Today – Wednesday 22nd May – is the International Day of Biological Diversity 2019. This year’s theme is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”. You can find more information about IDB and the Convention on Biodiversity at their website, https://www.cbd.int/idb/.

Many Singaporeans profess to live to eat, and one of the most frequent questions we get during our nature guided walks around St John’s Island is “this one eh sai jiak bo?” (can this be eaten?).

There are many marine organisms found in Singapore’s shores that form part of the traditional diet of Singaporeans.  Here are examples of six such animals that you may have seen around Singapore shores! In the interest of food safety and conserving biodiversity, you are encouraged to support local farmers by buying from licensed vendors.

Fan Shell (Pinna bicolor and Atrina vexillum)

Conservation status in Singapore: Vulnerable

Resembling an opened hand fan, this bivalve was once plentiful and commonly found along the sandy beaches of Singapore. Today, it is extremely rare. They may be found near seagrass meadows. They are often partially buried in the substrate, with their pointed end downwards and firmly fixed to the substrate by byssus threads; and with about 2-3cm of the razor-sharp shell sticking out of the ground.

Fan shells are filter feeders – they draw water through their mantle, trap food particles on their enlarged gills, and then pump the water out. They do this only when they are underwater, and as such if you were to see them during an intertidal walk, they will usually be closed shut tightly so as to prevent excessive water loss.

Fan shells are important in their ecosystem as they are a substrate for seaweed and other encrusting organisms to settle. The pea crab (Pinnotheres sp) is a parasite that can often be found living inside these shells and other bivalves. The fan shell provides shelter and protection from predation. These tiny organisms also share the food gathered by their host.

Large family of clam shells. You can see that they only have the top 2-3cm out of the substrate.
Large family of clam shells. You can see that they only have the top 2-3cm out of the substrate.
An empty fan shell.
Belachan shrimp.

Belachan Shrimp (Acetes spp)

Conservation status in Singapore: Unknown

These tiny shrimp of about only 0.8-4cm in length swarm in large numbers close to the shore. Given their small size, they filter feed mostly on algae and phytoplankton. The belachan shrimp are important in their ecosystem as they are a source of food for larger marine animals!

Belachan shrimp get their name from – you guessed it – being one of the most  common ingredients in belachan, a local chilli shrimp paste! The shrimps are dried under the sun, or fermented to make cinchalok (another type of chilli shrimp sauce).

In the past, they used to occur in huge numbers and were an important source of protein for fishing villagers. However, due to human activities such as reclamation and pollution, they are not as easily found in Singapore’s shores.

Baler Shell (Melo melo)

Conservation status in Singapore: Endangered

Occasionally seen on the northern shores of Singapore, they occur on sandy and muddy substrates near mangroves and seagrasses. They are usually found in deeper sublittoral waters, but occasionally seen washed onto the shore. The melon shaped shell has a very striking body pattern of brown with white stripes, while its foot is pale on the underside. They have a pair of slender tentacles, a long proboscis and a very long siphon that sticks out at the front of the shell. They can grow up to 25cm in length! Traditionally, these large shells were used to bale water from boats (such as sampans), and that is how they got their name.

Baler shells are predators. They hunt and feed on other snails and bivalves, moving around the surface of the substrate in search of their prey. Once they find their prey, they use their foot to quickly envelop it completely, slowly suffocating it! They maintain this posture until the prey is forced to open its shell to breathe or suffocate, and the baler shell then consumes its prey, leaving just an empty shell behind!

The baler shell is highly endangered due to harvesting and habitat loss. The baler shell was initially “thought to have been exterminated from our waters, but a recent isolated sighting confirms their continued presence” (Singapore Red Data Book 1994). Other than consumption of their flesh, they are very popular due to their decorative shell. They are also still used in some markets to measure out sugar, salt and flour!

Baler shell. You can see the brown body with white stripes and its long proboscis.
Orange-striped hermit crab (Clibanarius infraspinatus) in baler shell. The empty shell serves as a home for other organisms in the environment.
Underside of a spider conch.
Close up of a spider conch. You can see its eye stalks!

Spider Conch (Lambis lambis)

Conservation status in Singapore: Vulnerable

Once abundant in the 1960s, the spider conch has a very distinctive shape: it has 6 long spider-like spines on its side, which its name is derived from! Often spotted in the southern shores of Singapore especially near coral rubble areas, the spider conch moves about in a vaulting-like manner. The spines help to stabilise it and prevents the conch from toppling over as it ‘hops’ along.

When the spider conch is still, is not easy to spot – its dorsal surface and margins are often encrusted with a thick layer of algae and other detritus! It’s underside is glossy pink, with a yellow or orange colouration. Its body is olive-brown, and mottled with white spots. It has human-like eyes at the end of its tentacles which provide good vision for the conch to see where it is ‘hopping’ to. It also has a thick siphon and a hook-like operculum attached to a long and strong foot which it uses to ‘hop’. It can grow up to 20cm long. The spines that give the spider conch its name are only found in adults. The shell of male spider conches are usually smaller and have shorter spines than the those in the female.

