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


Made with Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.

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

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 | ,

Tue 14 Nov 2006

Sat 18 & Sun 19 Nov: Semakau and Marine Life at the Public Service Exhibition 2006

Category : talks

Public Service Exhibition 2006
At the HDB Hub Mall (next to Toa Payoh MRT Station)

Saturday 18 Nov 2006: Talks by N. Sivasothi
2.00pm: "Secrets of our sea revealed
- of sea cows, turtles and otters in Singapore."
4.00pm: "Muddy tales from the Mangroves of Singapore
- of crabs and crocs, and all you can eat!"

Sunday 19 Nov 2006: Talks by Ria Tan
1.30pm - "Semakau's Shores are Alive!
- the colourful marine life on Semakau's seashores."

The Public Service Exhibition 2006 will be held at the HDB Hub Mall (next to Toa Payoh MRT Station) from 15 Nov - 19 Nov 2006. The National Environment Agency will be featuring the Semakau Landfill and has invited the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research to contribute talk for the "Friendly Environment, Environment Friendly" cluster.

Raffles Museum Associate Ria Tan and Research Officer N. Sivasothi will be giving talks during the weekend.

Also speaking are members of the Nature Society (Singapore) and Sport Fishing Association of Singapore:

  • Saturday, 18 Nov 2006
  • 1:30 - 2:00 pm - Talk by NSS
  • 2:00 - 2:30 pm - Talk by RMBR
  • 4:00 - 4:30 pm - Talk by RMBR
  • 4:30 - 5:00 pm - Talk by SFAS

  • Sunday, 19 Nov 2006
  • 1:30 - 2:00 pm - Talk by RMBR
  • 2:00 - 2:30 pm - Talk by NSS
  • 4:30 - 5.00 pm - Talk by SFAS

For other news about Semakau, see earlier posts in Raffles Museum News

Posted at 9:08AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Wed 19 Jul 2006

A year of intertidal walks on Pulau Semakau

Category : education

16 Jul 2005 - Raffles Museum has conducted 17 Semakau intertidal/landfill walks since the islands landfill was opened for recreational activities on 17 July 2005. The walks have proved to be very popular and slots for the rest of the year have been fully booked.

A total of 625 people have attended the walks and came from public signups, schools (Yishun JC, Clementi Town Sec, CHIJ Toa Payoh, RI, AJC, Hwa Chong, Maris Stella, RJC, Bendemeer Sec, Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah), government agencies (MND, PRIS, Kampong Ubi CC) and corporate groups (HSBC).

Raffles Museum staff Wang Luan Keng who coordinates this series expresses her heartfelt thanks for the great support provided for this series by National Environment Agency staff, in particular Mr Ong Chong Peng, Mr Loo Eng Por, Mr Peter Yong, Mr Yew, Mr Poi, Shawn and Patrick.

These walks would not have been possible without the volunteer Semakau guides. Huge thanks are extended to Ria, Ron, Chay Hoon, Tiong Chin, Kah Chine, Alyce, Peter, Angeline, Siew Chin, Wai, Abigayle, Freddy, Howard, Jani and Danwei. Congratulations on accomplishing a year of discovery; well done everyone!

Walk participants commented:

The most interesting thing I learnt today is:

  • Intertidal was experiential and interesting marine/sea life.
  • That there are actually many organisms which we take for granted.
  • Things I study in book I saw it naturally and seen biologically diverse animals and plants in one place.
  • Singapore actually has quite a variety of underwater creatures (2)
  • Learnt about the landfill process (6).
  • About waste refuse management in Singapore (13)
  • The scary amount of waste Singaporeans produce and generate.
  • The rubbish at our home ends up at Semakau.
  • How to recycle useful things (2) and not to waste them
  • How a landfill actually is done and the many marine life seen at close hand
  • Nature and landfill co-exists
  • Large number of waste produced in Singapore (4)
  • Importance of recycling (the 3 Rs) and conservation (2)
  • Intertidal walk (3), experience in close encounter with the corals, sponges and crabs.
  • The landfill in Singapore to get rid of waste and the large amount of money spent by Singapore for waste.
  • Possibility of coexistence of development and environmental conservation.

