Best of our wild blogs: 8 Jun 18

8 Jun: Celebrate World Oceans Day in Singapore
wild shores of singapore

A nigrescens Ashy Drongo at Punggol Waterfront
Singapore Bird Group

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Indonesia: BMKG satellites detect 78 hotspots across Sumatra

The Jakarta Post 7 Jun 18;

The Terra and Aqua satellites have detected 78 hotspots across Sumatra, indicating the possible occurrence of forest fires.

Sukisno, head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru, Riau, said the satellites detected the most recent hot spot at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday.

Based on the satellites’ images, the hot spots are spread out across Sumatra. Most were detected in Riau, with 23 hot spots, followed by Bengkulu ( 18 ), Aceh ( 10 ), Jambi (four) and West Sumatra (two). Four were detected in Jambi and one Bangka Belitung and the Riau Islands.

“The weather in Riau is cloudy with a possibility of mild rain,” Sukisno said as quoted by on Thursday.

The Riau administration previously declared an emergency for forest fires to prevent further flare ups from affecting the upcoming 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Edward Sanger said the emergency status would end on Nov.30.

“The President has instructed the National Disaster Mitigation Agency to prevent any haze disasters caused by forest fires during the Asian Games,” he said. (dpk/ebf)

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Volunteer divers remove 110kg of litter from sea around Raffles Lighthouse

Noel Low Straits Times 7 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - It was hardly diving for treasure, but when 20 volunteers emerged from the waters around Raffles Lighthouse with plastic and glass bottles, ropes and an old tyre it was a small battle won in the war against sea pollution.

The divers collected 110kg of marine litter during last Saturday's (June 2) event, organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to mark World Oceans Day, which falls on Friday (June 8).

The rubbish was sorted and brought back to mainland for proper disposal.

Data gathered on the types and sources of marine debris collected will be included in a global survey which hopes to understand and tackle the source of marine pollution.

The divers also organised a second dive to photograph the marine biodiversity in the area.

NParks and experts from community group Friends of Marine Park will then identify the different species and log them in a biodiversity database. Four categories of marine animals were documented - molluscs, echinoderms (such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers), fish and coral.

Among the volunteers was marine biologist and recreational diver Desmond Ong, 32. He said that clean-up dives have picked up traction over the past year due to an increasing awareness of marine pollution, adding: "I love the environment. This is one way for me to do my part."

He added that there was a "fair bit of trash found", despite the dive site being a relatively untouched area. "The coral reefs around Raffles Lighthouse are some of the most protected in Singapore. They are home to rich marine biodiversity", Mr Ong said.

Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA, said that keeping our waters clean is a shared responsibility. He added: "We can show the world that Singapore can be both a busy port as well as a marine environment rich in biodiversity."

The MPA deploys boats to collect rubbish from ships anchored in the port as well as floating debris along the common channels, fairways and anchorages.

Members of the public can also help during the quarterly Clean-Up on Kayak event, where volunteers remove and sort floating litter.

Diving Raffles Lighthouse: An underwater hunt for trash and treasure
Chew Hui Min Channel NewsAsia 9 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: Diving in Singapore waters is usually like jumping into a massive bowl of miso soup due to the toll that land reclamation and rapid industrialisation has inflicted on the island's reefs and seas.

Specks of sediment swirl around you and the visibility ranges from less than 1m on a bad day, to perhaps 5m on an exceptionally good day.

This particular Saturday (Jun 2), there was a downpour in the morning and we felt lucky we could see beyond our outstretched hands in the murky depths.

Twenty volunteer divers, myself included, had sailed southwest from Singapore out to Raffles Lighthouse on Pulau Satumu for an underwater cleanup and marine BioBlitz organised in conjunction with World Oceans Day, which falls on Jun 8.

The first dive involved hunting for trash; the second, for marine life, which we were to document with our cameras for experts at the National Parks Board (NParks) and community group Friends of Marine Park to sieve through, and add to NParks’ database on marine biodiversity.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been a number of such events organised in Singapore waters. This particular dive trip, organised by the Marine and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), was a little different as Raffles Lighthouse is normally a restricted area.

Other than marine biologists, who conduct their field research here, few dive at this southernmost islet in Singapore waters.

Marine biologist Neo Mei Lin, who has dived extensively in Singapore for her work, told Channel NewsAsia it was her favourite local dive site, as it has a plethora of coral.

