Small Sister’s Island will serve as a dedicated site for marine conservation research with facilities to promote species recovery and habitat enhancement. Curated programmes will be developed to facilitate visits for schools, institutes and organisations interested to learn about marine research and initiatives that are carried out in Singapore waters. For more information on planning these programmes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hatchery is strategically located on Small Sister’s Island, a protected area zoned for conservation and research. It consists of a turtle field station which serves as a hub for hatchery-related activities, volunteer training, as well as curated educational and research programmes. It also has an incubation sand pit area comprising three non-magnetic metal cages.
The hatchery aims to provide a conducive environment for turtle hatchlings to incubate, hatch safely and make it out to sea, with the hope that they will be able to return to the shores of the Southern Islands and mainland Singapore as adults.
NParks will assess the nests that are found along Singapore’s mainland beaches or around the Southern Islands. Nests that are laid at locations with high human traffic, in danger of predation, too close to the shoreline, or at areas that are too shallow, will be relocated to the hatchery. Nests that are not relocated will be left to incubate and hatch where they are laid. They will be protected from human disturbance and predators, and will be monitored regularly to ensure that the turtles are given the best possible chance of survival.
Rescued turtle eggs will be incubated and monitored within the cages until the hatchlings emerge. The lower quarter of the 1m3 cages are buried in the sand and will protect the incubating eggs against predators, such as monitor lizards. Each cage can hold up to four nests, and the cage covers can be fitted with shading material to regulate nest temperatures during incubation, if necessary.
The turtle field station is a building which can hold around 20 persons during training activities, and will be used by volunteers to monitor incubating nests during the turtle nesting season. It will also serve as a centre for training volunteers to conduct turtle nest surveys and basic hatchery management skills, as well as how to take vital biological measurements of hatchlings after they emerge, and guide them out to sea safely.
Members of the public can call the NParks helpline at 1800-471-7300 to report sightings of turtles on Singapore’s shores or volunteer with the Biodiversity Beach Patrol. The public should keep a safe distance away from the turtles and the eggs, refrain from shining lights at the turtles and using flash photography, and keep clear of tracks left by the turtles. Divers can upload photos of turtles’ side profiles to SGBioAtlas mobile application to help NParks monitor and track them. Facial scale patterns in turtles are akin to fingerprints in humans, and do not change much over time. The photos contributed will enable NParks to track the turtles’ movements and populations.
An in-situ coral nursery will be established within the JTC-NParks Reef Garden to safeguard hard coral species found in Singapore waters.
The purpose-built reef structures will be sunk in the waters off Small Sister’s Island by end 2018, and are expected to contribute some 1000m2 of additional reef substrate to the Marine Park.
The nursery will play an important role in the conservation of coral species, especially in view of rising sea temperatures. Corals undergo bleaching when the temperature of the waters gets too high. This means that they lose a major source of food and are more susceptible to disease and other stressors. With the creation of a coral nursery, locally rare corals that may be threatened by coral bleaching for example can be moved to a controlled environment which would help to ensure their survival.