Best of our wild blogs: 19 Sep 11

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [12 Sep - 18 Sep 2011]
from Green Business Times

Your otter sightings wanted!
from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

Wild facts updates for Sep: crabs, anemones, seaweeds
from wild shores of singapore

110918 Sunset Way morning
from Singapore Nature

Yellow Bittern from Monday Morgue

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Water quality at Pasir Ris beach improves

Channel NewsAsia 18 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE: The water quality at Pasir Ris beach has improved.

Last year's assessment by NEA showed that its water quality was deemed "fair" compared to other beaches which were rated good or very good.

But after testing the water samples for a one-year period, the agency said its quality has achieved a good rating.

Even so, NEA has advised the public against swimming at Pasir Ris beach as the water samples should be tested over a 3-year-period.

A key criteria of this grading is that not more than five per cent of the samples tested over a three-year period have enterrococcus counts greater than 200 per 100 ml.

The guidelines are based on levels of a bacteria called enterococcus, which is found in the faeces of humans and warm-blooded animals.

The improvement was attributed to PUB's efforts to phase out 33 sewage treatment plants in the Halus, Tampines, Changi and Selerang areas.

Another six of these plants located in the Changi Coast area will be phased out by the end of this year.

- CNA/fa

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JTC to study novel multi-tier oil storage idea

Study is expected to be completed by January 2012
Ronnie Lim Business Times 19 Sep 11;

(SINGAPORE) The first move was to go underground. And coming up shortly - above water. Then, it's going to be literally up in the air.

That seems to be the progressive direction for future oil and petrochemical storage projects in Singapore - given the shortage of land on Jurong Island to build any more above-ground tank farms.

Leaving no stone unturned, Jurong Town Corporation is now going to study the feasibility of having multi-tier storage tanks for oil and petrochemical products - which is a novel idea, apparently not yet in commercial use anywhere.

This comes as construction is well underway on the $890 million phase one of the underground Jurong Rock Cavern, where the first five caverns will provide 1.47 million cubic metres of storage when ready in the first half of 2013.

JTC is also expected to call construction tenders this year-end for the first floating oil storage off Pulau Sebarok, once the consultants' studies are completed on the project. The first such very large floating structure (VLFS), comprising two rectangular floating modules, is expected to offer minimum storage of 300,000 cu m, or equal to that of a very large crude carrier.

The Corporation, which has just called a tender for the study on multi-tier oil storage, said that the project is 'in line with our land optimisation and intensification efforts, and seeks to explore innovative ways to store petroleum and petrochemical products.'

A JTC spokesman added: 'The focus of this project would be to study the feasibility of stacking liquid tanks up with the aim of achieving at least 20 per cent land savings, as compared with conventional tank layout of equivalent storage capacity. We expect to complete the study by January 2012.'

Reacting to the latest JTC oil storage plan, industry players said that it was certainly revolutionary. But the bottom-line, they stress, will be its cost.

Most industry officials - whether from plant engineering and oil terminal facilities here - reckon that such a project will likely be expensive.

'The idea has been bandied about, but has not been done before,' one source said.

'Typically, the steel used to construct oil storage tanks is thicker at the bottom than at the top, so you can't just stack another tank atop the first. You'll probably need a frame (to hold the tank above),' the source added. 'So in the end, whether the idea is viable or not will depend on cost.'

Another industry source reckons that the idea may be possible with smaller storage tanks of a few hundred cubic metres capacity, such as those for petrochemicals or lubricants, with the tanks standing on a structure, much like in a tingkat or tiffin carrier.

Apart from storage by the oil majors here such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Singapore Refining Company, several independent operators including Vopak, Hin Leong-PetroChina's Universal Terminal, Emirates National Oil Company's Horizon Terminal and Chemoil's Helios Terminal also offer oil traders storage space. The latest player - and according to industry observers, possibly the last allowed on Jurong Island - is Stolt Nielsen with its chemicals storage.

But with the continuing influx of traders to Singapore's oil and petrochemicals hub, Jurong Island is still short of storage capacity, and this is reflected in the number of Singapore-based international oil traders who have resorted to using tank farms in neighbouring Johor.

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Malaysia: Maintaining Coastal Forests As A Barrier To Tsunami

Wan Shahara Ahmad Ghazali Bernama 19 Sep 11;

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- The 2004 Tsunami that originated in the Indian Ocean as a result of a massive earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra and sent huge waves crashing against the shores of 18 countries, changed the existing perception on environmental calamity.

In the wake of this catastrophe, accusations were made at the authorities for failing to prevent the loss of lives and severe damage to properties. Blames were also given for neglecting the coastal ecosystem that could have acted as a protective barrier against the giant killer waves.

However, people had forgotten the land reclamation work being carried out in the name of development. This had gone completely unchecked until the day when the world was shaken by the devastating results of the greatest Tsunami ever recorded on earth.

Last March 11, another Tsunami on an equally catastrophic scale occurred in Japan. It destroyed half of the country's north-east coast.