"It is also home to numerous marine life such as a nurse shark, pink dolphins and giant clams!” she said.

But for our first dive on Saturday, we were looking for rubbish, not sea creatures. Armed with mesh bags, baskets, shears and gloves, four groups of divers scoured the reef for things that should not be there.

We picked up about 110kg of trash, comprising plastics, netting, fishing lures, ropes and more.

Mr Jeremy Seaward, a regular volunteer at MPA’s marine conservation programmes, said: “The trash that we found were mainly nylon ropes, glass bottles and fishing lines. We also saw some interesting marine life that we don’t usually see elsewhere in Singapore waters."

On the second dive, we looked for fish, sea slugs, coral, sponges and crustaceans, among other marine life. The purpose was to log as many species as possible to aid scientists in their scientific surveys.

The trick, in such low visibility, was to go slow. Then steadily, as we got used to the dimness, the reef gave up its wealth of sea creatures to our searching eyes.

A school of yellow-tailed fusiliers zipped around us as we finned, shy angelfish and damselfish darted into holes when we got close, a large grouper glared with baleful eyes from under a coral overhang and clownfish squirmed in their anemone homes.

Look even closer and you will see the colourful nudibranchs (or sea slugs), slender pipefish, translucent clingfish, pygmy cuttlefish and, at times, the wary eyes of an octopus peeking out from its hideout like periscopes.


A series of marine cleanups and BioBlitzes were started this year, the International Year of the Reef, with the aim of spreading awareness about biodiversity in Singapore waters and conservation of the environment.

MPA is organising multiple marine cleanups this year, to collect trash underwater and to pick up surface flotsam from kayaks. The BioBlitzes organised by NParks were also started this year.

NParks has also rolled out a new citizen science programme called Beach Patrol where volunteers help look out for certain species along Singapore’s shores, such as sea turtles and their nests, and horseshoe crabs.

For some of their cleanups, MPA works with community group Our Singapore Reefs, which organised Singapore's first community-led underwater cleanup effort in July last year.

Started by marine biologists Sam Shu Qin and Toh Tai Chong, it now works with various partners to run regular cleanups and conservation activities. It has also gathered volunteers to clean up the reefs at the Sisters' Island Marine Park on Sunday.

Besides these efforts, a community group started by Mr Lim Teck Koon, 31, also holds monthly marine and beach cleanups at Lazarus Island, where they have picked up between 100kg and 200kg of trash each time.

Mr Lim started the group, named Small Change, in April 2017 and organised their first cleanup last October. Boat owners have lent their vessels to the group at no cost.

“We pick up lots of plastic cups which are likely from the party boats. The beach clean-up team usually picks up lots of plastic bags and food packaging,” he said.


Underwater photography enthusiasts have also been actively promoting local dive sites such as the reefs at Pulau Hantu, right by the oil refineries of Pulau Bukom.

Mr Kelvin Pung, 40, started the Sg Underwater Macro Photographers Facebook group in 2016 along with Dr An Ng, a former Hantu regular. Mr Pung started diving in Indonesian waters but is now hooked on local diving.

“I dived into Hantu without expectation, but I saw so many nudibranchs I had never seen in my first two years of diving," he said.

While there are no manta rays and a turtle sighting is rare and momentous, there are many tiny gems in local waters, in particular, a large variety of luridly-decorated nudibranchs, which are manna to the underwater photographers.

“Our shores are under-appreciated. Our goal is to discover more new species and photograph them then show it to everyone, create awareness for local diving,” Mr Pung, who is also a para-badminton coach, said.

He hopes that this increased awareness will boost the local scuba diving industry and preserve Pulau Hantu from future reclamation.

Many regulars sign up for trips via another Facebook group, the quirkily named Weird Divers@Singapore. There are now about 100 active divers in the group, according to Mr Pung.

Their effort to dispel the notion that there's "nothing to see" in Singapore waters appears to be gaining some traction.

According to Mr Francis Yeo, who has been running dive operations in Singapore for 25 years, there has been a small surge in interest recently.

He was pleasantly surprised to have dozens of new divers signing up for local dive trips on the Dolphin Explorer, the only large-sized dive boat that takes divers out to local waters regularly.

According to NParks, there is much life yet on our shores and beneath the waves.

