Best of our wild blogs: 15 Oct 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [8 - 14 Oct 2012]
from Green Business Times

Damselfly (20) – Aciagrion hisopa
from Dragonflies & Damselflies of Singapore

Plant-Bird Relationship: 6. Palmae
from Bird Ecology Study Group

stork-billed kingfisher @ SBWR - OCT2012
from sgbeachbum and sandpiper & prawn dinner @ Sg Buloh Wetland Reserve - Oct2012

Skippers @ Mandai Park Connector
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

White Sea Urchin
from Monday Morgue

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Bull shark found in Sembawang dock

It had swum in there and died after water was pumped out
Grace Chua Straits Times 15 Oct 12;

WORKERS at Sembawang Shipyard were surprised to see a dead juvenile bull shark, about a metre long, when they pumped a dock dry before dawn this month.

They snapped photos and sent them to citizen journalism site Stomp.

Mr Arjun Nair, a 19-year-old technician at the shipyard, told The Straits Times his friend initially claimed he had found and killed the shark at the shipyard, and that workers later cut it up and took portions home for food.

But a spokesman for Sembawang Shipyard clarified that the shark had swum into the dock - when a ship was berthed there - and was trapped when the water was pumped out, at around 3am on Oct 3.

"When the dock was pumped dry, our workers did not know that it was a shark and thought it was only a big fish," she said. Fish are sometimes trapped in the dry dock.

The unidentified fish and other items of floating rubbish were placed into a canvas bag, which was lifted out of the dock by a crane as usual, and placed at dockside for disposal.

When the bag was opened, the workers were shocked to see that it was a shark, which by then was dead, she added.

"This is the first time in more than 40 years of docking operations that we have encountered a shark," she said.

The spokesman did not say how the shipyard disposed of the shark.

The shipyard alerted the Maritime and Port Authority, she added, in case there were other sharks in the area.

The shipyard is located on the island's northern edge.

Marine biologist Chou Loke Ming said there are sharks in Singapore waters. But sightings, mostly in the Southern Islands, are rare.

"Bull sharks are known to be aggressive," he said. "It is unlikely that there are many at Sembawang or anywhere in Singapore waters."

Bull sharks, which can grow to more than 3m in length, are native to tropical and subtropical coastal waters off Borneo, Australia and the Gulf of Thailand.

Singapore is not known for many shark attacks.

Figures from the Florida Museum of Natural History, which maintains a database of confirmed shark attacks, cite only four recorded unprovoked shark attacks here, three of which were fatal. The last fatal attack, involving a young naval diver, was in 1954.

Local nature blogger Ivan Kwan, 29, said divers and anglers more commonly encounter bamboo sharks and black-tipped reef sharks, which do not harm humans if left alone.

But he wondered what "the standard operating procedure is for these facilities when it comes to marine animals trapped in dry docks".

Said Mr Kwan: "How would the workers respond if they found a turtle, dolphin or dugong in the dry dock?"

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Orchard Road: Less of a bird street?

David Ee Straits Times 15 Oct 12;

THESE residents just refuse to be evicted. Nothing much, it seems, has prevented the mynahs of Orchard Road from calling it home.

It was reported in The Sunday Times yesterday that the latest attempt at ridding the shopping strip of the mynahs - deploying a hawk - has failed.

The mynahs have been the bane of retailers and shoppers there since 2008, drawing complaints about their droppings and the noise they make.

Ecologists and bird control specialists said the authorities might want to consider using sound waves, water or nets to disperse and trap the birds.

Removing the trees with dense crowns where the mynahs roost in the evenings may be another way.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, co-founder of the Bird Ecology Study Group, favours replacing the trees with other varieties that have sparser canopies that do not attract roosting birds.

"If they did it carefully in phases, stage by stage, it would be a solution in the long term," he said.

But that would be "an extreme solution", said Nature Society president Shawn Lum.

Replacing the existing trees may solve the mynah problem, he said, but would lessen shade cover for pedestrians and "completely change the character of Orchard Road". He asked: "Is that what we want?"

Hoisting nets high up between the trees to trap the mynahs would work, said ecologist Yong Ding Li. But he cautioned that if the stakes needed to prop the nets up were to fall, they may pose a danger to pedestrians.

Bird control firm Mastermark said sound waves would not effectively deter the birds, while a sprinkler system would inconvenience passers-by.

None of these methods is a silver bullet, said Mastermark manager Gloria Ngoi. A combination of methods to "displace and relocate the birds would be a very good option", she added.

