Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Friday, January 27, all gathered at the Gill Divers venue for Theory 2 of Xplore! Progam classes. This evening's tutors were the dynamic, scientific crew from NUS and TMSI, Jani Tuahibah, Loh Tse Lynn and Zeehan Jaafar - we could assemble no better a crew to bring you the topics of the evening.

Always a comfortable setting for our trainees, all keen and attentive. Alot of conversation and question occured during this tutorial, probably because of the intricacy and familiarity of the subjects to spur lots of curiosity!

We try out best to be tech-savvy. Lacking a projector, we carried out the presentation on the TV at Gill Divers. A little bit higher to reach, but still good enough for all.

Getting around our reefs: Maps, reference objects and descents. Familiarising yourself to the topography of the reef is absolutely important for a comfortable and effective dive for both you and your participants. Tse-Lyns map here even shows you where to look out for specific organisms such as nudibranchs and shrimps! Outstanding!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's Back to School!

What do I usually do on a Friday nite at about 7pm? Get ready to catch Happy Hour that's for sure. But it looks like for at least the next 4 Friday's, the routine is going to be a little bit different.

When you can show up (on time if not early) for an evening tutorial on coral reef guiding, at Tanjong Pagar (we offer no less temptations) on a Friday nite, you should already know you're on your way.

14 committed inviduals (tutors excluding) made themselves present at the first tutorial of the year and for the Reef Friend's Explore program at Gill Divers last Friday. For starters, they were going to be dealt some rather unfamiliar yet surely essential details on the social movement and expectations management. While I certainly received a few raised eyebrows and questioning glances, Q&As that ran during and after the class reflected that though new to certain topics, the would-be dive guides certainly knew what they were in for and wanted to find their paths to realisation, but there certainly was a need for some warming up as well. Though it sounds cliche, as a dive guide, being outspoken and being able to ask questions when in doubt or simply to challenge opinions is crucial in the learning process. Equally important, as Jeffrey raised in his part of the tutorial, was knowing when to say "I don't know".

A great deal of homework and an even greater deal of initiative is without question, a requirement. A fundamental aspect of being able to sustain your passion and develop it is to feed yourself the information and constantly if not frequently, expose yourself to the issue/s. You have to keep up to date, you have to know what others are doing, and you have to guess what others might do. It's not different from working the strategy of a business plan, that it another acute aspect to recognise - that though the work is voluntary, it is no less deserving of your commitment than your bread-and-butter commitments. In fact, precisely because it is a volunteer effort, even more so should you appropriately invest in that which you have decided you want to become active in.

Those were the points that I was pressed to deliver within 40 mins.

Jeffrey's part of the tutorial was to introduce coral reef ecology and coral reef conservation at large. Going by the amount of discussions that sparked during the class, this was a topic of keen interest and discovery to the participants. Ideas and opinions were tossed about and new or existing prespectives were put on trial.

Amongst the participants exists a remarkable dynamics of business professionals, scientists, divers, nature enthusiasts, or simple people who wanted to have a part in the effort to save, not just coral reefs, but Singapore reefs.

With such a strong force of nature educators and pioneers of the front in the making, the future to me and all the other tutors, looks only brighter than it has ever been before. This is a necessity, to counter the ever escalating pressures on our environment.

It was truly encouraging and personally motivating to meet all of you again, and also some new faces. I hope you will see how important your role is in the movement to safeguard our natural heritage. Imagine a future that knows no local reefs. It's not very hard to imagine, because already we are surrounded by several who are waiting to be enlightened to the fact.

Good luck and see you soon.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Best dive of 2005

Jani Tuaibah makes her best dive of 2005, and makes a new record finding while she's at it.

Click here to find out where it was...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Call to view the marine EIA for proposed reclamation works at Pulau Ular

Just posted today on the Government e-Gazette, is a notice to view the Marine environmental impact assessment report for proposed reclamation works at Pulau Ular.