“We have seen improvements in our coastal and marine habitats, despite Singapore’s busy waters,” said Dr Karenne Tun, director (coastal & marine) of NPark’s National Biodiversity Centre.

For example, the corals here have shown signs of recovering from coral bleaching events that happened in 1998, 2010 and 2016, she added.

Source: CNA/hm

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Fogging not very effective, says dengue expert

Fght against dengue needs newer methods
LINETTE LAI The New Paper 8 Jun 18;

Mosquito fogging may look like the authorities are cracking down on the airborne pests but it is not actually very effective, dengue expert Duane Gubler said yesterday.

Professor Gubler added that countries need to move away from such "easy approaches" and examine newer methods with more potential, such as introducing sterilised mosquitoes and using new pesticide compounds.

"It doesn't mean we won't spray," said Prof Gubler, who chairs Singapore's Dengue Expert Advisory Panel and is founding director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School.

"There will continue to be a place for spraying... What we have to do is get away from the easy approach of spraying and find out what really works."

He was speaking at a conference organised to commemorate Asean Dengue Day on June 15. The conference, which ends tomorrow, drew 150 participants from 24 countries.

They are discussing pest control methods and how well pilot projects to reduce the mosquito population have fared.

The National Environment Agency has pointed out previously that the "severe limitation" of mosquito fogging is that it also kills insects that prey on mosquitoes.

It also noted that outdoor fogging and indoor spraying and misting are effective only if the chemicals come into direct contact with the mosquitoes.

"Thus, (they) have to be repeated frequently as new batches of mosquitoes will continue to emerge until all breeding habitats are found and removed," it said.

Dengue numbers have remained relatively low since the start of last year, with fewer than 100 new cases a week.

There were 2,772 dengue cases reported for the whole of last year. In comparison, during Singapore's worst dengue epidemic in 2013, more than 22,000 people were infected.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told the conference: "This is a never-ending war... To keep winning this war, we must innovate, invest in new technology, and collaborate and share knowledge."

He also stressed that the general public must be "continually alert".

1,113 dengue cases reported so far this year
Singapore's two largest dengue clusters are in the east, with one in the Bedok North area responsible for 64 cases.

A smaller one of 11 cases is in Tampines, with 10 other clusters scattered across the island, each with fewer than 10 dengue victims.

A cluster refers to at least two cases reported within 150m of each other over a two-week period.

There have been 1,113 dengue cases reported so far this year, with 54 surfacing last week.

This is relatively low: During the worst dengue epidemic - in 2013 - more than 22,000 people came down with the disease.

But Singapore cannot afford to be complacent, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday.

"We must keep the public continually alert to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds all year round, for the sake of their loved ones," he added. - LINETTE LAI

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Malaysia: Underwater cleanup at Redang Island

ZULKIFLY AB LATIF New Straits Times 7 Jun 18;

At a marine conservation event on Redang Island, Zulkifly Ab Latif stays at the luxurious Taaras Beach & Spa Resort while cleaning up the sea of driftnets

FAMED science writer Arthur C. Clarke, the author of the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, is often attributed for the quote: “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean.”

And indeed, with more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface covered with water, Arthur C.Clarke’s quote makes for a sound argument. Having said that, what is truly inappropriate is how humans treat the ocean, since despite its important role in sustaining our lives, we treat it with disregard.

It is no surprise then that when the opportunity to attend Redang Island Conservation Day (RICD) in Terengganu waters came, I saw it as a personal means to contribute something beneficial back to the ocean, however small.

A joint collaboration between Malaysia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Aquaria KLCC, Reef Check Malaysia and The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort, the Redang Island Conservation Day was a four-day marine conservation event aimed at preserving the marine environment, in particular the nearby waters and coastal areas of Redang island.


With a total coastline of 4,675km, fringed with hundreds of tropical islands and bordering both the South China Sea and Andaman Sea, Malaysia is a country that is inextricably intertwined with the ocean. This deep connection is perhaps best exemplified by Terengganu, with its stunning coastline that stretches some 200km, picturesque fishing villages and, of course, its dazzling tropical islands.

I am on a speedboat heading towards Redang Island, one of Terengganu’s crowning island getaways. Departing from Merang Jetty, some 40 km away from Kuala Terengganu, the boat ride is a 45-minute journey.

