FAQ about our reefs

  • Does Singapore have reefs?
  • Can an ordinary person see Singapore’s marine heritage?
  • What’s so special about Singapore’s reefs?
  • Why should we save our reefs?
  • Do Singaporeans care about our reefs and shores?
  • What are some of the challenges in conserving Singapore’s reefs and shores?
  • Is co-existence/a balanced approach to development and conservation possible?
  • How can one person make a difference for our reefs and shores?

1. Does Singapore have reefs?

Even though development has decimated Singapore reefs and only an estimated 10% of our marine natural heritage remains, the answer is an overwhelming YES! The litany of "uniquely Singaporean" statistics for our reefs includes:

More than 250 species of hard corals from 55 genera, which compare favourably with the more extensive reefs of the region
.A4 Poster: The Superb Sisters
More than 120 reef fish species from 30 families, and still counting.

11 out of the 23 seagrass species that can be found in the Indo-Pacific region.
Seagrass surprises
Dolphins and sea turtles are regularly spotted by boaters and divers. Dolphins are usually seen around the Sisters / St John's islands and also off Pulau Satumu (Raffles Lighthouse). Adult sea turtles are regularly seen around Pulau Hantu and Pulau Satumu, and newly hatched baby turtles have been encountered on a regular basis (about 4 sightings a year, at East Park Beach, Sentosa and West Coast Park Beach).

2. Can an ordinary person see Singapore’s marine heritage?

There are many options for the public to see the reefs of Singapore. For scuba divers, the Reef Xplore programme, run by the Hantu Bloggers, offers a guided tour of the underwater diversity of Pulau Hantu.

For non-scuba divers (and even scuba divers!), many volunteer groups run "No need to swim, no need to dive!" guided walks of our shores, including trips by the Naked Hermit Crabs (Sentosa and the Chek Jawa boardwalk), Blue Water Volunteers (Kusu Island) and the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (Pulau Semakau).
A4 Poster: You CAN make a difference
Guided walks to other marine related habitats are also carried out at Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin (where vast seagrass meadows still thrive), at the internationally famous Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (mangroves and shorebirds), together with the mangroves at Pasir Ris Park.

All the guided walks are family-friendly too! More details about regular reef and shores activites.

3. What’s so special about Singapore’s reefs?

In addition to the astounding biodiversity that exists on our reefs, they are also easy to get to! Where else in the world can a visitor quickly go from a high-level business meeting at a world class hotel, to visit a living reef in under half an hour? It only takes 15 minutes to reach the nearest reef by fast boat.
A4 Poster: Singapore has world-class reefs

4. Why should we save our reefs?

Worldwide, reefs provide a range of services. They are a food source for millions of people, and many reefs are also important tourist attractions, making them a critical source of livelihood and income for many coastal communities and industry players. They also provide vital ecosystems services - acting as a carbon sink and shore protections are just two such services.

In Singapore’s current effort to attract global clients of high net-worth, offering a full spectrum of natural attractions in close proximity to world class living conditions would be uniquely Singapore. A higher premium would accrue if Singapore develops urban living in a sustainable manner with sensitivity to existing ecosystems.

Singapore can excel in sustainable development, with the accent on sustainability, and also champion biodiversity conservation. Becoming not only a green, but also a blue city, and a more rounded global hub for environmental studies, research and practices.

In addition, the knowledge and expertise in all of this knowledge and databases can potentially generate revenue in environmentally friendly and sustainable developments overseas.

5. Do Singaporeans care about our reefs and shores?

Yes! About 3,500 volunteers work to provide guided walks, guided dives as well as conduct regular monitoring of seagrasses and reefs and to clean up and collect data on marine debris on our shores.

There is also a growing number of Singaporeans who blog and share photos and stories of their work for the shores. Latest blog entries about our reefs and shores.

Even larger numbers of Singaporeans, residents and visitors (to the tune of 100,000 annually) join these walks to view our shores and reefs. All regular guided tours on reefs are quickly booked within days of being offered. The wait-list for guided walks at Chek Jawa and Kusu Island remain long.
Labrador: A living classroom
Leading organizations have also formed the Singapore Reef and Marine Conservation Committee, which has for two decades, been engaging government to conserve our reefs, particularly in the formulation and implementation of Singapore’s Green Plans.

6. What are some of the challenges in conserving Singapore’s reefs and shores?

Coastal development vs conservation
Singapore has lost much of its natural coastal habitats to development. Ports and container terminals and offshore refineries have resulted in a distinctive, but urbanized skyline. Through mergers and expansions, the once over 60 offshore islands and patch reefs around Singapore have been reduced to about half in number, and many lagoons and public facilities are now scattered through out the existing ones. The coral reefs in Singapore have lost up to 80 to 90% of their live coral cover as a result of the direct and indirect effects of these developments.
A4 Poster: Threats to our shores - Coastal Development and Global Warming
The most significant cause of reef degradation in Singapore is sedimentation, affecting the reefs by causing a slow but steady reduction in live coral cover and by reducing the lower depth limit of coral growth on reef slopes. Sedimentation studies in 1979 and 1994, show sedimentation rates ranging from 3-6mg/sq cm/day in 1979 to 5-45mg/sq cm/day in 1994 (the higher value obtained from localised areas close to reclamation projects). Surveys since 1986 indicated that live coral cover decreased by up to 80% on some reefs, although other reefs registered less impact. The reduction in sunlight penetration has reduced the lower depth limit of coral growth. In the 1980s, coral growth extended to 10m down the reef slopes. Today, growth is restricted to 6m although some coral species still occur at the 8m depth. Visibility has reduced from 10m in the 1960s to 2m or less today. As a consequence, coral growth is restricted to the shallow depths, as opposed to reefs in clear waters, where coral may be found at depths of 20m and more.