More than 15,000 people died while 8,000 went missing in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Worse still, 300 hospitals were damaged in the calamity, including 11 which were totally devastated.

The most frightening impact of the disaster was the nuclear crisis which attained catastrophic proportions, leading to meltdown of three nuclear reactors. Huge amount of radiation, up by at least 1,000 times the normal level, was leaked into the environment, affecting food and water sources.

Following the incident, the European Energy Commission declared that the impact of the Tsunami was similar to an apocalypse.

The world will continue to see the phenomena of Tsunamis, yet we remain unprepared for it. Although there is no defence against this catastrophe, there are ways to mitigate its impacts.


Deputy Secretary-General (Natural Resources) in Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, Datuk Aziyah Mohamed agreed that coastal forests are the best barriers against the impact of Tsunamis.

She said the R&D to boost the quantity and quality of coastal forests will turn these forests into a formidable barrier against Tsunami.

The forests, be it mangrove swamps or the conifers along the coast, reduce the impact of waves and winds that cause erosion.

The mangrove trees can trap sediments and this naturally builds up the sand embankments. The mangrove swamps are also the habitat of many of the marine life, and as such the destruction of these jungles severely affects the ecosystem.

This also has a critical impact on the nation's food resources.

"We should be thankful to have such unique features that are beneficial to the mankind," Aziyah said.


Special attention is being given by the ministry towards the conservation efforts on coastal forests, particularly the mangrove forest, by initiating a Programme To Plant Mangrove and Other Suitable Trees along the nation's coast.

The national programme was launched on April 14, 2005, in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami.

"In the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP), RM8 million from the RM40 million allocated for this programme, had been set aside for R&D activities, while under the 10MP, RM200,000 has been allocated for the programme," Aziyah noted.

In the 9MP, the national project managed to plant 5.87 million mangrove trees and other species of trees on 2,260 hectares of land nationwide.

Faced with various challenges such as vandalism, pollution and an uncertain weather, as well as strong waves that destroy the tree saplings, it has been quite difficult to guage the success of the programme.

Based on observations at 393 locations, 171 locations were reported to be successful in achieving 80 per cent tree growth, while 73 other spots achieved a growth percentage of 51-79.


Although the programme has seen a good performance on the whole, other locations could only achieve less than half the growth.

"This proves that input from R&D is crucial to help us achieve better tree growth performance," Aziyah said, adding that the planting programme posed a risk in the marshy areas and, hence, a better planting technique was required to improve the success rate.

She remarked that the programme was the result of a close cooperation between the ministry's Technical Planning and Implementation Committee (JTPP), steered by the Forestry Department, and the Committee on Research and Development (JTRD), which is chaired by FRIM.

JTRD, which comprises of researchers from FRIM, Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), undertakes studies on the best methods to revive the coastal forests' negative impact of erosion, apart from the composition, interest and commercialisation aspects of mangrove forest.


About 40 R&D research studies have been successfully carried out by the JTRD since 2005. The outcome of these were tabled at the National Seminar on R&D Projects On Coastal Mangroves in Malaysia: R&D Direction and Implementation, held at FRIM recently.

Among the research findings are the Comp-Mat and Comp-Pillow techniques for the cultivation of mangrove trees, those on stabilisation of eroded coast as well as the planting of mangrove and conifers along the Malaysian coast, apart from its issues and solutions.

Aziyah admitted that the work on conserving the coast was intricate and difficult and for this reason the ministry required a better system to pave the way for its scientists and researchers to make more meaningful contributions to the world.


In its efforts to conserve and rehabilitate the nation's coastal forests, the government has also been facing increasing demands as a result of development and population growth. As such, more coastal land is making way for housing, agriculture and farming projects among others.

"In the past two decades, some 18 per cent of the mangrove forest along the coast had to make way for development projects to meet the population and economic growth," she said.

However, the nation is still on the track of successfully implementing sustainable development through environment conservation without compromising the economy, she noted.

This is the first in the series of two articles on research of coastal forests.


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Dolphins in Malaysia: A sign our seas are full of life

The New Straits Times 19 Sep 11;

AT least 27 species of marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, porpoises and dugongs have been spotted in Malaysian waters over the years.

Marine biologist Dr Louisa Ponnampalam said the mammals were present all-year round, but because of a lack of awareness, not many people know this.

Sightings, she said, had been made in the waters surrounding Peninsular Malaysia such as the Straits of Malacca, Straits of Johor and South China Sea, as well as off Sabah and Sarawak in the Sulu and Sulawesi seas.

In fact, although the recent dolphin sightings in Kuala Sepetang have created a buzz, fishermen there say the marine mammals have been around for at least 30 years.

Speaking to the New Straits Times, Louisa said the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, where the dolphins were usually spotted, was well kept, and therefore, provided a suitable habitat for such creatures.

"Since dolphins will follow wherever their prey go, such as fish and squid, there must be an abundance of food there," said the post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences at Universiti Malaya.

