoVillage by Mr Herman Ho, Managing Director, TMX Show Productions Pte Ltd

1340 hrs : Special Presentation, Mr Emory Kristof, Deep Sea Explorer, Photographer, National Geographic, Fellow Explorer Club

1425 hrs : Closing Report of IYOR Singapore 08, Mr Francis Lee, Chairman, IYOR 08 Singapore Organising Committee

1435 hrs : Keynote Speech on the initiatives for Blue Plan I & II, Edwin Khew, Nominated Member of Parliament

1445 hrs : Speech on the Coral Triangle – Marine Conservation in the Asia Pacific
Lida Pet-Soede, Leader of WWF’s Coral Triangle Network Initiative

1500 hrs : Presentation of Outline of Blue Plan II, Farid Hamid, Chairman of Blue Plan Sub-Committee

More details on the ADEX website.

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27 Feb (Fri): Free screening of "Remember Chek Jawa"

Eric Lin Youwei's "Remember Chek Jawa" will be screened as part of the 3rd Singapore Indie Doc Fest.

Chek Jawa, discovered only in 2001 on Singapore’s Pulau (island) Ubin, is an inter-tidal area of just 1 square km with amazingly rich marine biodiversity. However, unknown to many, in 1992 the area had been slated for land reclamation, scheduled to begin just months from the discovery date. Most Singaporeans felt powerless to reverse the Government’s decision. However, a band of passionate volunteers refused to give up and believed that something could be done. Find out how they followed their hearts and helped change the course of nature conservation in Singapore forever.

More details about the screening.
Trailer on YouTube.

Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Singapore Art Museum - Glass Hall
Website: http://www.chekjawa.net/
Contact: 6337 7535 admin@substation.org

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Wild dolphins spotted!

Wild dolphins spotted near Pulau Terkukor which lies between Sentosa Island and St. John's Island.
"I was happily taking photos of Pulau Tekukor when Mei Lin suddenly tapped me hard to tell me there's a group of three pink dolphins on the other side of the boat. It was around 8.36am."

More about this dolphin sighting on Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog.

More recent wild dolphin sightings

More past dolphin sightings links on the wildsingapore website.
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6 Feb (Fri): Workshop for Nature Guides - Fishes

The Fishy Workshop
by the Leafmonkey Workshop

What's so fishy?
Well the workshop is all about marine fishes in our Singapore shores and waters! This workshop is for existing guides and those interested in becoming nature guides to learn how to effectively share stories and information about our marine fishes.

The focus of this workshop is on connecting ordinary people with nature. If you are a nature guide and have been struggling, trying to digest and convert biological facts to fun stories for your visitors, this workshop is for you!

This workshop aims to bring experienced and new nature guides together to brainstorm ideas. Let's learn from one another, and come up with new ways to share our passion.

Be prepared to work hard, have fun, make new friends and definitely learn new ways of looking at guiding and our wild places.

SPEAKER
Jeffrey Low, Blue Water Volunteers and NParks
Jeff is a marine biologist by training and profession. He is the scientific officer of Blue Water Volunteers and co-author of the Guide to Common Marine Fishes of Singapore published by the Singapore Science Center. Jeff also conducts a series of ReefFriends training sessions for volunteer divers surveying our shores.

Jeff giving a talk about corals in Singapore at the International Year of the Reef 2008 launch, Reef Celebrations, with a video clip of his talk on the Singapore Celebrates our Reefs blog.

More details of the event on the Leafmonkey Workshop

Time: 7 - 9.30pm
Venue: Civil Service College, 31 North Buona Vista Road Singapore 275983 [Map]
Website: http://leafmonkeyworkshop.blogspot.com/
Contact: leafmonkey@gmail.com

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Upcoming new IMAX movie "Under the Sea 3D"

Narrated by comedian Jim Carrey, IMAX have given a sneak peek into "Under the Sea 3D", their latest movie shot in the most exotic and isolated undersea locations. Among the introductory clips is this one about sharks and fish in the Coral Triangle.
There are more clips about reef sounds, Australian lion fish, a sea turtle eating a jellyfish and corals of the Coral Triangle. It will be showing from 13 Feb and hopefully also at our own Omni-Theatre at the Singapore Science Centre.