Careless treatment of our reefs and shores
Other activities that also have an impact on the reefs include recreational and tourist-related use. Negligent or inexperienced reef-users without proper buoyancy control, can leave a trail of broken corals. Improperly dropped anchors can uproot large coral heads, and indiscriminate collection of marine life on our shores depletes already strained plant and animal stocks, and destructive fishing practices can leave behind abandoned drift nets and fish cages.

7. Is co-existence/a balanced approach to development and conservation possible?

The Semakau Landfill, Singapore’s only existing landfill, was developed and operated in such a way that half of the original Pulau Semakau remained relatively undisturbed. The coastal habitats on the western side of the island are still intact, and nature walks there are an eye-opening discovery of wild mangroves, vast seagrass meadows and amazing coral reefs!
A4 Poster: Pulau Semakau Seagrass Meadows
This know-how will be much sought after as other countries seek to manage the disposal of solid wastes and develop with minimal impact to their large natural reefs and coastal habitats, for tourism or other purposes. Sustainable coastal development can be exported in the same way Singapore has exported the technologies, policies and processes, for dealing with limited water and other natural resources. Habitat restoration and enhancement successes, will also be sought after.
A4 Poster: Cyrene Reef
Every development near the shore should be seen as an opportunity for Singapore to prove that it has the know-how to develop and operate first-world facilities without wiping out natural habitats.

8. How can one person make a difference for our reefs and shores?

We highly encourage interested individuals to simply "Explore, Express and Act".

Explore our shores
Visit our shores and reefs. See them for yourself! Join the many activities for our reefs in 2008. Links to the various activities can be found on our Singapore Celebrates our Reefs blog (http://iyor08singapore.blogspot.com).

Express for our shores
Share your experiences, your hopes and your knowledge about our reefs. Tell your family, your friends and your colleagues! And tell us about it, too!! We'd love to hear from you! Or, if you have your own blog or website, we can add it to the Singapore Celebrates our Reefs blog (http://iyor08singapore.blogspot.com).

Act for our shores
Be a volunteer! If you have a passion for nature, make the time to help out with local conservation groups. Most have activities to suit any contribution of skill, time and energy. Every contribution, large and small, short-term and long-term, can make a big difference.

Here's MORE ways to make a difference for our reefs.

Reef Talks: invite these speakers

These speakers are ready to to give talks! Learn more about our shores and reefs, and how you can make a difference for them. If you have a group of at least 50 people, do contact us at iyor08singapore@gmail.com to discuss arrangements.

List of talks and speakers

The Fascination of the Wet and Wild
by Dr Chua Ee Kiam

Walk on the wild side: Marine conservation in Singapore
by Jeffrey Low

Southern Haunt
by Debby Ng

Sustainable Seafood for Singapore: How can seafood be not enough?
by Tan Hang Chong

Our Splendid Shores: and How You Can Help to Preserve Them
by Ron Yeo

Secret Shores of Singapore
by Ria Tan


The Fascination of the Wet and Wild
by Dr Chua Ee Kiam

Duration of talk: 1 hour

Target audience: anyone

Talk content: Dr Chua has always been concerned about the constant degradation and devastation of the rainforests and coral reefs in the region. He shares his vision of a better tomorrow by highlighting the beauty of the natural heritage with his photography and writing.

About the speaker: Winner of 2 Book Awards - National Book Development Council Award,1994 and “Honorable Mention” (Independent Publisher’s Book Award, New York, 2005, Dr Chua has written five nature books: Nature in Singapore – Ours To Protect; Pulau Ubin – Ours To Treasure; Chek Jawa – Discovering Singapore’s Biodiversity; Borneo’s Tropical Eden – Sabah and Singapore’s Splendour – Life on the Edge. Proceeds from the sales of his books have been donated for nature–related activities. He has contributed articles to NatureWatch and takes an active role in promoting his love for nature with his lectures to schools and to the public. He was also the main photographer for the book on Dentistry, "Dentistry - 1915 to 1996". Dr Chua is a Senior Consultant with the National Dental Centre and Clinical Associate Professor with NUH.

Walk on the wild side: Marine conservation in Singapore
by Jeffrey Low

Duration of talk: 1 hour

Target audience: anyone

Talk content: Singapore is well known as a "Garden City", and many people do not know the natural wonders that exist just off shore. As much of the country has been reclaimed, many of the marine environments have been impacted. However, marine life still has a tenuous hold in many of the islands off the coast of mainland Singapore.

A small, but growing, number of conservationists have endeavoured over the past 20 years to promote the conservation of our least known natural heritage. The speaker will give a brief insight into the history of the marine conservation movement in Singapore, focusing mainly on the southern islands and coral reefs. Individual efforts and group activities will also be discussed to highlight the actions Singaporeans can take to help conserve the wonderful underwater world.

About the speaker: Jeffrey graduated from NUS in with a Bachelors of Science degree in 1988, and obtaining his Masters degree in 1999. He has worked on many coral reef and marine-related projects as a Research Assistant with NUS, first at the Reef Ecology Laboratory and then at the Tropical Marine Science Institute. He joined NParks in 2003 as a Senior Biodiversity Officer, overseeing development and marine conservation issues in the southern islands of Singapore.

An experienced scuba diver with over 2000 dives, he has dived not only in many parts of Asia, but also on many of the reefs in Singapore. He is an active guide and trainer with the Blue Water Volunteers, a local marine conservation NGO, in their Reef Walk, Reef Friends and Reef Xplore! programmes.

He has also co-authored a Singapore Science Centre guidebook Common Marine Fishes of Singapore, was a research writer for the ASEANAREAN Expedition series The Marine Parks of Thailand (1997), as well as the for the Marine Parks of Indonesia (1999), in which he was also the principal underwater photographer.

