Updated Singapore Red Data book launches today

A second version of The Singapore Red Data Book, which lists endangered and threatened wildlife here, has been published here after 14 years. It features over 2,700 animals and plants which are threatened.

'If a group wanted to do an environmental impact assessment on a marine site, members would consult it. So would building developers who wanted to flatten a piece of land,'

Examples include the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and Resorts World at Sentosa which have spent millions of dollars on environmental impact assessments before planning their excavations.

Look up Singapore Red Data to preserve heritage
New version of book on threatened species can be a guide for urban planners
Shobana Kesava, Straits Times 29 Nov 08;
POLICYMAKERS and urban planners have been given an up-to-date tool to help them with urban development, while preserving Singapore's natural heritage.

A second version of The Singapore Red Data Book, which lists endangered and threatened wildlife here, has been published here after 14 years.

It features over 2,700 animals and plants which are threatened.

The first edition, spearheaded by biologists from the National University of Singapore (NUS), was meant as a guide for conservationists.

However, a co-editor of the first book, Professor Peter Ng, said government officials, the business community and civil society had turned to it as a major source of reference.

'If a group wanted to do an environmental impact assessment on a marine site, members would consult it. So would building developers who wanted to flatten a piece of land,' said Prof Ng, who is with the university's department of biological sciences, and heads the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research as well as the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Examples include the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and Resorts World at Sentosa which have spent millions of dollars on environmental impact assessments before planning their excavations.

About 50 scientists were involved in the latest effort, which took 10 years to complete. Among them, for the first time, were naturalists from the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Nature Society of Singapore.

Co-editor Dr Ho Hua Chew, chairman of the conservation committee of the Nature Society (Singapore), said it 'showed how engaged all parts of the community were in this decade-long endeavour'.

Not all local species have declined.

The Malayan porcupine, for instance, which was feared extinct, was photographed in Pulau Tekong in 2005.

Others, however, like the cream- coloured giant squirrel, last seen in 1995 in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, may be gone for good.

Dr Geoffrey Davison, who is assistant director at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre and another co-editor of the book, stressed that the fate of many of the species that still remain in Singapore would depend on the survival of the nature reserves.

The Singapore freshwater crab - which is found only here - is a case in point.

In Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, its numbers are dwindling as streams become more acidic, possibly due to acid rain, said Prof Ng.

The only other site where this crab is found is on a hill in Bukit Batok. However, the stream where it was once found in abundance is drying up as the ground water drains away because of building developments on the other side of the hill.

'It would be a waste if this species, which is found nowhere else in the world, disappears,' he said.

Editors of the new information resource hope it will help developers plan around Singapore's natural heritage.

A section on environmental law and how it should be strengthened in Singapore has also been incorporated into the new book.

Data will also be provided to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for the global Red List - which highlights species in danger the world over.

The Singapore Red Data Book, sponsored by petrochemical giant Shell, can be purchased from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at NUS, at the bookstore Nature's Niche off Mandai Road, and from the Nature Society of Singapore, for $20.

More about the launch and updates on the status of our marine life on the wild shores of singapore blog.

Singapore Waters now on YouTube

Nature Society (Singapore) Marine Conservation Group produced this slide show video with historical photos as well as current images of our shores and its marine life.

November says on her Midnight Monkey Monitory blog:

Quite an enlightening overview from past to present. And as stated in the video, all photographs were shot in Singapore so if you haven't got a chance to visit our many offshore islands yet, this is a good opportunity. Of course, we definitely can't travel back in time so even for monkeys like me, it was refreshing and enlightening. The video is based on the NSS publications of the same title, "Singapore Waters: Unveiling our seas". I'd say it's definitely worth the 10 minutes 39 seconds of your time.

More about Singapore Waters, the book, on the Nature Society (Singapore) website, with more photos and diagrams.

Including these diagrams showing our shores in the 1950s.and in 2002,
Clearly showing what we have lost.

Pink mangroves? Killer giant clams? and other questions answered

Hermit crabs "Big shell exchange"What happens when mangroves are exposed to pollution? How are hermit crabs with an empty shell like women at a shoe store? Do giant clams trap divers by clamping shut on them? And other intriguing questions about our reefs and shores were explored this past week!