Five Stunning Clips and a Trailer From 'Under the Sea 3D'
Aceshowbiz 31 Jan 09;

IMAX have given a sneak peek into "Under the Sea 3D" by releasing trailer and five clips of the 3-D documentary. While the trailer explores the overall beauty and natural wonder of the oceans, each of the clip serves as an individual introduction of some of the ocean creatures, from reef squids to green sea turtle.

Narrated by comedian Jim Carrey, the five clips are titled "Reef Sound", "Australian Sea Lions", "Coral Triangle 1: Coral", "Coral Triangle 2: Sharks and Fish" and "Green Sea Turtle and Jellyfish". Around a minute long, each of the clips takes its focus on the uniqueness of the sea creatures put under the spotlight and helps one to understand how global climate change impacts the creatures.

Set to be released on February 13, "Under the Sea 3D" is a 3-D documentary from director Howard Hall. Taking place at some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth, including Southern Australia, New Guinea and others in the Indo-Pacific region, it allows viewers to experience face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious and stunning creatures of the sea.


More on the "Under the Sea 3D" website.
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4 Feb (Wed): Launch of "Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008" and Public Lecture on "Sustainable Development of Coasts and Oceans"

Southeast Asia Launch
of the Report on the
"Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008"

in conjunction with

Public Lecture on
"Sustainable Development of Coasts and Oceans:
threats, opportunities and responsible governance"
by Dr. Chua Thia-Eng
Chair of the East Asian Seas Partnership Council
of the Partnerships in Environmental Management
for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA)

About the Book Launch
This "Status of coral Reefs of the World:2008" is under the auspices of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRNM) of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). The lead author for the Southeast Asia chapter, Ms Karenne Tun of the National University of Singapore will be presenting a summary of the "Status of Coral Reefs in Southeast Asia 2008". Media articles about this Report, and previous Reports by the GCRNM.

About the Public Lecture
A brief introduction of ocean as the last frontier: its importance to the survival of mankind, its contribution to marine economy and the focus of human activities and culture in the 21st century. An analysis of old and new challenges (climate change, energy and financial crisis) to the security of the ocean and the new opportunities (including ecological and biological economies) arising from them. The need for developing and strengthening responsible ocean governance and activities and role and key activities of PEMSEA in promoting regional cooperation and partnership in addressing these challenges.

All are welcome!

Programme Outline
  • 6.30 pm: The Southeast Asia Launch of the Report on the "Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008" – Presentation on the summary of the SE Asia Chapter by Ms Karenne Tun
  • 7.00 pm: Public Lecture on "Sustainable Development of Coasts and Oceans: threats, opportunities and responsible governance" by Dr. Chua Thia-Eng
  • 8.00pm: Q&A Session
  • 8.15pm: End of event

Time: 6.30pm; refreshments will be served from 5.45pm onwards
Venue: Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Location map and getting there on the Botanic Gardens website
Contact: Rachel/Shufen at 6465 1690/1

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Ocean Conference at ADEX Singapore 3-4 Apr 09

Topics to be covered include: Aquariums & Oceanariums, Marine Eco Tourism, Regenerating Reefs, Climate Change with speakers such as Prof Chou Loke Ming, Neville Coleman, Michael Aw.

Ocean Conference is a special focus conference for companies with strong environmental stewardship, conservationists, passionate divers, marine enthusiasts and underwater photographers.

It is the first and largest event of its kind in Singapore where 8 internationally renowned experts will convene to offer professional insight into various aspects of the vast marine environment. 150 delegates from around the world are expected at Ocean Conference.