Breathtaking view of Taaras' private beach
With the sea calm and almost without waves, it feels as if the boat is gliding smoothly on the water’s surface. Seven kilometres long and 6km wide, Redang Island is part of Redang Island Archipellago that includes nine other smaller islands, and has been gazetted as a protected marine park since 1991.

My point of arrival on Redang Island is the jetty of Kampung Baru, the main village on the island. The jetty is abuzz with activity as boats and public ferries from Kuala Terengganu Lining arrive and depart.

As I lean against the jetty’s hand rail waiting for the resort’s transfer van, a large sack suddenly lands near my feet with a thump. Looking up, I spot a man standing on top of the deck of a nearby docked ferry. He puts up his hand and offers me an apology and then a young boy comes and heaves the heavy sack, which is full of corn, onto a beat-up pushcart. I assume the corn will be prepared and sold at one of the many small wooden stalls that line the main road near the jetty.

A white passenger van takes me to The Taras Beach Resort & Spa, a luxurious residence tucked away at the secluded bay of Teluk Dalam on the north side of Redang Island. Featuring a breathtaking private beach of powdery white sand overlooking azure waters, the resort is without a doubt, the first choice for visitors looking for lavish accommodation when visiting Redang Island.

Checked in and registered for the Redang Island Conservation Day event, I make my way towards my lodgings for the next three nights: a garden deluxe chalet situated close to the main reception building. As the name implies, the chalet is nestled amidst a tropical garden, with a raised wooden walkway that enhances the aesthetically pleasing landscape.

The tropical atmosphere is also reflected in the interior of the chalet, with natural hues and deep brown wood flooring. Having gone through a six-hour land and sea journey from Kuala Lumpur, I find the warm and soothing ambiance a much welcome respite.


As a certified scuba diver, I am participating in RICD as a diver volunteer in the event aimed at preserving the marine environment, in particular the nearby waters and coastal areas of Redang island.

Split into groups with other diver volunteers of the programme, my first task is an underwater cleanup near the waters of Teluk Dalam Kecil, the bay that the resort faces. Descending to a depth of 10 metres, our group of divers reaches a vibrant fringing reef of coral. Underwater visibility is exceptional, making my task of searching for and collecting marine debris between the coral formations a little bit easier.

Coral planting by affixing coral fragments to an underwater structure
Although more of a snorkelling spot rather than a sought-after dive site, the reefs of Teluk Dalam Kecil are a pleasure to behold. As I scour and peer into the nooks and crannies of the coral formations, I cannot but notice the abundance of giant clams, their mantles covered in unique patterns and bright colours.

A more challenging underwater task comes in the form of clearing entangled driftnets and rope near Teluk Dalam Besar, which is Teluk Dalam Kecil’s equally beautiful and larger sister bay. Lost and abandoned driftnets are a threat to marine life, as they trap and kill whatever that is unfortunate enough to get entangled in them.

As we cut through the tangled mess of algae covered net and rope, I notice a large green turtle gracefully swimming towards us, as if curious about what we are doing. It is by no coincidence then that turtles are also one of the animals threatened by driftnets, in which they are trapped with no access to the surface to breathe, and this results in drowning.

I spot another smaller green turtle swim past a fellow diver before abruptly ascending to the surface. Also called Turtle Bay by local travel operators, Teluk Dalam Besar is a popular tourist spot for spotting and perhaps even swimming with sea turtles.

Although scuba diving tasks make up a substantial bulk of the marine conservation activities during Redang Island Conservation Day, other activities have also been arranged to involve non-diver volunteers such as beach cleanups, coral planting and environmental talks aimed at educating and creating awareness.

A diver with a net full of trash collected from the reef
One such talk is by Dr Teo Eng Heng, co-founder of the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia and whose efforts helped pave the way in the establishment of Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, a protected and important sea turtle breeding ground found on Redang Island. Sitting through her talk, I find her passion for turtle conservation truly heartfelt and endearing.

Framed against the backdrop of Redang Island’s innate natural beauty, and choreographed with varied activities that are at the same time personally rewarding, educational and environmentally beneficial, Redang Island Conservation Day is a commendable effort, and something that should be continued for many years to come.