What I found unique about the Semakau walk compared to other nature walks:

  • Landfill with the encounter with various corals/wildlife (4)
  • It's more interactive (3) and fun!
  • We can see marine life (not the usual living things); corals and crabs.
  • It helps me to understand better how Singapore cope with problems of waste disposal.
  • I could observe many unique animals and corals (coastal organisms) (3), in their natural state.
  • Able to walk among corals and feel the vastness of the sea.
  • We really got to experience nature and it creates awareness for us to protect them.
  • Two different world - 1) nature and 2) modern and industrial on the same island.
  • element of the government's involvement in preserving the island
  • Able to personally see unique marine creatures and gain deeper knowledge of them.
  • Semakau has an extremely beautiful coral and there were marine animals that were rare and can't be seen in other places.
  • hands-on experience where we could hold and touch the creatures.
  • talk about the background of the landfill - very educational (3)
  • A wide area of seagrass and its blue water beyond

The part of the walk I like best was:

  • I get to see and touch the things which I don't get the chance in daily life here
  • Getting a chance to get close to animals and actually feeling them which is a rare sight as we can usually only see them in textbooks
  • closer look at all marine life (10)
  • I get to see all the different species of corals so close up (2)
  • Get to see the crabs in their natural environment.
  • Among the corals near the edge of the island (4)
  • Being able to walk all the way out to the sea
  • Interactive
  • It's a classroom without walls.
  • intertidal walk (5)
  • seeing sea cucumbers, sea stars etc
  • extremely well planned, fantastic views, fascinating creatures
  • the excitement of our guide..
  • Walking in the clear water and ability to see the living creatures in it
  • Every step is where living things are found, has its own way of survival

Any other comments that will help us improve our walks:

  • lengthen the trip (3) - intertidal walk
  • It's really good already!
  • Couldn't be done better!
  • Tell us some interesting anecdotes on the background of the island or the tour, helps to make it memorable.
  • Give a talk before the intertidal walk to let us know more about the habitats and ecosystem and what to look out for.
  • The intertidal walk was fantastic and a real eye-opener. Thank you.
  • Very well organised (2) and well guided
  • Good enough! Keep it up
  • Longer please, thank you.
  • NIL. Keep smiling.
  • Keep up the good work
  • Worth every single dollar paid for. Very informative and educational
  • You guys have done a great job. Thank you.

Feedback compiled by Wang Luan Keng.

Posted at 11:29AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 14 Mar 2006

Semakau badges and Paedocypris t-shirt

Category : education

One day I walked in to the museum to find a new panerl up against the glass window at the office next to the Public Gallery office. The education officers made t-shirts and badges for sale!

The Semakau badges are on sale for $1.50 each, but a set goes for $7. The t-shirts are on sale for $10.50 and come in dark blue and grey. Toddycats and Department of Biological Science staff get a 20% discount.

Pity about the tagline though - its says "one of the world's smallest vertebrate" instead of "smallest vertebrate". Perhaps they were put off by challenges to the title, but Paedocypris progentica is clearly undisputed.



Posted at 3:47PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 07 Mar 2006

First Semakau Landfill walk in 2006

Category : education

04 Mar 2006 - Raffles Museum conducted the first Semakau landfill and intertidal walk for 2006 in the morning.

This time it was 38 participants from the HSBC Green Volunteers. These guides-in-training for Chek Jawa all turned up on time at 7.30am at West Coast Pier. They were very eager to explore the shore and well prepared for the trip, armed with booties and insect repellant!

Five Semakau volunteer guides (Ria, Ron, Chay Hoon, Elaine and Kah Chine) conducted the intertidal walk and gave the participants pointers on the guiding techniques. Some of the participants had a keen eye for the well hidden, inconspicuous creatures, and that was encouraging to see in budding guides.

The always helpful and friendly NEA staff (Shawn, Patrick, Peter and Yew) conducted the landfill tour and slide presentation with their usual enthusiatism. At the end of the day, the participants discovered for themselves that the offshore landfill island, Pulau Semakau is not dead, smelly, dirty as they thought it would be. Instead, it is a beautiful island, with mature mangroves and a vast inter-tidal area.

Here's what some participants said:

"The part of the walk I like best was the close contact with nature."

"The most interesting thing I learnt today is that nature and landfill co-exists. A landfill island can be scenic."

"Semakau is unique with its wide area of seagrass and its blue water beyond."

