Marine Park reaches out

16 July 2015 | General News
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From left: NParks' Deputy Director (Coastal Marine Cluster) Dr Karenne Tun explaining the exhibits at the Gallery to Dr Tony Tan, Mr Lee, Prof Tan and Mr Er

The Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery, which showcases the rich marine biodiversity in Singapore's waters, was officially opened by Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam on 15 July.

It forms part of the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre (MPOEC), a partnership between the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) at NUS.

The Gallery, located on St John's Island, provides an overview of the Marine Park and a three-dimensional diorama of its dive trails. Amenities such as a seminar room and teaching laboratory are available for conducting talks, seminars and teaching activities for schools and community groups. By end 2016, the public will be able to enjoy marine organisms displayed in viewing pools and a mangrove ecosystem. Outreach programmes such as guided habitat walks are in the pipeline.

The launch of the Gallery was attended by distinguished guests such as Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development; Ms Christina Ong, Chairman of NParks; Mr Kenneth Er, CEO of NParks; Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President; and Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology).

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Dr Tan cutting the ribbon to officially launch the gallery

The visitors toured the gallery and listened to briefings by volunteers of the Marine Park. Students from the School of Science and Technology, Singapore gave a presentation on Marine Ecotoxicity, a joint project between NParks and the school, which monitors the levels of toxicity in the local coastal areas. The guests also got their hands wet at the Touch Pool featuring live marine creatures, a project led by students from Ang Mo Kio Secondary School who are Seashore Ambassadors under NParks' Community in Nature initiative.

Dr Tan was impressed by the gallery and outreach programmes being conducted at the MPOEC, and highlighted their importance in preserving the rich national habitat and biodiversity of Singapore. He believes that experiments being conducted at the Centre, including the revitalisation of some species, "will pay dividends in the coming years.

The Marine Park, comprising Sisters' Islands and the western reefs of St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor, is a platform for outreach, education, conservation and research activities pertaining to the local marine biodiversity. The new gallery helps to augment these ongoing programmes which include volunteer-guided walks on Big Sister's Island. TMSI and NParks collaborate closely on marine research projects, including the giant clam mariculture and species recovery programmes, where endangered species are cultured before being reintroduced back into the Marine Park.

The Gallery is open daily from 10am to 2.30pm on weekdays, 10am to 3.30pm on Saturdays, and 10am to 5.30pm on Sundays and public holidays, to coincide with ferry services plying Marina South Pier and St John's Island. Admission is free.

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Students showing Dr Tan and guests marine creatures in the Touch Pool