The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort

Pulau Redang, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu

Tel: 09-630 8888, 09-221 3997-9, 03-2141 0088 (KL Office)

WhatsApp: 018-220 3222

Fax: 09-630 8880



STAY One hundred and ninety units of stylish suites and rooms plus a stunning five-bedroom Private Villa. The resort sets itself as a “home away from home”, complementing the high-end resort facilities with a dedicated and interesting staff

EAT The resort’s all-day dining/buffet restaurant serves a spread of International as well as Asian and Fusion-inspired dishes while its Beach Brasserie offers Western cuisine set in an intimate beachside surrounding. For something a little more local and casual, try Aima Grill Fish Restaurant within walking distance of the resort’s gate entrance.

DO Plenty to do — from relaxing by the beach to going all out with adventure-packed water activities. But for those who prefer to stay indoors, there are a fitness centre, a cooking class, an X-Room (visual games), a pool table and indoor board games.

GO Go on a short trekking trip to the beach at Teluk Dalam Besar. The trail starts next to the resort’s gate entrance. Or go exploring the nearby village of Kampung Baru on rented motorcycles.

HIGHS The upscale resort offers privacy and luxury set in a tropical landscape.

LOWS Due to its

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Malaysia: Bring your own containers to Ramadan bazaars

The Star 8 Jun 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Make a difference this Hari Raya by bringing your own containers to Ramadan ba­­zaars, environmental activists EcoKnights urged.

The movement organised a Beg2Bekas campaign at the Rama­dan bazaar in Jalan Raja Uda, Kampung Baru.

The campaign encourages consumers to bring their own reusable shopping bags and food containers when buying buka puasa food.

EcoKnights programme officer Emirul Redzuan Mohd Khali said this year’s campaign saw the distribution of 1,000 reusable bags along with a food container distributed at the Ramadan bazaar.

This year’s campaign will be spread over 16 days until June 10.

“Last year’s campaign was held for only a day at the Ramadan bazaar in Taman Segar, Cheras, with some 150 bags with food containers distributed,” he told Bernama.

Emirul Redzuan also referred to the River Of Life, a project initiated by the Irrigation and Drainage Department and the Federal Territories Ministry.

“We explain to bazaar visitors the impact of their plastic usage and we draw the connection with river conservation so that they no longer view rivers as a rubbish dumping ground,” he said.

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Indonesia: Authorities team up to combat illegal logging in Papua

Kharishar Kahfi The Jakarta Post 7 Jun 18;

Relevant state agencies are set to collaborate to establish better forestry management in Papua in order to curb rampant illegal logging in the easternmost province, among other things.

The institutions involved are the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Papua Police and the Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency.

“Collaboration with other agencies is part of our focus on graft prevention by improving natural resources management, this time in relation to forestry,” KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif said after a meeting between the agencies in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Among measures to be taken by local authorities is forestry-related permit improvement. The joint team will also work to curb the harvesting of forestry products in the province, Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency head Yan Ormuseray said.

“We will also continue to crack down on individuals who violate forestry laws, especially illegal loggers,” Yan said.

In an attempt to tackle the problem, the Papua Police have formed a task force that will cooperate with other agencies to focus on law enforcement against illegal logging. The police have handed over at least 17 forestry-related cases to the court since January.

According to the Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency, the rate of illegal logging in the province has increased recently, especially in Sarmi regency where the cost of environmental damage could reach billions of rupiah.

Papuans depend on forests for a livelihood, Yan pointed out, suggesting that the government consider allowing indigenous people to manage their own forests. (swd)

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Heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels in air hit another high

SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press Yahoo News 8 Jun 18;

WASHINGTON (AP) — The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air peaked again this year at record levels, scientists reported Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that carbon dioxide levels averaged 411.25 parts per million in May at the federal Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, up from 409.65 a year ago.

The Scripps Institution for Oceanography, where scientists first started tracking the gas, found a similar increase.

May is traditionally the highest month for carbon dioxide levels; in late spring and summer, plants suck the heat-trapping gas out of the air.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased nearly 26 percent in 50 years. Burning coal, gas and oil emits carbon dioxide, which is a major greenhouse gas.

NOAA greenhouse gas monitoring chief Pieter Tans said the rate of increase from last year is a little less than past years but much more than it was in the 1990s.

"The emissions that we are causing today will still be in the atmosphere-ocean system thousands of years from now," Tans said. "We are as a global society making an extremely long climate change commitment."

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