Sunday, 27 September 2015

September happenings at the 'Mother Reef'

"The Sisters' Islands, home to Singapore's first marine park, are also Singapore's "mother reef" of sorts, researchers have found. The waters around the two islands are the likely source of the country's impressive coral diversity, thanks to currents which can pull coral larvae in to take root there."
New life explodes from Singapore corals during mass spawning!
Photo by Karenne Tun on facebook.
Thanks to Chiang Ai-Lien for featuring the work by researchers in The Straits Times. Volunteers were also busy in September helping out at public intertidal walks and trial dives.

From the Singapore's mother of all coral reefs by Chang Ai-Lien Straits Times 25 Sep 15; and AsiaOne

When corals at the Sisters' Islands spawn, they then migrate to St John's, Kusu, Semakau and other islands, says the National Parks Board (NParks).

When corals spawn, the eggs and sperm released into the water join to form free-floating larvae, which float in the water column until they find a suitable home, usually a hard surface they can latch on to.

What the researchers found: The country's reefs are generally well connected, with larvae able to flow freely among them. The southern Sisters' Islands, surrounded by waters with sufficiently strong current, are ideally located.

"If we can improve the reef quality, there's a good chance that corals there can spread their progeny throughout Singapore," said Dr Tun.

The currents around Singapore, however, are too strong for most larvae to enter or leave local waters.

"So for our coral reefs to survive, the system has to be self-sustaining," she explained. "We cannot depend on larvae coming in from outside our waters."

So it is apt that the Sisters' Islands Marine Park has been designated Singapore's first marine park.

Sharing the Marine Park during public intertidal walks!

In September, volunteer guides and NParks staff once again brought enthusiastic visitors on public guided walks at the Sisters Islands Marine Park.
Visitors just before the start of the public walk.
Photo by Ian Siah.

Excited about our marine life!
Photo by Lisa Lim.

Testing out the Dive Trails!

Volunteer divers also helped do trial dives at the Marine Park in preparation for the opening of the dive trails there. Here's a glimpse of what they saw, as shared on the Sisters Islands Marine Park facebook page.
Sawblade shrimp.
Photo by Stephen Beng.
Feather stars on a sea fan.
Photo by Heng Pei Yan.
A nudibranch: Glossodoris rufomarginata
Photo by Heng Pei Yan.
Another nudibranch: Cuthona sibogae
Photo by Toh Chay Hoon.
The dive trail was launched in June. The pilot dive trail will be ready for public access by end September 2015. Interested members of the public can sign up for the dive trails by contacting the list of approved operators, which will be finalised and announced on NPark's Sisters’ Islands Marine Park website. More about the dive trail by NParks.

MORE about the Marine Park

Catch up with all the happenings at the Marine Park through the Sisters' Islands Marine Park facebook page. You can share your encounters, ideas and thoughts for the Marine Park here.

Photos in this blog are from those who shared on this facebook page. Thank you!

Share your finds on the facebook group called 'Things found in Sisters Islands'.

More about guided walks at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park on the NParks website.

More about what to expect at a guided walk.

Why should I visit with an experienced and trained guide? Why are places limited on a public walk? Which other shores are accessible to the public? and more in this wildsingapore page.

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