Southern Haunt
by Debby Ng

Duration of talk: 1 hour

Target audience: Secondary 1 and above

Talk content: Pulau Hantu is one of Singapore's most renowned Southern Islands. Despite its prominence, it is constantly left to cope with a relentlessly changing coastline and marine environment. For a long time, the threats to Pulau Hantu have avoided the scrutiny of the public and the brilliance of its marine habitat gone unheralded. Debby Ng will bring clarity to the usually murky waters of Pulau Hantu with her underwater photos and videos.

About the speaker: Debby Ng is a full-time environmental journalist. She began her work in film and moved on to television, but eventually realised that she gained the most satisfaction from communicating her concerns on the environment through her photography and writing. Her work has been published in several regional and international magazines, including the award-winning Lebanese magazine, Environment & Development. She has also worked with numerous Asian and international non-government organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). In 2005 she assisted the Indonesian government in their assessment of fisheries, a project funded by The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the only conservation organisation with official observer status at the United Nations. Debby Ng is founder of the Hantu Blog, an education and awareness project powered entirely by volunteers and utilising free electronic media. She is also a volunteer dive guide and a freelance nature guide with Creative Kids.

This talk was given to 50 students at Marris Stella High School and at the Biodiversity Talk Series by the Conservation Division, NParks.

Sustainable Seafood for Singapore
How can seafood be not enough?
by Tan Hang Chong

Duration of talk: 30-45 mins (adjustable to your audience and time slot)

Target audience: anyone

Talk content: The world's fisheries and marine ecosystems are threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, warming waters, invasive species and industrial-scale overfishing. These growing threats can put the precious food resources we get from the sea in grave danger. But whether you're holding a restaurant menu or wheeling your shopping cart through the supermarket, some of the simplest solutions to keeping our oceans healthy are at your fingertips. Find out how your personal choices *can* make a real and positive difference to our blue planet.

About the speaker: Tan Hang Chong has been a volunteer with various environmental and nature organisations in Singapore for the last 15 years. A desire to learn more about sustainable seafood and its local implications has provided him with the impetus share his findings through this talk. He also volunteers as a nature guide at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and Central Nature Reserve and with the Blue Water Volunteers.

Our Splendid Shores
And How You Can Help to Preserve Them
by Ron Yeo

Duration of talk: 45min - 1 hour (adjustable to your audience and time slot)

Target audience: Youths, but can be adjusted for all ages

Talk content: From cute starfishes, colourful sea slugs, and beautiful corals to spiky sea urchins, ugly stonefishes, and venomous sea snakes, the audience will be treated to a photographic introduction to the various marine life that can be found on Singapore shores. The speaker will also elaborate on how everyone can play a part in marine conservation. Subject to availability, two other nature volunteers will also be invited as part of the talk to share their experiences.

About the speaker: Ron is an active nature volunteer with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), Naked Hermit Crabs, Wildfilms, TeamSeagrass and Pulau Ubin. He also runs the tiDE CHAsER blog and contributes to the Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs blog. His photos have been published in several RMBR publications, including Private Lives: An Exposé of Singapore's Shores.

This talk was given to 80 school children at Woodlands Ring Primary School and North Vista Secondary School.

Secret Shores of Singapore
by Ria Tan of wildsingapore

Duration of talk: 30 mins - 1 hour (adjustable to your audience and time slot)

Target audience: anyone

Talk content: 300-600 recent photos and stories of adventures and discoveries on our living shores. From Changi to Tuas, Sentosa to the Sisters Islands and beyond. Nemos, sea snakes, living corals and more. Ria will also share about some of the threats to our shores, and the many ways ordinary people CAN make a difference about our little-known shores. For a sample of the photos in the talk, see the wildsingapore flickr site

About the speaker: Ria is not a scientist and is just an ordinary person who has been photographing the shores for the last 7 years. She is co-author of the Chek Jawa Guidebook and Southern Shores guidesheet and had recently launched an online guide to Singapore's common marine life. She has been involved in setting up the guiding system at Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau, currently volunteers in guide training with the Leafmonkey workshops and also volunteers with the Naked Hermit Crabs and TeamSeagrass. She contributes to several blogs including the wild shores of singapore, wildsingapore news, wildsingapore happenings and the Singapore celebrates our reefs blog.

This talk was conducted for 450 people at NUS and 40 people at the NIE Green Club and 60 people at NUS and about 40 people at the Biodiversity Talk Series by the Conservation Division, NParks. and 40 people at MUIS and about 40 people at the Transitions Optical event the and about 40 people at Reel Revolution.

Events to celebrate IYOR all year round!

Lots of events are planned throughout 2008. From family walks on our shores and reefs, to exhibitions and talks. There's also lots of opportunities to make a difference for our reefs!

Here are some of the events you can expect in 2008!

For exact dates and other details, please view the listing on the left sidebar of this blog.


Chek Jawa Intertidal Walks with the volunteers of Ubin NParks A guided walk for the entire family to explore this now famous shore and the new boardwalk. There are reefs at Chek Jawa too, but these are too delicate to bring large groups of people to. Nevertheless, there is plenty to see on the vast seagrass meadows and other amazing shore ecosystems. Sea stars as big as your face, giant sea anemones, crabs and more! More about Chek Jawa and the Ubin NParks volunteers.

Chek Jawa Boardwalk Tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs Our shores are fascinating even when the tides are not super low! Volunteer guides introduce the coastal forest, mangroves as well as other intertidal habitats on this walk designed especially for families. Chek Jawa has reefs too! But these are rather delicate so we don't conduct walks on them. More on the Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs blog

Pulau Hantu dives with the Hantu Bloggers A unique and educational dive experience in our very own reefs. Discover what is truly, uniquely Singapore! Your support helps the Hantu Blog monitor and document Hantu's fascinating living reefs on a regular basis. More on the Hantu Blog.

