18 August 2011

24 Aug (Wed): Public Lecture on "Challenge of conserving dugongs in our region"

Come for this talk by Professor Helene Marsh and Dr Elizabeth Taylor to learn how you can help discover more about Singapore’s wild marine mammals.

The dugong, the only plant-eating mammal that is strictly marine, is a threatened species that lives in the coastal waters of about 40 sub-tropical and tropical countries including south-East Asia. The cultural values of the dugong has resulted in it being a symbol of fierce conservation battles. Dugong populations are threatened by multiple global problems including coastal development, habitat loss, fisheries over-exploitation and climate change. Thus the challenge of conserving dugongs is not merely an issue of biodiversity, but an issue of cultural diversity and food security

Pilot studies by TMSI, NUS have confirmed that several species of coastal dolphins are seen quite often in Singapore waters. Finless porpoise and dugong sightings are becoming much rarer but anecdotal reports by marine biologists suggest these enigmatic marine mammals may still be found here.

The Singapore Wild Marine Mammal Survey (SWiMMS) is a research project supported by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund. MMRL’s research team aims to monitor dolphins, porpoises and dugongs in Singapore waters by establishing a volunteer network and reporting system, and by carrying out field studies. Reliable observations from South-east Asia are also welcome and will help us study whether Singapore contributes to seasonal trans-national migration routes.

About the Speakers:

Professor Helene Marsh, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science, James Cook University

Helene Marsh is Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Dean of Graduate Research Studies at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. She is an international authority on the conservation biology of dugongs, sea turtles and coastal cetaceans, and led the team that developed the United Nations Environment Programme Global Dugong Action Plan.

Dr Elizabeth Taylor, Head, Marine Mammal Research Laboratory, Tropical Marine Science Institute, NUS

Dr Taylor has worked at the National University of Singapore for almost 30 years, initially as a medical research scientist, and later, following a long-standing interest in the sea, she helped found the Tropical Marine Science Institute in 1996-98. As the Deputy Director, she was involved in all aspects of the TMSI’s research programme – science, engineering and IT - and in building the research facilities on the NUS campus and St. John’s Island. Recognising the importance of education and public outreach in promoting environmental awareness, she founded the TMSI’s Education Programme. Dr Taylor has been developing marine mammal research since the early 1990’s and continues to head the Marine Mammal Research Laboratory (MMRL) which conducts inter-disciplinary scientific research ranging from marine sensing.

More details on the JCU Singapore website

RSVP to Ms Laiza Malit at rsvp@jcu.edu.sg or call 96778868 for further information.

Time: 3-5pm
Venue: Forest Lodge Function Hall, The Singapore Zoo (80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826)
Website: http://www.jcu.edu.sg/

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