15 July 2015

Launch of the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery

Hurray! Today we launch the Sisters Islands Marine Park Public Gallery. This is located at the St. John's Island Marine Lab of the Tropical Marine Science Institute.
It was great to spend the day with friends from NParks, TMSI, volunteers of the Sisters Islands Marine Park as well as the VIPS who came to launch the Public Gallery.


St. John's Island is part of the Sisters Islands Marine Park. The western shores of St. John's Island and of Pulau Tekukor are part of the Marine Park! And rightly so, because St. John's Island is also full of amazing marine life. Here's blog posts of our past surveys at St. John's Island.
To get to the Public Gallery, just follow the bright blue footprints along the path from the St. John's Island jetty to the Tropical Marine Science Institute.
A closer look at the footprints!
A nice bracing walk up the hill and we soon reach TMSI.
Among the magnificent displays at the Gallery is a showcase of the Dive Trail at the Marine Park which were recently launched.
There are booklets to explain the Trails.
And videos showing the Trail and what marine life can be seen at the Sisters Islands.
The Gallery includes a display of some important on-going marine research and conservation work being done at TMSI and in Singapore. These include work on Giant clams and Fish Aggregating Devices with colourful displays to illustrate them.
One of the displays that I found most interesting was a study showing how Singapore's coral babies are dispersed.
This shows that the corals found in our waters from Tuas to Tanah Merah, originate mainly from Singapore parents.
These babies go all the way up to Tekong but it seems there is a natural barrier between Singapore and Indonesian reefs.
How interesting!
There is also a lovely display of all the natural habitats on Sisters Islands. Not just marine but also birds and other wildlife!
Everyone's favourite stop are the touch pools that have long been at TMSI even before the Public Gallery was set up.
Here's a closer look at some of the interesting animals in the touchpool taken by the trusty swimming camera.
We arrive well before the VIPs to prepare. Here is Koh Kwan Siong briefing the Sisters Islands Marine Park volunteer nature guides on the exhibits so they can explain them to the VIPS. With us today were Lisa Lim, Richard Kuah and Ian Siah.
Here's Lisa sharing about Sisters Islands marine habitats to the President and MOS Desmond Lee and other VIPs.
And Richard explaining some of the ongoing research to the VIPs.
Dr Lena Chan and Dr Karenne Tun share more about the Dive Trail with the VIPs.
Students from Ang Mo Kio Secondary School were on hand to share about the touch pool with the VIPs.
As this is a launch ceremony, we of course have the required ball of red ribbon for the VIP to cut.
A look closer and you will see, ours has special fishes in it!
I posted more photos of the launch on facebook here.
I had a great time at the launch. Thanks to NParks for inviting me!

From the NParks Press Release 15 Jul 15; (also on wildsingapore news)
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. 
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.

More about St John's Island and the ferry to St. John's Island on the Sentosa website.

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