3 April 2009 - Friday

  • Opening address – The Ocean In Perspective: Emory Kristof
  • Underwater Rainforests – The Challenges of Preserving Coral Reefs: Helen Newman/ Mark Erhmann
  • Marine Eco Tourism - The Asia/Indo-Pacific Marine Life Inventory: Neville Coleman
  • Regenerating Reefs – Facts and Fallacies: Prof Chou Loke Ming
  • Changing the Face of Ocean Terror: Michael Aw
4 Aprl 2009 - Saturday
  • Marine Tourism – Boon and Bane, Advantages or Nuisances: Neville Coleman (Chair), Helen Newman, Henrik Nimb, Yatin Premchand
  • Climate Change, Coral Reefs & Scuba Diver: Prof Chou Loke Meng (Chair), Henrik Nimb, Howard Shaw, Mark Erdmann
  • Aquariums & Oceanariums - Contentious Issues: Emory Kristof (Chair), Henrik Nimb, Neville Coleman, Yatin Premchand
  • Carbon’s Footprint and its Effects on the Ocean: Howard Shaw
  • Projecting Green Branding, Mere Advertising or True CSR?: Howard Shaw (Chair), Helen Newman, Neville Coleman, Michael Aw
Dates: 3 and 4 April 2009
Time: 3 April, 2.00pm – 5.30pm, Conference Sessions;
4 April, 9.30am – 5.00pm, Conference Sessions & Panel Discussion
Venue: Suntec Singapore, 602-603

More details on the ADEX website.

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WWF Singapore looking for Singapore Sustainable Seafood Campaign consultant

The live reef fish trade (LRFT) has been identified as a serious threat.

Juvenile humphead wrasse (far left and far right), amongst other live tropical coral reef fish kept in water tanks before being sold to customers. Fish market, Hong Kong. China. From the WWF website.


WWF Singapore, in partnership with the Coral Triangle Network Initiative (CTNI), has developed a project to increase the awareness of Singaporean consumers on the need to make a sustainable choice when purchasing seafood and to utilize a resident “customized” Singapore seafood guide to make those choices. The awareness campaign will focus on seafood consumption in Singapore.

In order to develop the full “customized” Singapore seafood guide, an inventory of seafood products traded in Singapore will need to be determined.

WWF is seeking an experienced fisheries biologist/ecologist to collect data on seafood on sale in Singapore at various wholesale and retail outlets in Singapore.

Interested applicants are requested to send a copy of their CV to Ms Amy Ho, Managing Director, WWF Singapore at aho@wwf.sg, by 24 Jan 2009.

Full details on the WWF Singapore website, at this PDF download.

See also earlier media reports on this fish guide.

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First look at data on Singapore's seagrass meadows

TeamSeagrass has been monitoring Singapore seagrass meadows for two years. The data is submitted among others to international Seagrass-Watch. Seagrass-Watch HQ has been busy over the New Year updating web pages for each of the monitoring regions with the latest available data.

Here's a peek at the trends on Chek Jawa. There's data too for Pulau Semakau!
As well as write ups about other features of our shores.

Visit the Seagrass-Watch website pages on Singapore to have a look at what all the hard work by TeamSeagrass has revealed about our shores!

To find out more about see the TeamSeagrass blog for registration details. You CAN make a difference for our shores!

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Last lows of 2008

On the dark moonless nights of the last not so low tides of 2008, more shores were explored. The 'moon slug' was spotted again! As well as other surprises: marine and terrestrial on our islands.

The Hantu Bloggers had their last dive of the year at the fantastic reefs of Pulau Hantu. The intrepid Chay Hoon captured a whole host of the marvellous marine life there. Such as seahorses, icon sea stars, ovulid snails on sea fans and lots and lots of slugs. Including this very greedy nudibranch!
The Semakau Book Project brought many nature lovers to Pulau Semakau again. The Butterfly Circle in just one quick visit came up with 18 species of butterflies! John, an expert on bees and wasps also came along and share more about this gianormous hornet's nest on the island!
While more mangroves were explored with an encounter with Avicennia marina just off the seawall.

