This weekend: talks about our reefs, marine biodiversity and Chek Jawa!

This weekend, talks on "Reefs Rock!", "Marine Biodiversity and You", "Chek Jawa: Nature Beckons" and lots of other nature and environmental topics at the Clean and Green Singapore launch at the Marina Barrage. Don't miss them!

31 Oct-2 Nov: Nature talks at Clean and Green Singapore

This just in, thanks to Lim Wei Ling, a series of nature, environmental and sporting talks at the upcoming Clean and Green Singapore launch this weekend.

31 Oct (Fri)

1800-1830hrs: "Frogs of Singapore" by Dr Leong Tzi Ming

1 Nov (Sat)

1030-1100hrs: "Cycling- The Greener Way To Go" by Joseph of Terra Outdoors

1100-1130hrs: "Organic Gardening in Urban Singapore" by Henry Yeo

1130-1200hrs: "Marine Biodiversity and You" by Siti Maryam

1230-1300hrs: "CIB- Plant Disease" by Matthew Tan

1400-1430hrs: "Let the dragons fly - showcasing dragonflies in Singapore" by Robin Ngiam

1500-1530hrs: "Reefs Rock!" by Jeffrey Low

1600-1630 hrs: "Chek Jawa: Nature Beckons" by Adelle Wang

1730-1800hrs: "Introduction to Inline Skating and Safety Etiquette" by Jason Ng of Skateline /Skate Assist Volunteer (SAV)

2 Nov (Sun)

1230-1300hrs: "Marine Biodiversity and You" by Siti Maryam

1300-1330hrs: "Going Green with Singapore's Native Plants" by Joyce Foo

1330-1400hrs: "Let the dragons fly - showcasing dragonflies in Singapore" by Robin Ngiam

1400-1430hrs: "Organic Gardening in Urban Singapore" by Henry Yeo

1430-1500hrs: "Carbon Footprint and You" by Hassan Ibrahim

1500-1530hrs: "Introduction to Inline Skating and Safety Etiquette" by Jason Ng of Skateline /Skate Assist Volunteer (SAV)

More details on the Clean and Green Singapore website

Saving the Coral Triangle

Officials from six nations and experts meet to draw up conservation plan
Alastair McIndoe, Straits Times 25 Oct 08;

MANILA: Diving in the glittering clear waters off Balicasag Island in the central Philippines, American marine scientist Kent Carpenter marvelled at the pristine coral reefs and grouper fish 'as big as Mini Coopers'.

That was in 1975. A decade later, diving in the same spot, Dr Carpenter was appalled to find the reef dead. The use of dynamite and cyanide by islanders to catch fish had turned an underwater paradise into a ghostly grey wasteland.

Divers visiting the site a few weeks ago found it in the same sorry condition, said Dr Carpenter. He added: 'And this was once one of the most beautiful coral reefs that I'd seen in over 30 years of diving.'

Blighted reefs like Balicasag are strewn across the Coral Triangle, an area of stunning marine biodiversity spanning the Philippines, eastern Indonesia, parts of Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

This expanse of ocean, called the 'Amazon of the Seas', now has one of the world's highest proportions of coral species under threat of extinction - a result of destructive fishing and coastal development, aggravated by climate change.

With the meltdown on financial markets overshadowing the debate on global warming and the environment, why worry about coral reefs right now?

Above all, because they provide a habitat for a quarter of all marine species. Research published four months ago by more than 40 leading marine scientists warned that one-third of the world's reef- building corals face extinction from local activities such as over- fishing, and climate change.

Corals are nature's buffers, protecting coastal communities from soil erosion. And they boost local economies through the tourist dollars spent on scuba-diving.

Against that backdrop, officials from the six Coral Triangle countries and marine experts met in Manila earlier this week to draw up a conservation plan. The initiative, started by Indonesia, is backed by US$450 million (S$680 million) in pledges from governments and multilateral development agencies.

'We can't afford a business- as-usual attitude any longer when the livelihoods of so many people are involved,' said Mr Syamsul Maarif, Indonesia's delegation head.

As a Philippine official put it: 'The initiative is about shared responsibilities; we're not talking about boundaries here.'

The condition of the reefs in the Coral Triangle varies considerably.

Papua New Guinea's were spared from the coral-bleaching effects of the ocean-warming El Nino weather pattern in 1997, and are still over 80 per cent intact.

But only 20 per cent of the coral cover in the Philippines is in good condition. A rapidly growing population concentrated in coastal areas has long put an intolerable strain on marine resources there.

Around 40 per cent of Indonesia's eastern-seaboard reefs are still in top condition.

It takes on average 36 years for a coral reef destroyed by pollution - from sewage discharges, for example - or dynamite fishing to repair itself naturally. Scientists have been trying to accelerate that process.

'There's been encouraging results from re-seeding experiments, but this is an expensive process,' said Dr Edgardo Gomez, a leading expert on corals.

Philippine marine scientist Perry Alino said that more reefs must be declared as sanctuaries, to give them a breather from human activity.

