"Remember Chek Jawa": an interview with director Eric Lim

Remember Chek Jawa, an independent film which took about six years to produce, shows an alternative side of urban Singapore and the congregation of the human spirit to save what is left of our natural environment.

Once destined to be put up for reclamation, Chek Jawa has won the hearts of people from all walks of life and has since averted it’s terrible fate. Through their undying determination and great efforts, the film embraces the power of human will and how one person can make all the difference. Eric Lim talks more about his experience.

Find out Eric Lim's thoughts about questions such as...

In the process of making this documentary, what were some of the difficulties you faced?

In the film, Mr Joseph Lai mentioned that “not many Singaporeans took the effort to go and find out things” which is partly the reason why Chek Jawa was only discovered recently, despite so many “nature groups and academics”. He went on to say that there is “something missing”. What do you think is this missing factor in Singapore society?

How has making this film changed you? In terms of your perception on conservation and ‘the human spirit’.

Full interview on the Sinema Old School website

See also the Remember Chek Jawa website for more about the film.

Thanks to an alert on the Singapore's Heritage, Museums & Nostalgia blog

More links

Our reefs at EnviroFest 2008 (28-29 Jun)

Learn more about our reefs and shores without getting your feet wet!

This weekend, EnviroFest 2008 brings together many environmental groups including the Hantu Bloggers, Toddycats and the Naked Hermit Crabs who will feature our marine and other natural heritage.

There'll also be a fascinating talk by Toh Chay Hoon on "Singapore shores: Got things to see meh?"

Ms Toh Chay Hoon's talk will be on 29 Jun (Sun) 2.30pm at the event. Come and find out more about shores above and underwater as Chay Hoon shares photos and stories about our wonderful marine life.

About Chay Hoon
An indefatigable intertidal explorer as well as diver, Chay Hoon has probably been to every Singapore shore that is possible to reach. She has an uncanny eye for spotting the most marvellous marinelife no matter how tiny or well camouflaged they are. An active volunteer guide on the shores of Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau, Sentosa as well as the Chek Jawa boardwalk, she also regularly dives our reefs with the Hantu Bloggers. She participates in scientific monitoring of our shores as a member of TeamSeagrass and the Blue Water Volunteer ReefFriends underwater survey programme. She is also a key member of the Naked Hermit Crabs and a pioneer member of wildfilms.

More about EnviroFest 2008
EnviroFest brings together a huge number of groups active in conservation and environmental work. This is a great opportunity to learn more about our environment and what you can do to make a difference.

The list of exhibitors include:
  • National Environment Agency
  • National Parks Board
  • Public Utilities Board
  • National Library Board
  • Sembwaste
  • Nature Society (Singapore)
  • Waterway Watch Society
  • Animal Concerns Research & Education Society
  • Raffles Museum Toddycats!
  • Cat Welfare Society
  • Naked Hermit Crabs
  • Hantu Bloggers
  • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Nature Trekker Singapore
  • Exhibits from the Asean Youth Festival Photography Competition
  • Singapore Polytechnic Environment Club
  • National Junior College Greenlink
  • Hwa Chong Institution
Time: 11 am-8 pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Amphitheatre (in front of Toa Payoh Community Library)
Website: http://www.kolamayeryouths.sg/envirofest2008/
Contact: boonwah_chan@KolamAyerYouths.sg

Other blog entries about EnviroFest

Frogfish and other low tide highlights

Another low tide and yet more amazing discoveries are made on our shores! From fat frogfishes, sublime seahorses, a rare sea snail and unknown sea anemone, to encounters with a humungous number of baby Knobbly sea stars.

Here's some of the adventures on our shores this past week.

Changi was much explored during this series of low tide. As usual, this long shore with a wide variety of habitats didn't fail to amaze. The frogfish was a surprise encounter as it's more commonly seen on our southern shores. It was large and as usual, had a rather unhappy expression.Changi's shores are simply crowded with life, from seahorses to peacock anemones and wide variety of sea stars and sea cucumbers.
Kok Sheng came across this psychedelic Sea apple sea cucumber as well as other creatures.
A strange kind of sea anemone sitting on a blade of seagrass was also seen. It's identity is still unknown. There's so much more to learn about our shores!

Before the low tides started, the Blue Water Volunteers did an underwater survey of Pulau Hantu. The visibility was an unbelievable 5-6m and besides lots of corals, the volunteers also encountered all kinds of fishes, nudibranchs and other marine life. But alas, the bloggers didn't bring cameras so there's no photos.

A small team had the pleasure of exploring Labrador with Prof Leo Tan. Labrador is very special to Prof as he succeeded in getting it declared a Nature Reserve (more about Prof Tan in today's ST article "Green Urbanites").

Although the Labrador shore has and will bear the brunt of massive reclamation works nearby, it is still alive.A strange fish was seen, possibly a kind of moray eel.
As well as a living scallop! Which clapped its valves and jetted off.Another special find was this rare snail, possibly Nerita polita, which is listed among Singapore's threatened animals.

