30 September 2012

What I learnt at the TMSI Open House

The most surprising thing I learnt today is this little shrimp lives in a Giant clam! It was Mei Lin who spotted it and took this photo. Wow!
I spent a delightful day at the Tropical Marine Science Institute's Open House for staff and friends celebrating their 10th Anniversary. Where I learnt a lot about our shores and the awesome work being done for them.

There were so many people who turned up that we couldn't all squeeze into the main seminar room where the talks were being conducted. I learnt that TMSI had set up simultaneous 'telecast' of the activities in another room downstairs. Brilliant. Here we hear more about the amazing efforts that went into setting up and running TMSI! I forgot to take a photo of the beautiful cake specially prepared to celebrate the event.
There were lots of seminars and talks throughout the day. I couldn't catch all of them. I was fascinated by the many studies to learn more about our reefs and to restore them. There is great hope for our shores with the amazing work being done at TMSI.
There was a great tank set up about the work done to show how it is possible to 'replant' our barren seawalls with corals, sponges and other colourful marine life. Today, in the tank we spot a little orange spindle cowrie on a leathery soft coral!
I am never tired of looking at Mei Lin and Kareen's beautiful mama, papa and baby Giant clams! Their work on restoring these magnificent creatures on our shores is much needed.
I learnt LOTS about ascidians! Serina had set up a lovely arrangement of some of these perplexing animals in a tank and labelled all of them! One of them was most appropriately called Microcosmus exasperatus! Yes, I do find ascidians exasperating sometimes.
There were also displays of all kinds of other live animals!
I am never tired of hearing from Swee Cheng (Singapore's sponge guru), about the rediscovery of the Neptune's Cup Sponge for the first time in 100 years in Singapore's waters. Today, he shared more details about how the sponge might actually need to be reclassified, based on his close study of the specimens found in our waters.
I learnt from Nick that my favourite snack which I thought was fish on a stick, is actually jellyfish on a stick!
I learnt even more about Singapore's jellyfishes during Nick's beautifully illustrated talk.
How nice to catch up with Suryati and learn more about her work on seagrasses on St. John's Island. Suryati had also accompanied TeamSeagrass some time ago to study our seagrasses on our other shores! Thidarat Noiraksar of Thailand also shared very exciting (for me) details about the seaweeds she had found on St. John's Island. I really learnt a lot from her talk.
I learnt from Joyce more about the astounding variety of marine life that grow naturally on our jetty pilings! She focused on the stuff that grows below the low water, where I haven't gone before. So it was eye-opening for me.
I learnt from Prof Teh Tiong Sa about the extensive work being done to find out more about how rising seas will affect Singapore. But as he emphasises, the eventual outcome is a matter how how we determine baselines, and that designing in preparation for climate change can help us cope with eventual changes. But still, some of the possible outcomes can seem alarming.
Later, I learnt from Jimmy more about the cool laser thingie that is used by Prof Teh and Dr Raju in their work to find out more about how rising seas will affect Singapore.
I've always known that the folks at TMSI have a great sense of humour, and that Chee Kong is a wonderful artist.
I always enjoy his delightful cartoons! In fact, Chee Kong did many wonderful cartoons for the Chek Jawa Guidebook.
There were lots of great posters with all kinds of information and photos. I love this beautiful one done by Chee Kong about the marine life found on Beting Bronok our only Northern submerged reef. This was put up at a lovely set up with live animals from the reef.
Of course, the intrepid Director of TMSI, Prof Peter Ng is hard at work, giving an interview to Grace Chua of the Straits Times, a stalwart supporter of all news environmental. I'm sure we'll find out more about TMSI and their work in her article soon.
While we were awaiting for the ferry to go home, the exuberant young folks at TMSI took a lively group photo on the beach at St John's Island. It's great to know that such vibrant and enthusiastic scientists are hard at work on our shores.
The Mega Marine Survey was also featured at this event as TMSI is a major partner of this invaluable effort. Mega Marine Survey volunteers also helped out with outreach and giving talks during the day. More on the Mega Marine Survey blog.

Other posts about the event

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