Two decades ago, there were only 250 such sites in the Philippines; now there are over 1,000, though they cover only 0.1 per cent of the country's coral area. The government is targeting 10 per cent coverage by 2020 under the plan.

Indonesia aims to double its current 10 million hectares of marine protected areas in its reefs in the Coral Triangle by 2020.

The conservation plan sets out national and regional actions for protecting and rehabilitating the Coral Triangle. These include setting up more reef protected areas, measures to adapt to climate change and establishing baselines for monitoring.

Leaders of the Coral Triangle countries will be asked to implement the measures at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia, next May.


'We can't afford a business-as-usual attitude any longer when the livelihoods of so many people are involved.'

Mr Syamsul Maarif, Indonesia's delegation head to a meeting which saw the Coral Triangle countries and marine experts drawing up a conservation plan for the area

Home to thousands of species
THE Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million sq km and spans the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

It is home to:
  • 75 per cent of known coral species;
  • 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs;
  • Over 600 coral species;
  • Over 3,000 fish species, including 50 per cent of tuna- spawning areas for yellow fin, big eye and skipjack;
  • Six out of eight species of marine turtle;
  • 45 per cent of the world's seagrass species; and
  • 75 per cent of mangrove species.

Related links

Coral Triangle
on the WWF website.

Highlights of the lows: corals, seagrasses and more!

As the evening low tides begin, exploration of our shores continues. There's also lots of outreach activities through public walks, as well as monitoring work for our shores.

Way before the low spring tides started, the Blue Water Volunteers conducted a reef survey of the fantabulous reefs of Raffles Lighthouse (on Pulau Satumu).
photo from HBing's memoriesWith more photos and yet more photos and video clips of clown anemonefish and sweetlips. There were also some recent media reports about Raffles Lighthouse as part of Maritime Week.

The Star Trackers and friends visited Cyrene Reef, despite all odds. As usual, lots of work got done and all kinds of marine life were encountered. This tiny gorgeous slug was found and photographed.
While a strange anemone was filmed and a Giant clam spotted.And this strange slug found on seagrass!
TeamSeagrass was also hard at work during the recent low tides. Young Seagrassers from RGS were at Labrador to check up on the seagrasses there. The Sentosa monitoring found the seagrasses doing well, and there was also a huge bloom of seaweeds there. Here's a video clip of the various marine life at Sentosa.There was a strong turn out of the Team for Chek Jawa monitoring.
It was also a chance to do a quick check on recovery on Chek Jawa especially the coral rubble area, with three baby Knobbly sea stars seen and strange behaviour observed between butterflyfish and peacock anemone.

Changi was also visited with sightings of sea stars galore and this strange sea cucumber.Elsewhere on Changi, cute worms and other creatures were seen.

When it's super low, it means there's a super high tide too. What happens at super high tide on Chek Jawa? and more about tides in Singapore.

The Blue Water Volunteers also conducted a walk at Kusu Island (but have yet to blog about it). Marcus shares a glimpse into what happens during the Kusu pilgrimage. While on Semakau there was an intertidal walk as well as the CEO Run. There was also a field trip to Sisters Island.

Other updates on our reefs and marine life
Other shore issues discussed recently

Updates on on-going works on our shores
Upcoming shore events

Sluggish on F1 day and other recent reef happenings

While F1 was going on, things were sluggish at Pulau Hantu with sightings of nudis galore, and acoel flatworms as well as a strange pipefish that had gone to the dark side.

Lots of photos shared including a video clip of a six-banded angelfish. Among the surprises were these amazing Tritonia nudibranchs.
Apparently in California, they grow to as long as 30 cm and weigh nearly 2 kg! The ones at Hantu are much smaller.

Meanwhile the Semakau guides brought a bunch of kids on the intertidal walk for Children's Day.More about their day out on the many blog posts by the various guides.

Over at Chek Jawa, the Naked Hermit Crabs also conducted the usual end of the month guided tour of the boardwalk.

TeamSeagrass had their annual get together to get updates and discuss new directions and share about the Seagrass Experience!

Things are a little slow as there are few spring lows this time of the year. But those lows are coming up soon!

New record seagrass for Singapore!

Shared on the latest Seagrass-Watch newsletter, Halophila decipiens is a new record for Singapore!

Also in the newsletter, more about the exploits of TeamSeagrass with a focus on Cyrene Reefs.

The newsletter is packed with information about seagrasses around the world, including Australia, Kuwait, the Maldvies and Papua in Indonesia. The work of TeamSeagrass in Singapore contributes to a global effort to understand and protect seagrasses everywhere.
There's also a whole section about sea cucumbers, those curious creatures we often encounter on our seagrass meadows too.

Download the PDF of the Seagrass-Watch newsletter to read the full articles!

To be a part of this effort in Singapore, simply join TeamSeagrass. More about how to join the Team.

18 Oct (Sat): Reefwalk at Kusu Island with the Blue Water Volunteers

The evening Kusu Island ReefWALKs are back.

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.

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: 5.30-9pm
Venue: to be advised
Cost: $15/person