Andy has also uploaded a whole host of amazing videos of marine life on Labrador, from a red feather star to a snapping shrimp and its goby friend.

The torrential rain and fierce lightning display on Saturday morning didn't deter a small group of determined visitors and the Naked Hermit Crabs. They managed to do a quick walk on the fascinating natural shores of Sentosa during a lull in the wet weather.
The enthusiastic visitors were enthralled by corals and other special discoveries. Alas, these shores are likely to be impacted by ongoing works at the Sentosa IR nearby.

July also shares about the importance of seagrasses and some of the marine life encountered during a public walk at Pulau Semakau during this low tide period. Pulau Semakau has one of the largest seagrass meadows that is accessible to the public.

A small team also visited Cyrene and saw lots of splendid marine life.
Sijie also shares more nudis, stars and other creatures seen on Cyrene. As well as a quick report of their observations of the Knobbly sea stars there.
"A total of 64 individuals were recorded on this trip alone. This is more than the previous two trips in May combined (62)! What's more interesting is that babies comprised more than 80% of the total number!

After some comparison, out of the 64 seen, apparently almost all of them are new individuals (not recorded from previous trips in May)! This may jolly well bring the total number of Protoreaster nodusus population in Cyrene Reef to at least a whooping 120!!

This is definitely the largest population of P. nodusus you can find in Singapore. Be it seasonal or not, this proves that this safe heaven should be preserved for the sake of all its fauna, and for all our children to see. We should not be the ones to witness the demise of this wonderful patch of reef!"
Indeed, we have amazing shores and the jewel among them is Cyrene Reef.

Come and visit Cyrene with the working team, by simply joining the blogging contest!

More blog entries of trips this last low tide, by location

Singapore's neglected heritage: Cyrene Reef as an example

Liana Tang
Straits Times 23 Jun 08

WHAT makes Singapore unique? Is it our quaint shophouses, old buildings from colonial times, antique monuments or lush rainforests?

Singapore's heritage is a hotchpotch of cultural relics and natural beauty, and efforts towards their preservation made by the authorities are laudable.

However, I must speak for our more elusive natural heritage sites that are being neglected.

Reefs, seen only underwater or at low tides, are a marine heritage unknown to many Singaporeans.

If you have ever marvelled at the panoramic spreads in National Geographic and curious animals detailed in Sir David Attenborough's travels, know that you can view the same for yourself without even leaving our shores.

One such place is Cyrene reef, a 10-minute boat ride from the mainland.

Located west of Labrador Beach, between Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island, the reef is situated in the middle of a busy shipping lane.

It remains rich in marine diversity despite its proximity to offshore refineries and other developments.

Flaunting a long sand bar flanked by lush sea-grass meadows and lagoons of coral rubble, Cyrene is home to many beautiful marine animals such as the knobbly sea star and colourful nudibranchs.

It is revealed only at low tide. So it is no wonder that the reef remains an enigma to many.

In spite of Singapore's humble size, new creatures are being discovered all the time.

In April, marine biologist David Lane discovered a species of sea star, Pentaceraster mammillatus, on Cyrene reef. It was an intriguing find as it had previously been found only in the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean.

This may be the tip of the iceberg; there could be many more marine creatures waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, Cyrene - and other reefs in the Southern Islands - are in danger of being smothered by sediment and pollutants from new developments nearby. This could mean the end of marine life on these reefs.

We painstakingly saved Bukit Timah nature reserve, a tiny patch of rainforest. We preserved a short, 300m stretch of beach along Labrador Park, our last remaining natural rocky shore on the mainland. We saved these areas so that our children may enjoy our natural heritage.

Yes, heritage buildings and national parks are important, but so are our natural reefs and rich marine life. Just because we cannot see them does not mean we can neglect them.

The writer, 24, graduated with honours in biology from the National University of Singapore.

Links to more about Cyrene Reef

5 Jul (Sat): Reefwalk at Kusu Island -- registration now open

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.

Registration now open!

Trained and enthusiastic volunteer guides will introduce you to the marine life found on Kusu Island and share reef stories.

Suitable for children.

Pre-registration is required.

Time: 5am-9am
Venue: Marina South Pier (subject to change)
Cost: $15/person
Website: http://www.bluewatervolunteers.org
Contact: reefwalk@bluewatervolunteers.org

Otters at Sungei Buloh!

Kok Sheng and friends have a close encounter with these wild Smooth otters at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve today!

Our shores are indeed very much alive! Go visit our shores and see our marine life for yourself!

Read more about Smooth otters on Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog including a video clip of the sighting!

More about the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on wildsingapore and the Reserve website.

"What do reefs mean to you?" ReefCheck photo competition

2008 Reef Check Underwater Photo Contest
ReefCheck is organising the International Photo Contest "What do reefs mean to you?" in celebration of the International Year of the Reef 2008.