Kusu Island Reefwalks with the Blue Water Volunteers Our wild and wonderful coral reefs are just too exciting to be enjoyed by divers only! Non-swimmers are most welcome, as we only visit the reefs during low tide, so you only expect to get wet around your ankles at most. Trained and enthusiastic volunteer guides will introduce you to the marine life found on Kusu Island and share reef stories. More on the Blue Water Volunteers website

Pulau Semakau intertidal walks with the volunteers of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research A half-day guided walk that introduces you to the operations of the landfill and the pristine intertidal area of Pulau Semakau. Explore the rich seagrass meadows and coral reefs without having to dive! More on the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research website.

Sentosa intertidal walks with the Naked Hermit Crabs Explore this natural shore with reefs, seagrasses, natural cliffs and coastal forest. Sentosa is often thought to be an artificial 'Disneyland'. Few realise that there are still some natural treasures on this island. Come see them for yourself before they are lost to further development. Volunteer guides conduct this walk designed especially for families. More on the Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs blog

TeamSeagrass monitoring of our seagrass meadows at Chek Jawa, Sentosa, Pulau Semakau and more! Ordinary people CAN make a difference! This team of volunteers from all walks of life regularly monitor our seagrasses. The data gathered will help us better understand and manage our seagrass meadows. More details on the teamseagrass blog.

Sports Fishing at Semakau with the Sport Fishing Association of Singapore. From January to September 2008, SFAS Semakau sport fishing trip will be an on going fishing league, based on a point system, there will be total of nine trips to compete for the League Champion and a final shoot out in October 2008. Those who do not wish to take part in the league can also come for the trips during this time. The SFAS practice catch and release and among the rules are that anglers must demonstrate proper conduct and practice good fishing ethics and etiquette, and anglers are to use artificial lures or flies for sport fishing and not to use any organic baits (dead or alive) in all fishing activities. More details on the Sport Fishing Association of Singapore website.



17 Jan: Talk about our living shores to 450 people at the National University of Singapore. By Ria Tan as part of the Department of Geography's 'Biophysical Environment of Singapore' course.

22 and 25 Jan: Young Writers Blogging about our Reefs! The homeschoolers learn about blogging and our reefs! The young ones go for a seashore walk and later are introduced to blogging by NIE Green Club and the Naked Hermit Crabs, while Joseph Lai introduces them to the shores. The young bloggers will then post about their reef experiences throughout the year! More about the homeschoolers on the Flying Fish Friends blog.

10 Jan (Thu): "SharkWater: Protect them, not eat them" This Charity Premiere by the Singapore Environment Council features biologist and investigative reporter, Rob Stewart who follows the trail of the multi-billion dollar shark fin trade and sets off a chain of events that has to be seen to be believed. Proceeds from this premiere support Singapore Environment Council and OceanNEnvironment’s SAY NO TO SHARK FINS campaign in Singapore. More details.


15 Feb: Talk on Pulau Hantu About 50 students were treated to Debby Ng's stories about Pulau Hantu's underwater beauty and the threats it faces, while Toh Chay Hoon also shared about all our other wildlife beneath the sky - from spiders and lizards to slugs and bugs! More about the talk.

22 Feb: Talk about our wild shores
about 40 people at NIE attended a talk by Ria Tan. More about the talk.


18 Mar: Talk about our shores
80 students at Woodlands Ring Primary School attended a talk by Ron Yeo about our shores. More about the talk.

31 Mar:
Talk about our shores students at North Vista Secondary School attended a talk by Ron Yeo about our shores. More about the talk.

31 Mar - 1 Apr: Code Blue
features our reefs at NUS, raising awareness and inspiring action. More about the event.


3 Apr: Reef talk for NUS
60 students attended a talk about our shores by Ria Tan. More about the talk.

18-20 Apr: Asian Dive Expo (ADEX)
features International Year of the Reef in their eco-village. More about the event.


1 May: Dugong Ambassadors at Chek Jawa
the homeschool kids will paint a mural, conduct public outreach and beach clean up to celebrate International Year of the Reef. More about the event.

3 May: "Secret Shores of Singapore"
talk by Ria Tan during
the Earth Day and World Biodiversity Day celebration by NParks Conservation Division. More about the event.

15 May: "Secret Shores of Singapore"
talk by Ria Tan for about 40 staff at MUIS. More about the event.

26 May: "Southern Haunt"
talk by Debby Ng was during the
Earth Day and World Biodiversity Day celebration by NParks Conservation Division. More about the event.


7 Jun:
"Secret Shores of Singapore" talk and exhibition by Ria Tan for the Transitions Optical event. More about the event.


13 Jul:
"Secret Shores of Singapore" talk by Ria Tan for about 40 young film-makers at Reel Revolution. More about the event.


Clean up our shores! International Coastal Cleanup Singapore will be conducted in September to clean up our mangroves, beaches and reefs. Come join us to not only help clean up our shores and reefs, but also learn more about them. What are the threats they face? And what can we do to help. More on the News from the International Coastal Cleanup Blog

Singapore IYOR efforts

Who are involved in organising IYOR efforts and what are some of the focus areas and activities?

IYOR 08 Singapore Framework

IYOR 08 Singapore has been initiated by a diverse group of individuals and organizations, active in marine conservation, that come together in recent years as the Marine Round Table. Two consultative sessions were held, one in 2006 and the other in 2007. This Marine Round Table has formed the IYOR 08 Singapore Organising Committee. It is an open and inclusive Committee, serving only to initiate and co-ordinate activities, and will welcome any like-minded volunteer who wishes to join in.

