15 November 2015

Fun field session with the newest Marine Park volunteer guides

Introducing the newest volunteer guides of the Sisters Islands Marine Park! We a great field session last night.
We practiced our stories, got familiar with the walk route and practiced 'seeking' for special animals to share with the visitors.

It's a gorgeous breezy blue sky day as we head out for the Marine Park.
On the way in the boat, we shared stories about the places and things we saw.
Lisa also checked everyone's first aid kit (all guides should carry one).
All too soon, we arrive at the Marine Park. Uh oh, the monkeys are already waiting for us!
The wild Long-tailed macaques on the island can be quite aggressive. So it is important NOT to bring any food or plastic bags along with us on our trip. Certainly, we should NOT feed them.
One of the key activities is the safety briefing before the tours begin. After explaining how this is done, we break up into smaller groups so experienced guides can share and workshop how the public walks are done.
As guides, we should be able to talk about something almost anywhere at the Marine Park.
As soon as we land, we can see amazing marine life growing right on the pontoon at the jetty!
At the jetty, we also have a lovely view of the natural coastal forest and natural rocky shores on the island.
There are majestic trees at the Marine Park too!
Fascinating plants growing on the forested area of the Marine Park.
Like the Sea Poison with strange box-shaped fruits.
Even at the high water mark, there are things to see and talk about.
We work in small groups so as to avoid trampling and disturbing the animals.
How can we resist a selfie in such beautiful weather.
One of the jobs of the 'Seekers' is to mark out some of the interesting things that guides can bring their visitors to view.
The new guides also have a taste of the job of a 'Seeker'. The lowest tide happens after sunset and the experienced guides lead their groups towards areas which are seldom exposed. And to give tips on 'seeking', finding interesting animals to bring up to the high shore so that visitors can have a look at them without trampling the shore.
As the tide turns, we end at the high shore to have a look at how to display finds. Fortunately, on this trip, as the only 'Seeker', I managed to find some nudibranchs and interesting snails like the Spider conch. Usually, I'm really bad at finding things.
We share tips on how to display finds and share stories about our finds. As well as returning these finds to where they were found at the end of the walk. Then it was time to go home.
On the way home, everyone's really hungry at the end of a field trip. We gobble up food shared by generous fellow guides. Thank you!
On the boat, everyone is excitedly checking their photos and experienced guides are helping to identify what we saw. Meanwhile, Vincent with his injured 'crab claw' hand is still filming the goings on. He has been quietly stalking everyone throughout the trip and we can't wait to see his final video compilation of our outing.
Oh no! While I was 'Seeking' I found an abandoned fishing net on the reef.
I had a quick look and there were no trapped animals except for this one Very hairy hermit crab.
The net broke easily when I pulled at it, suggesting that it had been there for some time.
The net was tangled among corals and rocks. It was also getting dark and there were no spare hands to remove the net. So we decided to remove the net on another trip. The regular shore survey team had come across fishing nets on Sisters Islands before. More about this heartbreaking issue on Project Driftnet.
There are many threats to our Marine Park. Guided walks by passionate and knowledgeable volunteers help the public to understand and appreciate our Marine Park and Singapore's marinelife.

Mona has already shared some of what her group saw on the Sisters Islands Marine Park facebook group. Head on there to check out the latest sightings and happenings at the Marine Park!
A big thank you to all the experienced guides and NParks officers who came for every single day of the training workshop series. Special thanks to Mui Shan for taking care of the mountain of admin details!
Photo from Ian Siah.
Thanks to all the enthusiastic volunteers for making the field trip fun and a success. We shared and learned a lot from one another! Special thanks to all the facilitators and to NParks. A new batch of volunteers are now all ready to help out at the walks for the public at the Sisters Islands Marine Park.

This training programme is a collaboration among NParks, National Biodiversity Centre, The Leafmonkey Workshop, Ria Tan (wildsingapore)

More about the training programme

More information about the Sisters Islands Marine Park


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