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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Sat 18 Nov 2006

Speaking about marine life at at the Public Service Exhibition 2006

Category : talks

The National Environment Agency's outreach partners for Pulau Semakau chipped in at their booth at the Public Service Exhibition 2006 with a few talks and I had volunteered for Saturday's sessions, now at 2.30pm and 4.00pm.

As I plugged in my mac and got the nod to start talking, a group eventually gathered out of the thin air. I did have to yell against a background of loud sounds from the crowd in that semi-enclosed area, and from the very loud sounds of the MC on stage highlighting various events and attractions. His sound system made it really challenging, but I soldiered on and it turned out well in the end.

NEA has a model of Pulau Semakau, the world's first offshore landfill, on display, which I used for the talk. The talk was reasonably well received, kep to the timing, was relevant and the audience seemed happy enough.


L - Pulau Semakau model. R - mock up of the future Integrated Resort at Marina Bay at the URA booth. 31 government agencies are at the exhibition.

Besides the exciting photos and clips of marine life in Singapore, the issue of the plastics in oceans was raised, as was littering, proper waste disposal and recycling - I used the coastal cleanup data as well. NEA's Mr Loo was drawn in since has contributed sightings of otters, dolphins and other marine creatures. He and I first met when planning the first workshop for teachers on Pulau Semakau in 2000.

So I threw out my mangrove talk and decided to repeat the talk for the 4pm session. Once again we did not make an announcement from the main stage, this time because the MC could not be found. Still, there a limit to how many people would be able to hear me in the din. I did have to change my routine by using the Semakau model while my mac was restarted to reacquire the display - the projector's buttons were at just the right height for a kid's exploratory fingers and one kid did exactly that and messed up the entire setup. Interesting lesson we learnt there!

By the time it was over I was hoarse, dripping with perspiration but happy at the surprise and at times, disbelief the audience expressed when they saw and heard about the marine life in their backyard, and the data from the International Coastal Cleanup.

I was happy I had survived the sessions, and done our bit for NEA and Semakau. I also met a young graduate keen on joining Toddycats, and completed her recruitment interview during my break in between the two talks (downloaded the application form via free wireless nearby). She'll be joining our ranks soon. So a Saturday well spent!

Just maybe the next time, I'll bring along a portable mike.

Thanks to Angeline Tay and Anand Balan who packed and provided backup, drinks and lozenges; and Nanthinee J. for the photos!

Posted at 3:09PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Sat 18 Nov 2006

"Perak fish" - a new Paedocypris sp.?

Category : southeastasia

"Upbeat over 'Perak fish' find." By Audrey Dermawan.
The New Straits Times, 15 Nov 2006.

GEORGE TOWN: Biggest is not always best, sometimes the smallest can be a source of pride, and a big scientific step forward.

Malaysian scientists have found what may be the second smallest fish in the world.


NST caption - The Perak fish barely makes it past the 10mm mark.
Only one species [Paedocypris progenitica] is smaller.

A team led by Universiti Sains Malaysia's School of Biological Sciences' Associate Professor Khoo Khay Huat here discovered the fish in a peat swamp in Perak last month. They have named it "Perak fish" while awaiting confirmation of its scientific name.

Khoo said the Perak fish measures about 10mm in length and feeds on plankton.

It lives in tea-coloured swamp waters with a pH between four and five.

Japan-based United Nations University's Institute of Advanced Studies director Professor Datuk A.H. Zakri, an active environmentalist for the past 30 years, described USM's find as "very significant", saying that there are an estimated 15 million to 30 million species in the world.

"But scientists have only discovered some 1.75 million to date. This find is certainly something to be very proud of," he said at a news conference yesterday.

"We are very excited about our find," Khoo said.

Scientists from Europe and Singapore discovered the world's tiniest fish -- a species that lives in peat wetlands in Sumatra earlier this year.

The fish is just the size of a large mosquito when fully grown. The record-busting species, Paedocypris progenetica, is a distant cousin of the carp.

Mature female Paedocypris progenetica reach just 7.9mm in length, making them the smallest vertebrates yet identified by a tenth of a millimetre.

Khoo said his team would conduct a comparative study in Sumatra soon to ascertain if the Perak fish and Paedocypris progenetica have any similarities.

- NST

Earlier reports of Paedocypris sp.
posted in Raffles Museum News, listed below
You can also search Raffles Museum News to find all reports in future.

  • "Paedocypris - the world's smallest fish and vertebrate!" Raffles Museum News, 25 Jan 2006.
  • Paedocypris progenitica" By Marcus Ng. The annotated budak, 25 Jan 2006.
  • "More on Paedocypris progenitica" By N. Sivasothi. Raffles Museum News, 27 Jan 2006.
  • "So which is the smallest species of fish in the world?" By N. Sivasothi. Raffles Museum News, 02 Feb 2006.
  • "So which is the smallest species of fish in the world? (Part II)" Raffles Museum News, 04 Feb 2006.
  • "Third species of Paedocypris found in Bukit Bauk, Terengganu, Malaysia." Raffles Museum News, 29 May 2006 - New Straits Times report on the Terengganu find.

Posted at 4:38AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Sat 18 Nov 2006

Hunybunz and family collect the Pachycephalosaurus!

Category : dinosaurs

18 Nov 2006 - Hunnybunz, the mum of Loh Yih Hang and their family trooped into the Raffes Museum today to collect his Pachycephalosaurus prize from the Dinosaurs! Blog contest.

Yi Hang's blog post was kindly typed in by his mummy and he wrote about his visit, "Sue was a T-Rex." Once of the objectives of bringing down Sue was to awaken that sense of awe in little kids and awaken an interest in Science. So kids like Yi Hang were our prime target and it was especially pleasant to read the thoughts of this five year old when we were judging the contest. Aren't blogs wondeful!

I opened up the Public Gallery for them to take a short walk around. Although both parents are NUS alumni, it was a surprise to see this little gem tucked away in one corner of the university. Along the way, I did explain that school kids regularly visit us, that I speak in schools about marine life and other topics, that our volunteers participate in public exhibitions, and that we lead field trips to various places in Singapore.

But yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if the exhibit was in a large museum in town?

Hunybunz and her husband are well informed about natural history and the internet, and we ended up chatting about the museum, Sue, Chek Jawa, public interest in our nature reserves and the International Coastal Cleanup!

As they left, they encouraged us to keep up our efforts in public education - that was helpful encouragement to tackle the public talks later at Toa Payoh! Meanwhile, when Yih Hang plays with his Pachycephalosaurus, I wonder if he'll dream of dinosaurs!

Posted at 3:57AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,