The advisors, officers and members of the IYOR 08 Singapore Organising Committee are:

I) Hon Advisors:
Prof Tommy Koh, Ambassador at large
Prof Chou Loke Ming, Professor, the National University of Singapore
Dr Shawn Lum, President, Nature Society (Singapore)
Dr Geh Min, former President, Nature Society (Singapore), Former NMP
Dr Isabelle Louis, Director, Asia Pacific Programme, WWF International
Mr Edwin Khew, NMP, CEO & MD, IUT Global and Chairman, SEAS
Mr Balakrishnan, Commodore, Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
Mr Bob Ashman, Commodore, Changi Sailing Club
Mr Arthur Tay, Chairman, ONE°15 Marina Club
Ms Wang Look Fung, Keppel Corp Ltd
Ms Abigail Alling, President, Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, USA

II) Officers:
Mr Francis Lee, Chairman
Mr Leong Kwok Peng, Dy Chairman
Mr Jeffrey Low, Vice Chairman
Mr Farid Hamid, Vice Chairman
Ms Kelly Ong, Vice Chairman
Ms Ria Tan, Hon Secretary
Ms Kelly Ong, Dy Hon Secretary

III) Focus Clusters:
Reef Database Cluster
Mr Jeffrey Low, Chairman

Blue Plan Cluster
Mr Farid Hamid, Chairman

Awareness & Outreach Cluster
Ms Kelly Ong, Chairman

IYOR 08 Singapore focuses its work in three main clusters, namely:

(1) Reef Database Cluster
Chaired by Jeffrey Low (NParks)
The goal for this Cluster is to collate and review the reef databases already available, find out which are open and which are locked. For locked databases, to explore how these could be opened if only for IYOR 2008 and consolidation, to form a central national database. The Cluster will also consider where additional data is needed, avoid duplication in data collection, and look into updating data, organise training and conduct fresh surveys.

Members include the Raffles Marina, the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC), the Changi Sailing Club, ONE°15 Marina Club, Keppel Marina, Singapore Underwater Federation (SUF), NParks, Blue Water Volunteers and other constituent members of the Singapore Reef and Marine Conservation Committee. The RSYC will take the lead on the fresh field surveys needed.

(2) Blue Plan Cluster
Chaired by Farid Hamid (Ithaca)
The goal for this Cluster is to review the previous prototype Blue Plan submitted. Utilizing information gathered from the efforts of the Reef Database Cluster, the Cluster will take the lead in formulating and drafting a new comprehensive Blue Plan for Singapore, as a vital contribution to the conservation of our coral reefs and to actualize the vision of together, making Singapore into a coral paradise over the next 10 years. This new proposal should reflect good master planning, balance development with sustainability and promote the proper stewardship of the reefs in Singapore.

Consideration will be taken of the carbon sequestering aspects of large bodies of waters in Singapore seas, mangroves, reefs and other shore ecosystems. Surveys on how ordinary people value the shores can be done, as well as consultations with the public, reaching out to target groups with materials specific to these groups, for example, fishermen, boaters and divers. Following such efforts, talk-walks can then be offered to decision-makers and captains of industry. These events will have to be managed differently from field trips. It was suggested that these trips should be on a private basis, so that decision-makers and captains of industry can be more relaxed, rather than as publicity trips with the press.

The Blue Plan will then be the theme to be considered at the next Marine Roundtable 3, in 2008 and publicity of the Blue Plan would be considered as a 'finale' event for IYOR 08 Singapore.

Members include Chua Sek Chuan, Leong Kwok Peng and Nigel Kaw.

(3) Awareness and Outreach Cluster
Chaired by Kelly Ong (Underwater World S)
The goal of this Cluster is to inform and instill interest in our reefs, to dispel the notion that Singapore does not have any reefs left, and to raise awareness on what we can do to protect coral reefs.

Other than the production and free distribution of literature and collaterals to interested individuals, schools and organizations, a wide range of activities will be held in celebration of IYOR which will include public talks, roving exhibitions, dives at our reefs and intertidal walks on our shores.

The “Singapore celebrates our reefs” blog http://iyor08singapore.blogspot.com/ was set up to publicize these efforts, with feature articles about our shores and issues in marine conservation. A flickr IYOR group was set up to share high resolution photos of our shores. It now has 38 members and nearly 2,000 high resolution photos. http://www.flickr.com/groups/619241@N24/

Members include Underwater World Singapore, ECO-Singapore, WildSingapore, Blue Water Volunteers, Hantu Bloggers, TeamSeagrass, Naked Hermit Crabs, Raffles Museum of Singapore, Nature Society Singapore, and many more.

IYOR 08 Singapore Organising Committee members (in alphabetical order)
Aaron Yeo (ECO-Singapore)
Belmont Lay (NUS/Roots & Shoots)
Benny Ng (Raffles Marina)
Commodore Balakrishnan (Republic of Singapore Yacht Club)
Debby Ng (Hantu Blog)
Edzra Iskandar (Ministry of Education/Nature Society Singapore)
Farid Hamid (Ithaca)
Francis Lee
Ivan Choong (Nature Society Singapore/Flying Manta Project)
Jeff Mahon (Underwater World Singapore)
Jeffery Low (NParks)
Jezamine Lee (Haw Par Corpn)
Juward Ho (Underwater World Singapore)
Kelly Ong (Underwater World Singapore)
Kua Kay Yaw (Singapore Underwater Federation)
Leong Kwok Peng (Nature Society Singapore)
Neo Wee Sim (Republic of Singapore Yacht Club)
November Tan (Naked Hermit Crabs)
Ria Tan (wildsingapore)
Roy Yeo (Underwater World Singapore)
Stephen Beng (Singapore Underwater Federation)
Stephen Lau (Nature Society Singapore)
Tan Hang Chong (Nature Society Singapore)
Vivian Mamawag (World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF)
Wilson Ang (ECO-Singapore)
Yves De Leeneer (Planetary Coral Reef Foundation)

IYOR 08 Singapore Calendar of Events

To celebrate Singapore's marine life, the members of IYOR 08 Singapore have consolidated their efforts and programmes to present a year-long calendar of activities. This wide range of activities will cater to almost every member of the public, including monthly dives of our reefs, walks on our shores (for those do not want to swim or dive), talks, outings and excursions, of various kinds.

