Guiding at St John’s and other stuff.

Unfortunately, this is yet another back-dated post.

Last Saturday (13 Aug), I did a guided walk at St John’s Island (SJI) under the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) for a group of NUS High School kids. We had to meet bright and early at 4.30am at Marina South pier to catch the morning low tide.

When we arrived at SJI, it was still dark, and we had to use our torches to make our way to the rocky shore. I had a small group of students, only about 8 of them. But they were pretty sleepy, was really quiet throughout the walk. They were having this walk as part of their Marine Biology elective, so I guess they definitely had the interest.

I didn’t take many photos, was trying to search for life on the shore and engage the kids. Saw mostly crabs and snails. Really wanted to see an octopus, since octopuses are supposed to be most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) if I’m not wrong. But didn’t get to see any ­čśŽ

So we saw mostly the usual stuff at a rocky shore, and the most exciting find was a Blue-lined flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.)

Spotlight on the flatworm

The kids were quite excited to see the animals, and if I remember correctly, this was my first time guiding an “outside” group. That is, guiding a group of students not from my school. Hope they learnt something!

the rocky shore at SJI

When the sun started to rise, we moved over to the sandy shore for a quick look at the fiddler crabs and the acorn worms.

After that we had went over to the TMSI facility for a showcase. The students were showed the ever-popular touch pool (the swimming anemone is the coolest thing in the pool!), the outdoor aquarium which houses ongoing projects as well as the shell collection. The students were really exhausted (some of them had already fallen asleep) so their teachers released them to take a quick nap near the jetty, while the guides (Jun, Joo Yong, Ching Sing and I) went to check out the little mangrove patch.

It was nice being able to go on the rocky shore again, after so long (: Thanks to Jun for the opportunity, and it was nice meeting more TMSI staff. After the guided walk, Joo Yong, Ching Sing and I took a cab over to the Botanic Gardens to attend the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (aka Mega Marine Survey) volunteer dialogue session.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Director of Conservation Division in NParks, gave an “opening speech” about the survey and volunteers and everything.

Mr Wong giving the opening address

Then Dr Tan Koh Siang from TMSI, talked about our findings so far and what there is to come in the future. Really exciting stuff (:

Animals new to science as well as records for Singapore. Even for animals which we are able to identify, we still lack sufficient knowledge of their ecology to be able to understand their role in the ecosystem.

Head structure of different groups of polychaetes

And the TMSI team have only sorted about 10% of what we have collected thus far! So much more to go!

Soon, we’ll be having lab sessions as well(: And in the future, SCUBA dive trips and even going on board a research vessel to look at our sea bed! Really exciting stuff, I really hope to do some of that.


This has been a pretty skimpy post, but for more on the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey volunteer dialogue session, check out:


About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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