Read the notice HERE

Related posts:

Shell to reclaim land around Pulau Ular, 3 Jun 2005
Parliament Report (full text): "Land reclamation at Pulau Ular", 20 Jul 2005, 3 Aug 2005
No Shell involvement, 28 Jul 2005
Harm of marine life to be minimised, 20 Jul 2005
Lend us your vocals!, 14 Jul 2005
Crack this, 12 Jun 2005
Move with us, 3 Jun 2005

Monday, January 09, 2006

Greenwave competition 2006

The Greenwave competition is open once again. Visit their webpage for more details: sembship.com/greenwave

To get an idea of the sort of entries submitted last year, see the 2005 results.

"Students are encouraged to use their ideas, knowledge, skills and values in the participation of environmental care projects, which will improve the condition and quality of our environment. articipation may be on individual basis or in groups."

There are prize awards:

1st Prize: $ 4,000
2nd Prize: $ 2,000
3rd Prize: $ 1,000

1st Prize: $ 6,000
2nd Prize: $ 4,000
3rd Prize: $ 2,000

Junior Colleges, Centralised Institutes

and ITEs
1st Prize: $ 8,000
2nd Prize: $ 5,000
3rd Prize: $ 3,000

1st Prize: $10,000
2nd Prize: $ 6,000
3rd Prize: $ 4,000

Suggestions at the webpage include:

Focus Area: Wild Life/Natural Reserves

1) Describe one regional / town park which has become the home and natural habitat for our native feathered friends. Identify one of the bird species found there and discuss how it adapted to urban development. Propose how we can have a sustainable programme of bird species in Singapore.

2) Locate and identify the officially gazetted nature reserves in Singapore. Describe one other nature area that deserves similar legal protection from urban development. Discuss its significances in the preservation of our precious flora and faunas.

3) Identify the remaining coastal mangrove forests in Singapore. Study the factors leading to their rapid depletion over last few decades and suggest schemes to conserve them.

4) Study the population and distribution or our native frogs/toads. Discuss how our rapid urbanization resulted the decline in population of one the locally endangered frog/toad. Propose ways to conserve this species.

5) Study and discuss how we can save our largest marine mammal, Dugong, from local extinction.

6) Suggest and discuss a feasible programme for the re-introduction or population restoration of one of our native mammal/feathered species. You may choose one of the following:

Lesser Mouse Deer
Banded Leaf Monkey
Oriental Pied Hornbill
Smooth Otter
Slow Loris

Monday, January 02, 2006

Man make Earth?

Biosphere II is a project involving millions of dollars and continual energy resources, in an attempt to recreate Earth's natural climatic systems such as its magroves, desserts, forests and oceans.

One of the main exhibits of this manmade closed ecological system in Tucson, Arizona, is the manmade million gallon ocean, where with the generation and production of waves, current and nutrient systems, hopes to conjure a coral reef habitat similar to that which exists in the world's tropical waters.

Since its construction in 1987-1989, this ocean project has only succeeded in generating a sparse and algae dominated system - a finding that gives little surprise to scientists.

Natural coral reefs and reef habitats are developed and maintained by an intricate and powerful system of actions and reactions. The Biosphere II project is an example of the difficulties involved in an attempt to unnaturally recreate this system on such a significant and massive scale.

Humans have long marvelled at the forces that create and maintain the Earth, and though the knowledge and capacity of being able to recreate these systems may seem like insurance, after a decade of trial, it has proved little reason or excuse to neglect efforts and reliability of conservation and preservation through sustainable living today; as the technology to build, not the Earth, but just one of its climates, will take a lifetime, if not more, to succeed.

This paper describes how the low energy (water & wave) of the system determined the community they found there now. Also interesting is the mention of mortality rates of the macrofauna (fishes, lobsters etc).

Pictures from http://www.bio2.com/

Further reading:

Island-building covers coral reefs, alters Gulf environment, 25 Feb 05

Dubai's Man-Made Islands Anger Environmentalists, 27 Oct 05