The dives will be conducted in our southern islands, primarily at Pulau Hantu, while walks will be organised at diverse locations - Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau, Kusu Island, Sentosa, Cyrene Reef, Sungei Buloh and Pasir Ris. There are also special programmes such as the Marine Fish tours and PrawnWatch at Sungei Buloh.

The public are also welcome to join in the monitoring of our marine habitats, run by TeamSeagrass (monitoring the seagrass meadows) and Reef Friends (monitoring the coral reefs of Singapore).

Schools and volunteer groups will be welcome to not only take part, but create projects to supplement these activities and cater to the needs of their students and constituencies.

Major celebrations of IYOR include outreach activities at the Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) in April, and International Coastal Cleanup Singapore in September. There will also be a roving IYOR road show comprising of exhibits about Singapore's living reefs, that will be hosted at schools, community clubs, recreational clubs, and various locations throughout the year. Talks are also being offered to the public, about Singapore's shores and marine issues.

List of these activities.

International Year of the Reefs 2008

We CLEARLY have reefs! The reefs off Sisters Islands are visible on a clear water day2008 is the International Year of the Reef (IYOR), celebrated worldwide to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them.

IYOR was first declared 10 years ago in 1997 and a decade later, IYOR is back! This time, Singapore will be celebrating along with 50 countries around the world to celebrate our reefs! In fact, all the reef-loving groups in Singapore have come together to dedicate 12 months of round the year events to celebrate the amazing coral reefs we have in Singapore! All are welcome to participate in these events and to submit to the IYOR Singapore executive committee any related projects that they would like to add on the IYOR calendar of events! More details can be found in the Events section.

Stunning reefs are still found especially on undisturbed shores such as Raffles Lighthouse

Background information

The first IYOR campaign in 1997 was initiated in response to the increasing threats and loss of coral reefs and associated ecosystems, like mangroves and sea grasses. IYOR 97 was a global effort to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and support conservation, research and management efforts.

IYOR 97 proved to be very successful, with over 225 organizations in 50 countries and territories participating, over 700 articles in papers and magazines generated, hundreds of scientific surveys undertaken, and catalyzed conservation and policy initiatives, as well as numerous local and global organizations dedicated to coral reef conservation.

Recognizing that ten years after IYOR 97 there continues to be an urgent need to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and to further conserve and manage valuable coral reef and associated ecosystems, the International Coral Reef Initiative designated 2008 as the International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2008).

In the year 2008, IYOR aims to:
  • Strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Improve understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
  • Generate urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems

Participating Organisations

The Naked Hermit Crabs are a motley bunch of volunteers who share the shores with the public - and have a great time doing it too!In the spirit of the reefs, IYOR 2008 Singapore has brought together all groups, organizations and individuals concerned with our shores and coral reefs. In fact, if you have a project or know somebody who is working on a reef-related project, do get in touch with us.

IYOR 2008 Singapore
Participating Organisations

(In Alphabetical Order)

Blue Water Volunteers
A volunteer-based, marine conservation NGO that seeks to complement research activities and increase awareness of local marine habitats, such as coral reefs. We strive to achieve our aims for conservation, awareness and education through four main programmes: ReefFriends, ReefWalk, ReefTalk and ReefExhibits.

Changi Sailing Club

Cicada Tree Eco-place
Cicada Tree Eco-Place is a new non-profit non-government organisation which promotes nature, culture and eco-living through environmental education. Founded in 2007 by educators and environmentalists, Cicada Tree Eco-place will begin programs for kids (5 to 10 years old) and schools from August 2008 onwards. Called mad lessons for wildlife, these lessons will focus on animals, plants and ecology and how each of us can make a difference by lessening our carbon footprint through simple daily eco-actions.

ECO Singapore
ECO Singapore is a non-profit, non-government organization. ECO aims to establish a voluntary environmental movement, thereby creating opportunities for active involvement by Singaporean youths, instilling a sense of commitment and awareness of environmental issues and global hazards. By providing youths a holistic approach towards environmental issues, ECO Singapore’s mission is to encourage youths to take initiative and choose to live environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

Flying Manta Project

Green Drinks
Green Drinks is platform for environmentalists to discuss sustainable living and its related issues in an informal networking session over drinks. Already active in more than 230 cities, Singapore is the latest city to join the movement!

The Hantu Blog
The Hantu Blog is a non-profit, environmental awareness initiative for Pulau Hantu, an island recognised by most divers as Singapore’s most popular Southern Island, known for its sheltered and biologically diverse reefs. It is now described as a new-age NGO that utilises modern, free-media, to enhance the awareness of Singapore’s coastal and marine habitat.

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
The International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore (ICCS) is coordinated by volunteers of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research of the National University of Singapore. The programme is strongly supported by Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, Waterways Watch Society and numerous local and international schools, institutions and organisations that have battled the curse of marine litter for almost two decades. The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is an annual event conducted in 70-100 countries, coordinated by the US-based agency, The Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organisation. It aims to remove and collect data on the debris from the shorelines, waterways and beaches of the world's lakes, rivers and oceans. This information serves to educate the public on marine debris issues and to encourage positive change by submissions to governmental and international organisations that will reduce debris in waterways and enhance aquatic environments.

Ithaca (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Ithaca specializes in experiential learning methodologies for schools, community & grassroots leaders, government agencies, not for profit organizations & corporate organizations, in the field of diversity education (inter-ethnic, inter-faith education), service learning (internationally and within Singapore), leadership development, environmental education, team development, adventure education.