The goal is to inspire people, through images, to take actions to protect reefs.

Photo submissions open July 1-August 31, 2008.

Pictures speak a thousand words
In celebration of the International Year of the Reef 2008, Reef Check is running an International “What do reefs mean to you?” Photo Contest. The contest will highlight the numerous ways in which people value their local reefs through activities such as diving, snorkeling, surfing and fishing, as well as indigenous cultural activities and commercial ventures such as tourism. The goal is to persuade people, through appreciation of these images, to take actions that benefit these ecosystems.

The Reef Check International website will host a photo gallery portal where participants, upon becoming members of the RC network, can upload photos and vote for favorites. Participants can submit entries from July 1st, through August 31st, 2008. The categories are:

Tropical coral reefs
People and the Reef
Creative Visions of Coral Reefs
Animal Behavior

California rocky reefs
Teams in Action
Indicator Organisms

Young photographer - tropical and california reefs
Beauty of the Reef

More details on the ReefCheck website

Dolphins and low tide surprises

Amazing marinelife were encountered during a dive at Kusu Island and the flurry of trips to various shores during this last low spring tide.

Dolphins are encountered twice. Pasir Ris is explored and found teeming with sand stars. And a large rare snail encountered on Changi!

Dolphins were sighted! On the way to Pulau Semakau and to Cyrene Reef, but only by the awake and eagle-eyed among the teams. The rest of us slackers missed the sightings. Sigh.

Just before the low tide started, the first ReefFriends survey of Kusu Island was conducted.Among the amazing encounters was this shrimp that lives in Bubble coral!Other sightings included feather stars, anemone fish and many kinds of nudibranchs.

This series of low tide, a few volunteers went along with the very cool Dr James Reimer a zoanthid expert, here with the lovely Liana on the way home from Cyrene Reef.
What are zoanthids? They're little flower-like animals that live in colonies and often carpet stones, rocks and even the ground under seagrasses on our shores.
Here's more about zoanthids found with Dr James on Kusu Island, Pulau Hantu, Changi and Cyrene Reef. On Cyrene Reef, Dr James found a zoanthid that he first saw in the Galapagos!

The zoanthid hunt at Pulau Hantu reveals a thriving reef.The lagoon was littered with mushroom corals of all kinds and sizes.
An amazing variety of feather stars were also encountered; red, black, and multicoloured ones.

SJ has done a wonderful summary of all the marvellous marinelife encountered during the zoanthid hunts.
Here's some of the stunning nudibranchs seen.

Pasir Ris was a shore explored for the first time by Kok Sheng and the sand star team.
The deluge did not stop them from their study of the shore, although it did dampen the mood.
Pasir Ris was teeming with sand stars of all colours and sizes and patterns.
Also encountered were large gatherings of short-spined black sea urchins!
And even a seahorse! There were also other kinds of sea stars, octopuses and more.

Changi very much alive!

Changi was also visited several times during this low tide. On the sandier portions of this long shoreline, lots of sea stars were encountered!Besides the very pretty Biscuit sea stars above, Kok Sheng and the sand star team saw possibly 8 species of sea stars on Changi! They also saw a seahorse, lots of peacock anemones and sea anemones and other wonderful marinelife there.It was also heartening to hear that a large living Bailer snail (Melo melo) was seen on Changi. The previous time a Bailer snail was seen, it was being collected by someone who was going to cook and eat it! This large snail is on the list of threatened animals of Singapore because of over-collection and habitat loss. It's such a shame to cook something that is threatened and nearly extinct on our shores.

Elsewhere on Changi, the sea fans seem to be returning in full splendour.
With large bushy red ones.
And chunky orange ones, despite the rather murky waters.
An orange sea horse was encountered.
As well as a large feather star, with a little brown brittle star (at the lower right corner of the photo). Changi is most definitely alive!

TeamSeagrass conducted monitoring sessions at Tuas and Cyrene this low tide.
Cyrene Reefs continue to fascinate with encounter such as with this frog fish.
And cowfish!

There was also a trip to Raffles Lighthouse with a fascinating look at the lighthouse and its history.

This low tide period also saw a frenzy of outreach activities including
More blog entries of trips and activities during the last low tides by location

Upcoming reef events 2-9 Jun

The conjuction of World Environment Day and low spring tide results in flood of celebrations of our reefs!

This upcoming week, there are lots of walks to various shores, as well as a talk and exhibition. Many suitable for families and kids.

There'll be walks and other activities on our shores!
Other outreach efforts include

Online Reef Seminars!

Thanks to peizee who highlighted on her blog these fabulous online seminars on the International Year of the Reef website.

These video presentation cover topics such as "How to Kill a Coral Reef", "A Role for Aquaculture in Ecological Restoration" and more.

Hip and engaging clips that inform in an easy way. Go catch a few now.

Read peizee's blog for more comments. Thanks peizee!