Dr Lum, though, questioned whether the mynahs should be considered a problem at all, unless they pose a public health risk.

"Where else in the world can you go where you've got these modern, sleek buildings, and wild birds roosting outside?" he asked.

"To me, it adds to the glamour of Orchard Road."

When contacted, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said it has commissioned a study of the mynah population here, which started in June. Findings from the study will determine the next move, said a spokesman.

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Ubin a step closer to clean power

Three sites proposed for companies to test renewable energy solutions
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 15 Oct 12;

A PLAN to supply Pulau Ubin with clean, reliable and more affordable electricity has moved one step closer to reality.

The Government has selected three plots of land on the island north-east of Singapore which may be suitable for green technologies such as micro-wind turbines and solar panels.

It plans to eventually invite companies to test their clean and renewable energy solutions on those land plots.

For now, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) wants to hire consultants to study the land plots and recommend possible types of clean and renewable technologies for them.

The consultants can also propose alternate sites.

In a call for proposals this month, the EMA said the consultants' suggestions should be "sensitive" to the areas' biodiversity and aligned with the island's "rustic and natural character".

The study will also include recommending feasible business models for the clean and renewable energy technologies. The deadline for proposals is Oct 23.

The nine-month study is part of the Government's plan to supply clean, reliable and cost-competitive electricity to residents and businesses on Pulau Ubin, which is currently used for activities such as fishing, cycling and kayaking.

The 100 or so islanders currently rely on their own generators as the cost of laying cables from the mainland is too high.

Last year, the EMA announced a local consortium will build an electricity micro-grid at Pulau Ubin's jetty area to test solar power and biodiesel energy technology.

Under the contract, the consortium will provide electricity at a price of not more than 80 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), lower than the rate of $1 or more per kwh for diesel generators.

The green technologies deployed on the chosen plots of land will be hooked up to the micro-grid, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

When the whole project is up and running, the Government will assess whether it can reliably supply electricity from a micro-grid using intermittent renewable energy resources.

This will improve Singapore's smart-grid design capabilities and management of intermittent renewable energy sources, preparing it for "a future when renewable resources become more significant in our energy system", said the EMA in its tender document.

Users to Benefit from Electricity Micro-Grid on Pulau Ubin
Energy Market Authority press release 10 Oct 13;

Residents and businesses at Pulau Ubin can now enjoy cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity supply from a micro-grid incorporating biodiesel and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. This is part of an EMA test-bed to assess the impact of intermittent energy sources like solar on grid operations.

Unlike conventional power generators which can provide a steady supply of electricity, solar is intermittent in nature as the amount of energy produced is dependent on weather conditions. In other countries, the increasing use of intermittent energy sources like solar and wind has resulted in power disruptions. This challenge needs to be carefully managed to ensure reliability of supply to consumers, especially when solar forms an increasing part of Singapore’s overall energy mix in future.

Witnessing the launch of the micro-grid on Pulau Ubin, Mr S Iswaran (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry) said, “The learning points from the test-bed will help to enhance our ability to manage intermittent energy sources. It will enable Singapore to maximize the amount of solar and other forms of renewable energy we can deploy when those technologies become commercially viable. This in turn will contribute to our long term goal of diversifying our energy mix and moving towards a sustainable energy future for Singapore.”

About 30 residents and businesses have signed up for electricity from the micro-grid, built by a local consortium comprising Daily Life Renewable Energy Pte Ltd (DLRE) and OKH Holdings Pte Ltd (OKH), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SGX mainboard-listed OKH Global Ltd. An illustration of the Pulau Ubin micro-grid Test-bed is in Annex 1.

“Many Ubin residents and businesses I spoke to shared with me that they have been looking forward to this day. Instead of diesel generators, the island’s residents and businesses can now enjoy access to cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity supply.” said Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister of State for National Development and Defence, Mayor for South East District and Member of Parliament for East Coast GRC.

The test-bed also demonstrates emerging opportunities in the energy sector for Singapore companies. Mr Thomas Bon, Managing Director of OKH, added, “Both OKH and DLRE have worked closely together with government agencies, community leaders as well as the residents and businesses on Pulau Ubin, on all stages of this project. This micro-grid is a demonstration of our Singapore-based companies’ capabilities in smart grid Engineering-Procurement-Construction and will support our regionalisation plans to develop and promote Remote Area Power Utility Services as a sustainable business model.”

With the completion of the micro-grid, EMA is now exploring how other companies and research organisations could use it as a platform to develop and pilot energy-related technologies and solutions.

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