What happens when mangroves are exposed to pollution?Chay Hoon blogs about Mangroves as bioindicators. She attended a Mangrove workshop conducted by Dr Jean Yong at RMBR. He had gone to Lim Chu Kang to collect some Bakau Minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) seedlings which had turned pink! The seedling is usually green, like the one on the left of the photo. Dr Yong said it's like a pregnant mother exposing to bad stuffs (eg radiation/second-hand smoking) and the baby gets affected.

How are hermit crabs and an empty shell like women at a shoe store?
Hermit crabs "Big shell exchange"
Ria blogs about hermit crabs at the Great Shell Exchange sharing more on how hermit crabs can literally sniff out empty shellls. She also explains why it's important not to take home any shells. Or to keep hermit crabs as pets.

Giant clams trap divers by clamping shut on their hands or feet!

Mei Lin our "Giant Clam Girl" blogs on this in Is this true? and dispells this misconception. In her work with them, she has found them to be very gentle creatures and she explains other reasons why this situation is impossible.

Who are these two?

Marcus blogs about the goby and snapping shrimp on Holemates and shares lots of links about the endearing relationship between these two different animals, as well as how to identify them.

How's Raffles Lighthouse reefs doing?

Jeff blogs about the recent deep transect with the results.

What happened on the City Footprints show about volunteers for our shores?

Jun did an instant review of the programme with lots of inside information.

What's new on the wildsingapore wildfacts site?

Family Cirratulidae
WORMS! With kind comments from Leslie Harris, Ria has updated flatworms, bristleworms and other worms on the wildfacts site.

What recent developments have been announced that impact on our shores?

Alas, several are listed on the wild shores of singapore

13 Dec (Sat): Kusu Island Reefwalk 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.

Suitable for children.

Pre-registration is required.

Time: 4-8pm
Venue: to be advised
Cost: $15/person
Website: http://www.bluewatervolunteers.org
Contact: reefwalk@gmail.com

Protect Singapore's mangroves and economic growth

Experts should study whether more of Singapore's mangrove forests are worth protecting under conservation laws, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday. He said the National Parks Board (NParks) and university researchers need to evaluate whether it is possible to preserve mangroves without threatening economic development.

Shobana Kesava, Straits Times 25 Nov 08;

EXPERTS should study whether more of Singapore's mangrove forests are worth protecting under conservation laws, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

He said the National Parks Board (NParks) and university researchers need to evaluate whether it is possible to preserve mangroves without threatening economic development.

Dr Yaacob was responding to questions from The Straits Times during the launch of a new book about local mangroves.

Singapore has lost 90 per cent of its mangroves since independence, and only one site has been gazetted for protection: the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on the island's north shore.

Mangroves are home to thousands of unique plants and animals, with new discoveries being made every year. But the forests are threatened by retail, industrial and housing developments.
Their role was highlighted in the book, Private Lives: An Expose Of Singapore's Mangroves (above), which was launched yesterday.

The title is a guide to the plants and animals found in the mangroves, and calls for their conservation.

Professor Peter Ng, director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute and an editor of the book, said at the unveiling that more of Singapore's mangroves need to be protected.

He noted that mangroves on the northern shores are different from those in the south.

'Rivers make the waters in the north far less salty than waters in the south, which give the plants and animals very different characteristics,' he said.

However, Professor Leo Tan, the National University of Singapore's director of special projects, who conceptualised a three-year census of marine species at Pulau Semakau, said it would be premature to pick a site for protection on the mainland.

'Sungei Buloh's 130ha is a substantial amount of land. We have to consider the large pristine sites that are already being protected in firing ranges on our southern islands.'

Dr Lena Chan, deputy director of the National Biodiversity Centre at NParks, said there are other ways to protect mangroves besides gazetting them for conservation.

'We can also designate them as nature areas, like the mangroves in Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Tekong or the mangrove in Sungei China, which was recently incorporated as a nature area within Admiralty Park,' she said.

Singapore's Mangroves: more than mud and mozzies

Only about 5 per cent of mangrove swamps are left in Singapore, but this muddy land where salt water meets fresh is a safe haven for a wealth of plants and animals, as highlighted in a new book here.
Read more about our mangroves in Mangrove's many uses: Good news, bad news, ugly truth, By Peter Ng, Wang Luan Keng & Kelvin Lim Straits Times 22 Nov 08; based on excerpts from a new book, Private Lives: An Expose Of Singapore's Mangroves.

