President Tony Tan opens the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery
15 Jul 2015
New gallery provides more opportunities to learn about Singapore’s marine biodiversity
President Tony Tan Keng Yam today opened the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery on St John’s Island. This Gallery will feature the rich marine biodiversity in Singapore's waters and provide an overview of the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, including a 3D diorama of its dive trails. A seminar room and teaching lab are also provided as extensions to the Gallery. This will facilitate talks, seminars and teaching activities for school and community groups.
By end 2016, the public will also be able to observe marine organisms on display in viewing pools and a mangrove ecosystem, which is an area where mangroves can be planted under controlled conditions to facilitate experiments for research projects. A wider range of outreach programmes will also be rolled out to encourage greater appreciation of our natural heritage. This includes guided public walks at the various habitats on St John’s Island.
President Tony Tan said, “The new Gallery and Centre will offer more opportunities for the public to gain a deeper appreciation of Singapore’s marine biodiversity. As Singapore continues to develop and urbanise, it is important to involve the various segments of our society in conserving Singapore’s natural heritage for future generations of Singaporeans.”
This new public gallery serves to complement the outreach programmes at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park was announced on 12th July 2014 and serves as a platform for outreach, educational, conservation and research activities related to our native marine biodiversity. Singapore’s first Marine Park spans about 40 hectares, encompassing Sisters’ Islands and the western reefs of both St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor. Since August 2014, volunteers have led monthly public guided walks on Big Sister’s Island to showcase the marine biodiversity found on our shores. From end September 2015, dive enthusiasts will be able to explore the new dive trails off Big Sister’s Island by registering with approved dive operators. The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Dive Trails will operate with underwater signboards which serve both as station markers and underwater educational resources. Divers will also be encouraged to contribute towards the upkeep of the dive trails, for example, by helping to keep the station signboards clean using brushes provided.
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery is open daily from 10am to 2.30pm on weekdays, 10am to 3.30pm on Saturdays and 10am to 5.30pm on Sundays and Public Holidays to coincide with the timings of the regular ferry services. The public gallery is a 10 minute walk from the jetty. Regular ferry services to St John’s Island from Marina South Pier are available twice on weekdays and up to five times on weekends and public holidays.
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery will form a part of the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre, which is a partnership between the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) of the National University of Singapore.
NParks has been working closely with researchers from TMSI on marine research programmes as part of ongoing conservation efforts. Collaborative projects between both organisations include the giant clam mariculture and species recovery projects, in which these and other endangered species are grown and nurtured in the laboratory before being reintroduced back into the waters of the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. With the new Centre, closer proximity between both research teams will enable more opportunities to share relevant knowledge and expertise.
Marine eco-toxicity biomonitoring programme
Other marine-related educational programmes include the marine eco-toxicity biomonitoring programme. Six schools have signed up for the 2015 run of the three-year programme, adding on to the previous ten schools which signed up in the programme’s first year. Some 130 secondary school and JC students have participated in the marine eco-toxicity biomonitoring programme since it was initiated in May 2014. The programme has been carried out at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Punggol Jetty and may subsequently include locations along the southern coast like West Coast Park and East Coast Park.
Marine fauna subjected to pollution often become stressed and suffer from impaired body functioning. The impact of pollution on these fauna may then affect the entire ecosystem, a condition known as eco-toxicity. Filter feeders such as mussels accumulate such pollutants and toxins from the environment, which make them ideal indicators of environmental contamination. Assessing the extent of the pollutants’ impact on individual organisms thus provides an indication of the quality of their physical environment and how affected the entire ecosystem is. By carrying out physiological, behavioural and DNA tests on green mussels (Perna viridis) and other coastal organisms, students would be able to assess the health of waters in our coastal areas.
The marine eco-toxicity biomonitoring programme is part of NParks’ suite of national citizen science programmes which aim to encourage the public to learn more about our natural heritage. These programmes also provide an avenue for the public to play an active role in contributing to organised research efforts through the collection of large quantities of data. The information collected will in turn guide the development of long term conservation management strategies for various habitats.
Factsheet: Sisters' Island Marine Park