Posted at 7:19AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Mon 12 Dec 2005

Semakau public walk and recent sightings of marine mammals there

Category : education

03 Dec 2005 - Another public walk at Semakau landfill was organised for the public. This time a group of 10 members of the public and 10 teachers from Paya Lebar Methodists Girls went on a guided walk with 8 guides and coordinators from the Raffles Museum.

Mr Poi, a Senior Technical Officer from Semakau Landfill gave an informative slide presentation and tour of the operations of the landfill and entertained us with his exciting stories of wildlife. A few days prior to our visit (30 Nov 2005), he saw a grey dolphin and a pink-coloured dolphin swimming in the sea between Pulau Hantu and Semakau. Another piece of exciting news was two sightings of an otter reportedly the size of a small dog recorded by Mr Yew, another Senior Technical Officer, who drove us around the landfill.

Our Semakau guides (Leong Wai, Tan Tiong Chin, Ron Yeo, Daniel Chia, Toh Chay Hoon and Peter See) received lots of praises from the visitors, for their excellent guiding and friendly attitudes. Everyone was happy and relaxed.

Thanks to all the NEA staff who help facilitated our walk, Ria for coordinating and setting up the intertidal route, Priscilla for recording the walk on video and all the guides for their excellent job.

By Wang Luan Keng.


Excityed visitors getting a close look at the Knobbly Sea Star ( Protoreaster nodosus) on the exposed shoreline of Pulau Semakau.

Posted at 1:09PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 22 Nov 2005

First intertidal & landfill public visit to Pulau Semakau

Category : education

19 Nov 2005 - The Raffles Museum conducted the first Semakau landfill cum intertidal walk for 20 members of the public. They arrived at the Marine Transfer Station on Semakau Landfill (SL) in the late afternoon and were treated to a slide presentation by the General Manager of SL, Mr Ong Chong Peng. Joining us on the tour is the Chairman of NEA, Prof Simon Tay and his family, and Head of Waste Management, Mr Low Fong Hon as well as reporter from Lian He Zao Bao.

The group first took a bus ride through the operations of the landfill and reforested mangroves. Mr Loo Eng Por, the Operation Manager, gave a running commentary.

The nature walk began when eight guides and trainees led the visitors through the forest to reach the intertidal area on the eastern shoreline of Semakau.

Experienced guides, Chua Siew Chin and Loh Tse-Lynn then led smaller groups and introduced interesting plants and animals found on the intertidal area, including a huge sea cucumber! The exploration took them through the seagrass zone extending far into the distance and the coral rubble zone.

Although the tide was still low, night was slowing creeping in, and with considerable reluctance, the group turned back before it got too dark.

Thanks to Ria Tan who helped to set up markers for the trail and looked for interesting animals to highlight, Alvin from Wildfilms who recorded the entire trip on video. Our two guides, Siew Chin and Tse-Lynn for doing an excellent job, OJTs Leong Wai, Annie Giri, Laura Tham and Toh Chay Hoon who assisted the guides. NEA staff for providing the landfill tour and ferrying the group to the intertidal area. Last but not least, thanks to all those who participated in the walk.

By Wang Luan Keng,
Semakau Intertidal Walk Coordinator.

More photos on Flickr.

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Posted at 3:16AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Sat 22 Oct 2005

Semakau Workshop for trainee guides

Category : education

Posted at 3:35AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Fri 21 Oct 2005

NYGH Nanyang Environmental Science Conference

Category : talks

21 Oct 2005 - Raffles Museum's Peter Ng (Conserving Singapore: Singapore evolving) and N. Sivasothi (Conservation in Singapore - issues thoughts and action!) along with National Institute of Education's Shawn Lun (Who does nature belong to?) spoke on local and international conservation of biodiversity issues at Nanyang Girls' High School.

They were speaking at one of several concurrent plenary sessions of NYGH's Nanyang Environmental Science Conference.

The session ended with presentations by students from Raffles Institution and NYGH - their projects dealt with limpet distribution and youth awareness and attitudes towards sustainable development.

Wang Luan Keng setup an exhibition introducing Pulau Semakau's marine life in the foyer of the school where participating institutions and companies set up exhibitions.

The conference is a two day programme with a keynote, international participants and includes workshops and industrial visits.

Posted at 7:34AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

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