IUT Global Pte Ltd
IUT Global Pte Ltd is a Singapore-based niche environmental waste management company providing a comprehensive and scalable suite of waste treatment technologies & management solutions for the Asia-Pacific region. Founded by a management team with comprehensive experience in the environmental industry and extensive regional public & private sector networks to assure successful project implementation and operational support.

Keppel Group
As the Keppel Group continues to grow its businesses, it remains committed to the preservation and enhancement of the environment.

Keppel Group, together with its partners, National Parks Board, National University of Singapore and National Environment Agency, launched the first coral nursery in Singapore at a site off Pulau Semakau on 30 July 2007.

Keppel is the first private organisation to recognise the importance of a coral nursery in Singapore by contributing $250,000 over two years to support the marine conservation project. Beyond funding Keppel is also committing its expertise, resources and volunteers to support this project.

Committed to protecting the environment and improving environmental conditions, Marina at Keppel Bay, which is located on Keppel Island, is the first and only Marina in Asia to be awarded a “Clean Marina” certification by the Marina Industries Association of Australia (MIAA).

In our subsidiaries overseas, Keppel works with local and government agencies to spread the green message. In Brazil, Keppel worked with environmental consultants to minimise the impact of the dredging of Jacuecanga Bay. In Philippines, Keppel worked with the Philippine Coast Guards to clean up approximately 5km of the shoreline near the shipyard as well as sending divers to take part in an underwater clean-up of Lapu-Lapu beaches.

Keppel views the protection of the environment integral to our pursuit of sustainable growth.

Naked Hermit Crabs
The Naked Hermit Crabs are a motley bunch of volunteer guides who have come together to share our other shores through public walks. Especially those shores which are in danger.

National Parks Board
As Singapore's scientific authority on nature conservation, NParks monitors and coordinates measures to ensure the health of designated nature areas.

Nature's Niche
Seeing, Knowing, Loving. Nature's Niche specialises in nature books and nature-related merchandise.

Nature Society (Singapore)
NSS is a non-government, non-profit organisation dedicated to the appreciation, conservation, study and enjoyment of the natural heritage in Singapore, Malaysia and the surrounding region.

NIE Green Club
A group of nature enthusiasts from the National Institute of Education whom have gathered to discover more about nature together.

Planetary Coral Reef Foundation
PCRF's vision is to stop the destruction of the world's coral reefs by 2020 and restore their beauty, health and abundance within this century.

Raffles Marina

Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
and the Toddycats! Volunteers of the RMBR
Toddycats! is meant to expose, develop, enthuse and apply individuals to programmes in conservation, education and research. The programme was originally meant to provide capacity building amongst undergraduates in NUS, and to provide them with an immediate means to contribute meaningfully towards the greater good of Singapore. The programme is now open to anyone who can fit our schedule, in the recognition that all you really need is enthusiasm and commitment!

Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
RSYC is Singapore’s oldest club and leading Private Members’ yacht club. With comprehensive facilities including rooms, fine dining & swimming pool, it caters to a full range of sailing, powerboating and other sea sports. RSYC has been a pioneer of marine conservation since the ‘80s and continues to support initiatives to protect our reefs.

Roots and Shoots (Singapore)
The Roots & Shoots program is about making positive change happen—for our communities, for animals and for the environment. And it all starts with you! With tens of thousands of young people in almost 100 countries, the Roots & Shoots network branches out across the globe, connecting youth of all ages who share a common desire to help make our world a better place.

Simply Green
Simplygreen will encourage the participation of activities that will heighten the consciousness of all humans towards thinking and living green. And the appreciation of nature can be an exhilarating experience.

Singapore Environment Council
The mission of the Singapore Environmental Council is to educate, inspire and assist individuals, business organisations and environmental groups to care for and protect the environment.

Singapore Underwater Federation
The vision of the SUF are a sub-aquatic sporting lifestyle for Singapore. A professional Singaporean dive industry with world-class standards. An environmentally aware Singapore which treasures our natural heritage.

Sport Fishing Association of Singapore
The SFAS practice catch and release and among the rules are that anglers must demonstrate proper conduct and practice good fishing ethics and etiquette, and anglers are to use artificial lures or flies for sport fishing and not to use any organic baits (dead or alive) in all fishing activities.

Star Trackers
Sharing knowledge and creating public awareness regarding the knobbly seastar populations in Singapore.

Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS)
Launched on 12th July 2006, SEAS represents the interests and provides a common platform for companies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon trading, clean development mechanism projects and the financial institutions to meet, discuss, collaborate and undertake viable projects together. The Association also extends its focus to include capacity building, technology strengthening and market intelligence sourcing to assist its members in achieving sustainable growth.

Currently, the council of SEAS is made up of ten members, chaired by Mr Edwin Khew, CEO & MD IUT Global, a biomass to Energy Company. The patron of SEAS is Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and Chairman of the National Climate Change Committee (N3C). In addition, acting as advisors to the council are government agencies that include MEWR, NEA, IE Singapore, EDB, SPRING and MTI.

SEAS aims to facilitate the business of its member companies, and thus developing Singapore as the regional centre for the promotion of energy efficiency technologies and services, showcasing of renewable energy technologies, carbon asset management and trading as well as clean energy finance.

As part of International Seagrass-Watch, we are a team of volunteers from all walks of life who regularly monitor the seagrasses on Singapore's shores, gathering data that will help us better understand and manage our seagrass meadows.

Underwater World Singapore
Underwater World Singapore is a wholly owned subsidiary of Haw Par Corporation. Our mission goes beyond making our guests aware of the fascinating marine life in the oceans. Over the years, UWS has sought to raise public awareness on marine conservation issues via our exhibits, interpretive panels, enriching educational programs, as well as various breeding, rehabilitation, research and conservation projects. We deem it an important responsibility of ours, as an oceanarium, to inspire our visitors to do their part to conserve the fragile marine environment. Our newly launched conservation slogan: Blue Mission - Inspire, Educate, Conserve, represents aptly our vision and the work that we strive to do.