Reef Check's Singing Contest: submit by 31 Dec 08

Sing the Year of the Reef Song on video and enter Reef Check's contest!First place - One US $1000 prize
Second place - One US $600 prize
Third place - One US $400 prize

Period for submitting your group video: 15 Sep - 31 Dec 08

Increase your chances of winning by
  • Creating a version of the Year of the Reef Song using instruments and musical arrangements, e.g. reggae, rock, or local style
  • Singing/filming at a place of meaning to your group, e.g. beach, temple, historical location
  • Dressing in attire that celebrates local culture or that represents your music genre/style
  • Singing in local language(s) or dialect(s)

During the 2008 International Year of the Reef (IYOR), help save reefs and share your creativity and culture with others by creating a video using the Year of the Reef Song. Reef Check Foundation (RCF) is running this contest with the goal of getting young people to learn more about the marine environment. In addition to having a lot of fun, you could win great prizes!

About This Contest: Three cash prizes will be awarded to the best group performances of the IYOR Song to help finance events or activities with an educational focus on the marine environment, such as a visit to a local aquarium, trip to the beach, acquisition of marine educational materials, etc.

This is an International Contest, free to enter, and groups from every part of the world are encouraged to participate. Participants must be part of a group (e.g. school, club, religious group, etc.). We will be looking for creative, original videos that reflect your culture and celebrate ocean conservation; technical video quality will not be judged.

More details on the Reef Check Singing Contest page.

6 & 7 Dec (Sat & Sun): Mangrove walk and Adventures in the Mud by Otterman at Sungei Buloh

Free guided walk plus talk plus examination of mangrove specimens!

In celebration of the anniversary of the official opening of Singapore's first wetlands reserve at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, the Raffles Museum Toddycats conduct a free guided walk for the public every year.

This year, on the 15th anniversary, we are adding an exciting talk by Otterman ("Adventures in the Mud!") as well as an examination of mangrove specimens from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research so that visitors will appreciate the morphology and adaptations of mangrove denizens!

And we will hold this over two days! The mornings of 6th (Saturday) and 7th (Sunday) of December 2008.

More details on the habitatnews blog with registration details.

Time: 7.30am-12pm on Saturday 8am-1pm on Sunday
Venue: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Website and contact: http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/

Giant clam, special stars and other low tide surprises

Our living shores never cease to surprise. This super low tide period, lots of exciting encounters during the flurry of shore by various groups. From rare clams to special stars, delightful dollars and other curious critters.

Among the special finds was this Giant clam. It was seen on Pulau Jong, an island in the middle of our shipping lanes, next to our landfill, major bunkering facilities and petrochemical plants! Mei Lin aka the "Giant Clam Girl" who was on this field trip pronounced it to be Tridacna maxima, of which only one other specimen has so far been seen, on Raffles Lighthouse!
Read all about the clam on her brand new Psychedelic Nature blog and how this clam is sadly "functionally extinct" in Singapore. The intrepid team hazarded the landing on the aptly named "No Problem". The trip was a contrast of molluscs from tiny slugs to the giant clam; lush vegetation and other special finds.

Special stars were also seen on various shores!
At Pulau Semakau, this sea star encountered seemed to be something new.
And another star that might be Pentaceraster mammilatus. This star was first discovered on Cyrene Reef and is a first record for Singapore. Semakau also seemed to have a surfeit of slugs this time around.
While at Cyrene Reef, there was the usual over abundance of Knobbly sea stars, including one WITHOUT knobs, the sand bar was teeming with Common sea stars and there was the first sighting of a biscuit sea star there. Besides amazing crabs, there were also batfish, 'Nemos' including a really tiny one, and lots more. Samuel's first trip to Cyrene inspired him to start his Aesthetic Voyager blog.

More special sea star sightings were made at mainland shores such as Pasir Ris.
Where several sea stars with more than five arms were seen.
And at Changi where a small baby Knobbly sea star was seen.
A new shore was also explored revealing special sand dollars and other surprises.

There was also a rather sad check up on the massive coastal developments and other impacts near Labrador Nature Reserve. Students also recently presented about their project on the impact of the cofferdam on Labrador shore.

Sentosa's shores was also recced for an upcoming walk by the Naked Hermit Crabs where a very obliging baby stingray gave some good video clips.

The Blue Water Volunteers also did a Kusu Island Reefwalk but have yet to blog about it.

Other events during the period includes the first Workshop for Nature Guides by the Leafmonkey Workshop.
A sporting group of nature guides had lots of fun creating and learning about echinoderms. Come for the next workshop which will be about cnidarians.