The NST recently accompanied Louisa and fellow marine biologist Fairul Izmal Jamal Hisne to Perak to observe the dolphins.

Despite the heavy rain that day, they managed to catch a glimpse of the dolphins and confirmed that they were Indo-Pacific humpbacks.

The two recorded preliminary data such as water depth, water salinity, number of dolphins sighted, the dolphins' behaviour and human activity in the area.

Up to five dolphins were seen, most of which appeared to be young adults. One calf was spotted among the pod.

Louisa said more studies should be done on the dolphins in Matang as they lived in a pristine environment and much could be learned from observing them.

When asked about the dolphins' potential for promoting ecotourism in Malaysia, Louisa said it was important for sufficient research to be done first, as little was known about them.

"If we wish to promote dolphin-watching as a tourist attraction, we need to make sure that we know enough about the animal, because such activities could be detrimental to them, especially if ecotourism initiatives are not properly managed or regulated, as it could lead to the dolphins migrating elsewhere."

She also said it would be best to use small boats that were easier to manoeuvre, as well as those with quieter engines so as not to aggravate the dolphins and other marine animals.

Louisa added that people should be careful when dealing with these creatures.

"There is the common perception that dolphins are really friendly animals, but in reality, they are among the top predators in the marine food chain.

"Dolphins can be curious and playful creatures, but people need to remember that these are wild animals and should be handled with caution."

Louisa is also part of Langkawi Dolphin Research, an initiative that works with the Fisheries Department and Marine Parks Department to study dolphins and collect more information about them for conservation efforts.

She said it was important to keep tabs on marine animals because they could be used as health indicators of our oceans.

"The absence of marine animals such as dolphins, whales and turtles in an area should ring alarm bells, as it is an indicator that the area can no longer sustain them, which means that humans are in trouble as well."

Louisa said she hoped in the future, conservation efforts in Malaysia would focus not only on the protection of wildlife, but also their natural habitats as well, as the animals' survival would be reliant on the condition of their environment.

There are generally three threats to dolphins' survival -- the degradation or loss of their natural habitat, depletion of food and entanglement in fishing gear -- all of which occur as a result of human activity.

Dolphin species commonly found in Malaysia are Indo-Pacific humpback, Indo-Pacific bottlenose, Irrawaddy, Long-beaked common and Spinner dolphins.

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Malaysia: Turtle hatchery in Labuan soon

Daily Express 18 Sep 11;

Labuan: Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd (Sabah) has committed RM53,000 for turtle conservation which would see the setting up of a turtle hatchery at Pulau Kuraman, one of three islands gazetted as a marine park.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said while conservation programmes were important to help increase the turtle population, equally important were efforts to remove the many man-made challenges turtles faced for survival.

"The introduction of turtle excluder device on fishing nets is certainly good and provides turtles caught in the net a getaway opportunity.

But there is still more to be done like stopping consumption of turtle eggs and not to use cyanide for fishing," said Kurup.

He said indiscriminate dumping of plastic was another threat.

He said turtles take about 20 to 30 years to mature and faced many risks.

These reptiles have a unique ability to return to the beach where they were hatched even they had to travel thousands of miles.

According to the World Conversation Union (WCU), turtles are among the most threatened reptiles and faced extinction. There are seven species and two Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle have been recorded to land at Pulau Rusukan Besar to lay eggs.

Till August, this year, 881 green turtles and hawksbill turtles were collected from the nests and transferred to Kurman and 344 were successfully hatched.

But there still remains the question of the survival of the hatched turtles as usually a mere one percent reach maturity due to various challenges these turtles faced.

Despite the disturbing figures it is hoped that continued conservation programmes and education of the public on the importance of the eco-system, the turtle population would gradually increase and one day become an important eco-tourism product of Labuan with divers able to swim along with turtles.

Kurup said Turtle Conservation was not only to help increase turtle population but also serve as a centre for education and research and increase public awareness and provide a positive impact on the island's image.

President of Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd Datuk Abdullah Karim who represented the company to officiate at the event said though the company was involved in the oil business, it paid serious attention on preservation of marine life.

Among others present were Member of Parliament, Datuk Haji Yussof Mahal and senior Petronas Officials, Mohamad Medan Abdullah, Joseph Podtung, Saifuddin Shah Sowkkatali.

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Malaysia: Refinery complex in Terangganu not affecting turtle landings

The Star 19 Sep 11;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The ever-expanding Petronas refinery complex in Kertih, Terangganu is not affecting turtle sanctuaries in the state, said Zulkifly M. Ismail, the oil giant’s general manager for the eastern region.

He said the company and the Malaysian Nature Society carried out a joint study on turtle landings in Terengganu last year and that it showed the complex was not adversely affecting flora and fauna in the area.

”The study also showed turtle are still landing at Ma’Daerah in Kertih where expansion of the complex is taking place,” he told reporters when met an Aidifitri open house hosted by the company, government agencies and media organisations here recently.

He added that the company was also collaborating with various agencies and organisations to ensure environmental conservation around the complex. - Bernama

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