NParks rolls out activities to mark start of International Year of the Reef

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 11 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - Learn about the impact of marine trash through a hands-on workshop, visit interactive exhibits and contribute to the collection of data on Singapore's coastal ecosystem.

These are among a series of activities that will be open to the public throughout the year, as the National Parks Board (NParks) marks the start of the third International Year of the Reef.

Held every decade, the celebrations are part of a global effort to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and also the environments related to them, such as mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

NParks revealed details of its upcoming programmes in a statement on Thursday (Jan 11), while underscoring the importance of Singapore's marine biodiversity and conservation.

Activities include a workshop on Jan 27, where the public can learn about the impacts of marine trash and try their hand at microplastics analysis.

From March 10 to 18, an interactive exhibition - Our Home, Their Home - will be held at Seletar Mall, where children can join in a series of games.

NParks will also be rolling out a new citizen science programme called Beach Patrol to train volunteers to identify coastal species, such as sea turtles and horseshoe crabs, and their possible nests.

Also for the first time this year, experienced scuba divers will be able to take photos and record marine biodiversity in surveys at sites, such as the Sisters' Island Marine Park.

Such surveys will contribute to data on Singapore's coastal ecosystems, and guide long-term conservation management strategies, NParks said.

NParks National Biodiversity Centre director of coastal and marine branch Karenne Tan urged the public to join in the activities, and said: "Our marine biodiversity is our common heritage."

Singapore's coastal and marine habitats are home to a rich array of biodiversity, including more than 250 species of hard corals, which account for 32 per cent of the world's hard coral species.

There are also over 100 species of reef fish, around 200 sponge species and 12 seagrass species, noted NParks.

These habitats are spread along Singapore's northern coast and the northern offshore islands, such as Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong.

For more information on the activities, including dates and registration details, visit