The Vertebrate Group (aka the Verters) also made an evening trip to check out the island. These experts helped those unfamiliar with life above the high water mark, to find the vertebrates on Pulau Semakau. There were frogs and toads and geckoes, even right on the tarmac!In the dark, the experts detected signs of bats and night birds. While other large marine life in the mangroves were seen, including a humungous Mud crab!
The blue skies made even sad situations look nice, and the weather was glorious for landscape shots, although the mozzies made things challeging.

Meanwhile a visit to Sultan Shoal by other shore explorers revealed some interesting fiddler crabs and other sightings.
Diehard shore explorers spent the absolute last low tide of 2008 at the Sisters Island. Where marvellous video clips of 'Nemos' were shot, and the spotted Moon-headed side-gill slug made an appearance, while two sea snakes said hello.As the tides were not very low during this period, other less glamorous shores were also examined with some surprises! There were stars on Sembawang shores And stars too at Pasir Ris and on the reclaimed shores of Lazarus. Kranji was a little disappointing and Seletar was viewed only from afar.

There were also belated updates about amazing marine life on Siloso Beach Sentosa on the aptly named Lazy Lizard's Tales blog.
The Naked Hermit Crabs also had a great time at the last guided Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour for the year.

The first super low tides of 2009 are fast approaching in a few days' time. No doubt more shore discoveries will be made!

Happy 2009 Everyone!

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9 Jan (Fri): Workshop on Hard Corals for nature guides

The Hard Cnidarians Workshop
by the Leafmonkey Workshop

What are "hard cnidarians"? These aren't difficult cnidarians, but corals with hard skeletons!Living reefs of Raffles Lighthouse, SingaporeThe focus of this workshop is on connecting ordinary people with nature. If you are a nature guide and have been struggling, trying to digest and convert biological facts to fun stories for your visitors, this workshop is for you!

This workshop aims to bring experienced and new nature guides together to brainstorm ideas. Let's learn from one another, and come up with new ways to share our passion.

Be prepared to work hard, have fun, make new friends and definitely learn new ways of looking at guiding and our wild places.

SPEAKER
Jeffrey Low, Blue Water Volunteers and NParks
Jeff is a marine biologist by training and profession. He is the scientific officer of Blue Water Volunteers and Hard Coral Master (see his flickr coral guide). Jeff also conducts a series of ReefFriends training sessions for volunteer divers surveying our shores.


Jeff giving a talk about corals in Singapore at the International Year of the Reef 2008 launch, Reef Celebrations, with a video clip of his talk.

More details of the event on the Leafmonkey Workshop

Time: 7 - 9.30pm
Venue: Civil Service College, 31 North Buona Vista Road Singapore 275983 [Map]
Website: http://leafmonkeyworkshop.blogspot.com/
Contact: leafmonkey@gmail.com

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TeamSeagrass and global seagrass monitoring in 2008

A bumper issue of the International Seagrass Watch Newsletter marks the end of 2008 and the beginning of bigger things!
Our very own TeamSeagrass Singapore is part of this global programme and there's a fabulous article about the Team's efforts throughout the year.Read more about the Team's past adventures and escapades. Including, "The Fastest Site to Monitor Award", "The Toughest Seagrasser Award", "Best Boatman Award", "The Wonky Tides Award", "The Funniest Gullible Moment Award", and more!

There are also fascinating articles about rays, dugongs and seagrass efforts and issues throughout the world. Download the Seagrass Watch Newsletter and read all the articles for yourself!

Want to join TeamSeagrass? Simply email these details
(a) your full name
(b) your age
(c) your email address
(d) your contact number
(e) any previous experience
to Ria at hello@wildsingapore.com, please put "TeamSeagrass" in your subject header.

Please read the FAQs on the TeamSeagrass blog for any questions you might have about the programme. This link includes all monitoring dates in Singapore for 2009.

See you on the seagrass soon!

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