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More Than 100 New Records and Discoveries of Marine Species in Singapore. More Possible Discoveries from Marine Biodiversity Expedition Now Underway at Southern Islands.

27 May 2013

Singapore, 27 May 2013 - Launched in 2010, the five-year Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (CMBS) has collected some 30,000 specimens through surveys conducted in mudflats, seabeds and reef habitats. Of these, 14 species have been identified as possibly new to science, more than 80 new records for Singapore have been found and about 10 species have been rediscovered.

Dr Leong Chee Chiew, Deputy CEO of NParks and Commissioner of Parks & Recreation said, "Singapore commemorates 50 Years of Greening this year, and the survey reminds us of the significant progress we have made in conserving our natural heritage. It is very important that we continue working with the community to nurture healthy ecosystems and promote the appreciation of our rich biodiversity to future generations of Singaporeans."

Rare discoveries from the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey

One of 14 species identified as possibly new to science is the "Lipstick" sea anemone. Found in the mudflats at Pulau Ubin, this predatory animal has a distinctive red mouth and may not have been recorded anywhere else in the world. Another species identified as possibly new to science is the orange-clawed mangrove crab found in coastal mangroves and a small goby, nicknamed "Zee" found in mudflats off Lim Chu Kang.

New records for Singapore include species of jellyfish, stinging nettles, bristleworms, marine slugs, crabs, sea cucumbers, and fishes. Some crabs were also rediscovered during the survey. The zebra crab, found in the Southern islands, was last seen in the early 1960s. A rarely seen tree-climbing Nipah crab was predicted to be in Singapore 20 years ago but was not confirmed till 2012. Another interesting rediscovery is a species of large coastal catfish last seen in Singapore waters over 100 years ago.  

Prof Peter Ng, Director of NUS' Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Tropical Marine Science Institute, said, "Many small and interesting species have not been sampled or studied before, and what we now know is only a small proportion of what is actually there. The second marine expedition will survey, study and document the marine biodiversity of the Singapore Strait to help Singapore build up a strong baseline for future environmental studies. This will include, for the first time, surveying for marine life in the "Singapore Deeps" - waters exceeding 80-100 metres in depth - a habitat hitherto unsampled."

Singapore's second marine biodiversity expedition (21 May to 7 June 2013)

NParks and National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute have begun its second marine biodiversity expedition as part of CMBS. The first marine expedition, held in October last year, surveyed the Johor Straits.

The three-week expedition will carry out a biodiversity survey of reef habitats and the seabed from the shallow subtidal (5-100 m) to deeper waters (up to 200 m depth) in the Singapore Strait and the southern islands of Singapore.

Data on marine fauna are collected through scuba diving, coral brushing, hand-collecting during low tide, and using specialised equipment such as dredges, epibenthic sleds and otter trawls. Since the start of the expedition on 21 May, 12 diving, dredging and intertidal surveys have been carried out, including night coral reef surveys conducted at night. Twenty-two more surveys are planned until the end of the expedition on 7 June.

Aiding our local scientists to collect and identify specimens is a group of 25 internationally renowned scientists from 10 countries. These scientists are experts in their own field of study, with interests ranging from crustaceans, molluscs, sea anemones, seagrasses and sponges.

Many of the scientists have seen the possibilities of new findings during their previous visits, and they are here again in anticipation of making further discoveries. Refer to Annex C for the list of local and international scientists. Apart from the scientists, the expedition also involves conservation officers, nature groups and volunteers from 18 to 60 years old. In particular, the expedition will involve 50 volunteers.

Last updated on 16 July 2021

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