More web updates
Some upcoming reef and marine events

25 Nov (Tue): Broadcast of "City Footprints" featuring volunteers for our shores

Recently the Star Trackers and TeamSeagrass were filmed by threesixzero for the City Footprints series on Channel U.
The programme broadcasts next week, and here's the synopsis and details.

Synopsis of City Footprints Episode 11
City Footprints is a social documentary series that tells the heartwarming stories of individuals or communities in our city- stories that mirror and reflect how individuals and community responds and reacts to paradigm shifts as a result of rapid social urbanization.

A green tide is swelling as a new generation of young Singaporeans leads the next wave of environmentalism.

Meet the Star Trackers: 26-year-old Chen Sijie and his partner, Chim Chee Kong, 31, as they brave irregular tide timings and errant weather to track and monitor sea stars on Cyrene Reefs – a mysterious coral colony that only surfaces for a few hours during the low tide period each month. The two are not alone in their roles as guardians of the seas.
As early as 2005 Siti Maryam, 27, has spearheaded a campaign to conserve an overlooked slice of nature through the volunteer group TeamSeagrass. On a little-known side of Sentosa, look at how volunteers survey local sea grass habitats before pollution and pressure overwhelm them.

As the three join hands to nurture the next wave of conservationists, find out how their efforts converge on the shorelines of Chek Jawa.

Time: 9.30pm repeats 11.30pm on Channel U
Website: http://u.mediacorptv.sg/

More about the field trips filmed:
Here's Sijie explaining the Star Tracker programme on our way to Cyrene Reef, while Siti was filmed during our TeamSeagrass monitoring at Sentosa, and both Star Trackers and TeamSeagrass were filmed again at Chek Jawa during the seagrass monitoring.

6 & 7 Dec (Sat & Sun): Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Anniversary Celebrations

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve celebrates its 15th Anniversary this year. Come for an activity-filled weekend. Form a team of four with your family members and take part in the Amazing Mangrove Adventure. Stand to win attractive prizes as you learn about the vibrant biodiversity found in mangroves. Or join us for nature and photography talks, exhibitions and face painting.


Throughout the weekend: Art and Photography Exhibitions

6 Dec 08 (Sat)

  • The Amazing Mangrove Adventure: 10am, 1pm, 3.30 pm (Registration Fee of $5.00 per team)
  • Face Painting for Children: 10am-12.30pm ($2/child)
  • Free Nature talks: 10am-4pm
7 Dec 08 (Sun)
  • The Amazing Mangrove Adventure: 8am, 9am, 10.30am, 12.30pm (Registration Fee of $5.00 per team)
  • Face Painting for Children: 9am-12.30pm ($2/child)
  • Free Nature talks: 9am-5pm
  • Free Nature and Photography talks: 9am-5pm

More on how to play the Amazing Mangrove Adventure (PDF file) on the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve website.

For latest updates, please call tel: 67941401 (8.30am–6pm daily).

Venue: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Website: http://www.sbwr.org.sg/
info@sbwr.org.sg or call 6794 1401

Comet, City Mangroves and other surprises

The big event of the fortnight was the launch of the Marina Barrage, festooned with perky Water Wallies. Near the Barrage was a small patch of mangroves! A Comet blazed and lit up a recent Hantu dive, while during the not-so-low tide some shores were explored with more interesting encounters.

The intrepid Hantu Bloggers had another fantastic dive at Pulau Hantu. Sightings included new nudis and the elusive and amazing Comet! Reef Check had a session at Pulau Jong and sightings of remoras.

A quick lowish tide check of Sentosa revealed surprises including a pair of snapping shrimps in Acropora hard coral!
Meanwhile, the launch of the Marina Barrage resulted in a barrage of blog posts. With overviews of this new reservoir in the city, and discovery of a little patch of mangroves on the Marina East side of the Barrage with mudskippers, blooming trees and busy fishermen.
At the same time, there was an effort to reach Marina East from the East Coast side with some adventures along the way. There were also explorations to the other side of St John's Island and at Pulau Semakau.

Outreach for the shores

The Barrage was also the location of this year's Clean and Green Singapore launch. The young seagrassers from RGS who are monitoring Labrador meadows had a booth to share about our seagrass meadows.
Throughout the Carnival, there was also a whole range of talks about our reefs, marine biodiversity and Chek Jawa among others.

The NParks portion of the Carnival also had an interesting wall for people to leave comments about our wild places. There were some comments about our shores.

More web updates
Some upcoming reef and marine events
Some recent issues