Best of our wild blogs: 2 May 17

21 May (Sun)- Want to learn how to be a nature guide? Come join the Chek Jawa Familiarisation Tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Terumbu Semakau still alive
wild shores of singapore

Heron Allsorts

Winging It

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PSA goes high-tech and retains all its port workers

WONG PEI TING Today Online 2 May 17;

SINGAPORE — The “giraffes” that used to work continuously at PSA Corporation’s Tanjong Pagar Terminal have long been a visual cue of Singapore’s economic health.

Although the port industry was badly hit last year, today’s idle quay cranes do not tell the full story.

Those cranes are not in use because PSA is winding down its city terminals, said Ms Jessie Yeo, executive secretary of the Singapore Port Workers Union.

In spite of that, none of the city terminal’s 600 port workers were laid off because PSA had informed the union of the move months in advance, so it could train them for the new roles at the high-tech, S$2.6 billion Pasir Panjang terminal, Ms Yeo said.

About 500 workers were transferred to the new terminal, and a skeleton crew remained at Tanjong Pagar.

Even as the industry anticipates more structural shake-ups in 2021 when the mega port at Tuas becomes operational, Ms Yeo said 20 per cent of the current port workers were trained within a year to do their new jobs, which include operational know-how for automated guided vehicles — that allow the movement of cargo in the container yard without drivers.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday cited the port industry as an example of how other industries could respond to disruption, yet retain their workers.

“When the port shifted to Pasir Panjang, all jobs were kept. No jobs were lost. Workers were retrained, and quite a few of them had to take on new roles in Pasir Panjang. But they trained, they took on the new roles. They did it,” said Mr Lee.

Still, the longer-term prospects are uncertain, given the rise in competition from automated ports in Tanjung Pelapas, Port Klang, Malacca and also Yangshan in Shanghai.

Mr Lee said the PSA management and workers have been able to maintain its position as the maritime capital of the world despite the many ups and downs over the past decade because the parties involved have “stayed together”, “guarded (their) lunch” and worked hard to stay at the top.

He also commended the Port Workers Union for “being alive to the competition” and well-prepared for the future when they lobbied for the MRT network to be expanded to the far-flung Tuas port, which is still not operational.

“So long as our unions and management maintain this drive, and work closely with one another and the Government, Singapore can stay in the game ... What the port is doing, all the other industries in Singapore also can do and should do,” he added.

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Malaysia: MMEA arrests five turtle hunters

RUBEN SARIO The Star 1 May 17;

KOTA KINABALU: An ongoing intelligence gathering effort paid off when authorities stopped five men from hunting endangered sea turtles in waters off the east coast Semporna district.

Semporna Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director Maritime Lt Commander Kama Azri Kamil said the men were arrested after 25 turtle shells and more than 100kg of meat were found on their boat at about 12.50am on Monday.

He said the five men, aged between 19 and 50, are believed to be foreigners and did not have any identification documents on them.

He said the five men were detained under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment and the Immigration Act for further action.

"We are continuously monitoring activities in waters off Semporna to prevent any illegal activity there," he added.

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New coral bleaching database to help predict fate of global reefs

University of British Columbia Science Daily 1 May 17;

A research team has developed a new global coral bleaching database that could help scientists predict future bleaching events. The new database contains 79 percent more reports than previous, widely used voluntary databases.

A UBC-led research team has developed a new global coral bleaching database that could help scientists predict future bleaching events.

Until now, knowledge of the geographic extent of mass coral bleaching has been incomplete.

"We know that mass coral bleaching is happening all over the world, but the majority of events are in places in the developing world where the capacity for monitoring them is limited," said Simon Donner, associate professor in the department of geography and the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC. "But no report doesn't mean bleaching didn't happen. It could be that the monitoring resources are not available or the reefs are too remote to visit."

To build the database, the researchers scoured academic journals, government documents and other sources for reports of coral bleaching missing from an existing voluntary database commonly used by scientists. Then, they personally contacted local experts in places where they suspected coral bleaching had occurred.

So far, their database contains 79 per cent more reports than the voluntary database. The researchers also found two-thirds of the new reports show moderate or severe bleaching. Using the data, Donner and his team also created global maps showing areas where coral bleaching likely occurred between 1985 and 2010, despite the lack of previous reports.

The database will help scientists more accurately assess changes in the frequency of mass coral bleaching. It will also help predict future bleaching from ocean temperatures and allow scientists to test whether coral reefs are adjusting to rising ocean temperatures.

"If oceans continue warming at the current rate for the rest of the century, it's likely that we won't have many corals left," said Donner. "About a quarter of the ocean's biodiversity exists on coral reefs. People depend on them for food, income and protection from rising seas."

A loss of the world's coral reefs from climate change would be disastrous for people in the tropics and Donner encourages everyone to contribute to the open-source database.

"You don't even have to be a scientist," he said. "To anyone who is a diver, your citizen-scientist engagement can be valuable for us trying to understand what's happening to coral reefs around the planet."

The study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, was co-authored by Gregory J.M. Rickbeil and Scott F. Heron.

Journal Reference:

Simon D. Donner, Gregory J. M. Rickbeil, Scott F. Heron. A new, high-resolution global mass coral bleaching database. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (4): e0175490 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175490

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