Volunteers desperately documenting Singapore's fragile shores before they disappear. Shoot first, ask questions later! No budget, no time and often no clue.

A one-stop location for Singaporeans who want to learn about our wild places; and do more for them. One person CAN make a difference! Simply explore, express and ACT!

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations, with a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s goal is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. More information is available on www.panda.org. In Asia Pacific, WWF envisions a regional conservation economy where economic growth supports the preservation of natural resources. By forging partnerships in Singapore, and working together with the local government, Singapore-based companies, other NGOs and the local community, WWF in Singapore aims to deliver positive and lasting change in the Asia Pacific region.

You CAN make a difference for our reefs!

Visitors exploring the reefs of Pulau Semakau with the volunteer guides of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity ResearchOne person CAN make a difference!

Simply Explore, Express and ACT!

Immediately make a difference NOW! Leave a comment in our Celebration Guestbook

EXPLORE our shores
Come for any of the guided walks provided by volunteer guides at these shores. All these events are regularly updated on the wildsingapore happenings blog

Diving Singapore

Dive Pulau Hantu with the Hantu Bloggers


Kusu Reefwalk with Blue Water Volunteers

Pulau Semakau intertidal walk
with the Semakau volunteer guides of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Chek Jawa shore walk with the Chek Jawa guides with Ubin NParks

Sentosa family tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Cyrene Reef join the "I want to go to Cyrene!" facebook group and learn about this special reef and how you can visit and make a difference for it. More details on wildsingapore


Sungei Buloh Mangrove tour, Marine Fish Tour and PrawnWatch
with the SBWR volunteer guides

Pasir Ris Mangrove tour with NParks Pasir Ris

Chek Jawa Boardwalk tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Info for visitors
More about Singapore's shores from online resources on wildsingapore

Learn more about marine issues

EXPRESS about our shores

Share what you saw on your trip with your friends and family. Bring them along to your next trip. Post your photos and stories on your blog.

Tell us about your blog or website so we can list it on this blog.

Immediately make a difference NOW! Leave a comment in our Celebration Guestbook

Leave a comment! Many ordinary people share their explorations and efforts for our shores. Here's the latest blog entries about our shores. Inspired by what they said? Excited by what they shared? Encourage them by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Enjoyed a visit to a shore? Write to the press! Write to the group managing the site or the trip. Tell your friends and family.

Give praise: Often Singaporeans will not be moved to write except to complain. If they enjoyed a visit or like a place just as it is, they do not make any noise. The result is that decisions on our wild places are often more affected by complaints than praise. So if you like something, say something!

Give feedback: The decision makers seek feedback. Give your sincere and well-thought out feedback and it will be valued and acted upon.

A good place to start is Reach (formerly the Government Feedback Channel) or email them at reach@reach.gov.sg They can also direct you to the correct people to give your feedback to. Snail mail: SLF Building, #16-01 510 Thomson Road, Singapore 298135

ACT for our shores

Don't buy reef products: Trinkets or products made from reefs. Food and medicinal products made from threatened reef animals: sea turtles, corals, seahorses, abalones, sea cucumbers, sharks' fins and more.

Know where your seafood comes from: Learn about overfishing and unsustainable seafood such as prawns, eat less of overharvested marine life, don't throw any food away.

Dispose of rubbish properly: Marine litter is a serious problem impacting our oceans and entering our food chain. Jellyfish are among the favourite food of sea turtles. Sea turtles that mistakenly eat floating plastic bags and balloons may eventually die.

Don't discard fishing nets and fishing lines in the sea. Sea turtles, dugongs and dolphins breathe air. If they are trapped in abandoned nets and fishing lines, they may drown. And we DO still have these magnificent animals in our reefs.

Be a responsible boater: Be careful when travelling near reefs and seagrass areas.

Be a responsible diver: Do not break corals or harass reef creatures.

Be a responsible tourist: Visiting a beach famous for its reefs? Support reef-friendly businesses there.

VOLUNTEER for the reefs

If you have a passion for nature, the energy and time, you can make a big difference as a volunteer. Many nature groups rely on volunteers to run their programmes. Most have activities to suit any contribution of skill, time and energy. Every contribution, large and small, short-term and long-term, can make a difference.

As a volunteer, you get to put your passion for nature into practice. You will participate in training sessions where you will learn more about our wild, natural places. Training often involves special field trips and talks by experts.

Volunteering also gives you opportunities to interact with professionals in natural sciences and nature reserve management, as well as experienced naturalists. You also get to hang out with others who share your passion. It's fun and meaningful!

Here's some current opportunities to volunteer as a nature guide, help in scientific monitoring and data collection.


Blue Water Volunteers

Semakau volunteer guides
of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS)

Chek Jawa guides with Ubin NParks

More links

Here's more links to resources

Visitors exploring Sentosa's shores with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Add YOUR reef event to the calendar!

False clown anemonefishes (better known as Nemo) are still commonly seen on our reefs!All groups and individuals are welcomed to submit reef events, activities and projects. Nothing too small or too big, too short or too long-term.

Here's all you need to do!

Just email the executive group at iyor08singapore@gmail.com the following details:

(a) Your name/your group's name
(b) Some background about yourself/your group (you may include a url link to further details)
(c) Name of your reef activity
(d) Brief details of the activity(you may include a url link to further details)
(e) Date of the activity (it is alright if your activity ends after 2008)
(f) Contact person for more details of your activity
(g) Url link to your blog/website

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Octopuses are very commonly encountered on our reefs, especially at night

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