NParks launches the first curated trail and guided walk at St John’s Island
01 Sep 2017
New exhibits at the bigger and refurbished Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery
The National Parks Board (NParks) launched the first curated trail at St John’s Island today. The 2.8 km St John’s Island Trail showcases the island’s rich biodiversity, as well as its colourful history. Free 90-minute guided tours of the trail led by trained volunteers will be organised on a monthly basis starting from October. New exhibits have also been added to the bigger and enhanced Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery on St John’s Island. Through these initiatives, the public can look forward to more opportunities to appreciate the rich biodiversity and history of St John’s Island and Sisters’ Islands Marine Park.
New St John’s Island Trail
Along the Trail are 15 stations marked out with informative signboards. The Trail starts at the entrance of the main jetty where visitors can learn more about the heritage and history of the island before passing by the small mangrove patch located at the edge of lagoon before the link-bridge to Lazarus Island. Here, visitors can admire the coastal forests with plants such as the Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa) scattered among other heavily buttressed coastal trees, and take in sights of Lazarus Island with its lush green hillock. Along the rest of the trail, visitors may spot birds such as the Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana), reptiles such as the Gold-ringed Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophila) and the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and various Heritage Trees. During low tide, visitors can walk along the intertidal flat at the lagoon and look out for the Common Sea Star (Archaster typicus), sea cucumbers, crabs and marine snails. Along the northwestern tip of St John’s Island, visitors will be able to appreciate the natural rocky shores and cliffs, and Pulau Tekukor. Beyond the sea wall of St John’s Island, thriving coral reefs can be seen around the Marine Park. These reefs are home to marine species like corals, sponges, sea stars, turtles and dolphins. The Trail also brings visitors to the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery where visitors can learn more about our local marine life.
Interested members of public can register for the inaugural 90-minute guided walk via the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park website (www.nparks.gov.sg/sistersislandsmarinepark) on 3 September, 2.00 pm. For those who would like to explore St John’s Island at their own leisure, a DIY trail e-guide is available for downloading from the NParks website (http://www.nparks.gov.sg). Free copies of the DIY trail guide are available at the Public Gallery.
New exhibits at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery
The St John’s Island Trail was launched by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, who also unveiled new exhibits at the bigger and enhanced Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery, which was opened to the public in 2015.
Among the new exhibits visitors can explore is an immersive 3D virtual reality dive experience along the coral reefs at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. They can also observe life between the tides through a mangrove mesocosm, likely one of the first of its kind in the region, where mangroves are planted under controlled conditions to mirror the natural environment as closely as possible. Besides providing an opportunity for visitors to learn more about mangrove habitats, the mesocosm will also allow researchers or schools to conduct observations or simple experiments. Another new exhibit is a viewing pool where visitors can study sea anemones, sea cucumbers, feather stars and other intertidal organisms up close. The Public Gallery will also feature aquariums for visitors to admire coral reef organisms such as sea fans, sponges and reef fish, and learn about NParks’ coral conservation efforts.
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery is open daily from 10.00am to 2.30pm on weekdays, 10.00am to 3.30pm on Saturdays and 10.00am 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 departing from Marina South Pier are available twice a day on weekdays and up to five times on weekends and public holidays.
The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery forms a part of the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre, which is a partnership between the NParks and the Tropical Marine Science Institute of the National University of Singapore.
Friends of Marine Park Community
To facilitate the community’s active participation in conserving the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, NParks has formed a new Friends of Marine Park Community, chaired by Mr Stephen Beng, Chairperson of the Marine Conservation Group under the Nature Society of Singapore. The Friends of Marine Park Community also includes representatives from various stakeholder groups such as boaters, divers, dive operators, scientists, fishers, kayakers, and education providers. The objective is to provide a platform for the various Marine Park stakeholders to play a more active role in promoting active and responsible uses of the Marine Park through ground-led programmes and initiatives. One example of ownership and stewardship is the maintenance of the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Dive Trail by dive operators. In addition, Minister Lee also announced the Chair for two new Friends of the Park communities – Mr Joseph Koh, Chairman of Nature Reserves Scientific Advisory Committee for Friends of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and Mr Tian How Ming, an NParks volunteer leader for Friends of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.