The spider conch is a grazer, feeding on fine red algae. It is considered a delicacy in many parts of South East Asia, and their shells are prized by many collectors, especially when polished. They were probably heavily harvested in Singapore in the past, contributing to their low numbers today. Just like other marine organisms found around Singapore’s shores, the local population of spider conches are also affected by habitat degradation. Given their ability to camouflage in their environment so well, they are also easily susceptible to trampling by careless visitors to the shores.

Top Shell (Tectus niloticus)

Conservation status in Singapore: Vulnerable

Conical in shape with a flat base, top shells resemble the toys of the past – spinning tops! Growing up to 15cm in side, they have distinctive red markings on their shell – but this colouration is often obscured by encrusting animals. Once abundant in the 1960s, top shells are now less common before. However, they can still be found at the southern shores of Singapore, especially in the rocky shores. They also hang around seawalls! They are not well adapted to dry conditions, so are mostly found close to the low water mark during low tide. 

Top shells are grazers – they mainly eat filamentous algae on rocks, avoiding sandy bottoms and living corals. They (along with many other species of snails) are equipped with a special row of teeth known as the radula, which work like a conveyor belt. The radula scrapes or rasps the algae off the rocks and takes them into their mouth. This leaves a very distinctive feeding mark due to the unique structure of the radula.

Top shells are harvested not only for their meat, but for their shells as well. Before plastic, the most durable buttons came from top shells. They were often collected, then polished to remove its rather dull looking outer shell layer. This will reveal the “mother-of-pearl” nacreous layer underneath, and buttons would be cut out from the tough shell. As a result, they are one of the most economically important snails in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions, which has led to severe overfishing and its depletion in the wild. Many policies have been put in place to manage the harvesting of top shells.  There are also attempts to culture them for food and to restock wild populations. Other than overfishing, top shells are also affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution.

Giant top shell. You can see its brown operculum with concentric rings that functions as a trapdoor, allowing the snail to retract into the shell.

Close up of the underside of a top shell. You can see its head tentacles and eyes!
Flower crabs caught mating. The male is the highly decorative, blue crab, and the female is the dull green crab.

Flower Crab (Portunus pelagicus)

Conservation status in Singapore: Not Assessed

Also known as blue swimmer crabs, flower crabs are commonly found on many of Singapore’s shores, especially the northern shores. They are often associated with seaweed and seagrass habitats. Should the flower crab get trapped in a pool of water during low tide, it will bury itself in the substrate to avoid being spotted, leaving just its eyes above the sand or mud. Their common name, ‘blue swimmer crab’, comes from their last pair of legs that are shaped like paddles and can rotate, allowing them to swim well, and the males are blue in colour. The other common name, ‘flower crab’, is due to their attractive patterns on their bodies. However, only males are blue and have decorative patterns, while females are camouflaged with the environment, and occur in a dull green with less distinct patterns.

Flower crabs are predators – they are known to hunt small fish, worms, small crabs and shrimp, and molluscs, often ambushing their prey. They also occasionally eat algae and seagrass. They are an important food source for other bigger animals in the ecosystem, such as fish and birds.

Flower crabs are a popular seafood in Singapore and they are still caught in our shores with baited traps and nets. Whilst their numbers are still relatively high, they can be affected by human activities such as pollution, land reclamation and overfishing.

Without biodiversity, we would not have the food that we eat today. But many of the animals that used to be abundant in Singapore in the past – as recent as the 1960s – are slowly disappearing before our eyes. We need to act now in order to preserve our marine biodiversity and to ensure that our future generations will still be able to enjoy seeing the animals that we see today.

 

Sources

Ng, Peter K. L. and Wang Luan Keng and Kelvin K. P. Lim, 2008. Private Lives: An Expose of Singapore’s Mangroves. The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. 249 pp.

Ng, P. K. L. and Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.

Palomares, M.L.D. and D. Pauly., 2019. SeaLifeBase. [www.sealifebase.org]. Accessed 18 May 2019.

Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre, Singapore. 160 pp. 

Tan, Leo W. H. & Ng, Peter K. L., 1988. A Guide to Seashore Life. The Singapore Science Centre, Singapore. 160 pp.

Tan, Ria, 2019. Wild Singapore. [http://www.wildsingapore.com/]. Accessed 17 May 2019.

Yeo, Ron. 2013. Prawns (Phylum Arthropoda: Suborder Dendrobranchiata) of Singapore. [http://tidechaser.blogspot.com/2013/06/prawns-penaeidae-dendrobranchiata.html]. Accessed 17 May 2019.

Mr Ahmed Aliyar
Manager (Admin)

 

Mr Ahmed holds a Diploma in Biotechnology (2000) with more than 8 years work experience in marine science, after which he pursued a Bachelor in Commerce (Major in Management) (2006) and career in the public sector.

 

At SJINML, he oversees:
– General administration and financial management
– Registration of new research users
– Research collaborations and industry liaison
– Safety management

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Mr Mohamad Razali Bin Duriat
Facility Manager
Specialist Associate Grade 1 

 

Mr Razali holds a Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Diploma in Facilities Management.

 

With over 10 years experience managing the marine laboratory seawater systems and offshore lab infrastructure, he oversees facility management of SJINML. He is also Safety Coordinator. 

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Mr Chan Kok Sun, Jackson
Specialist Associate
Assistant Facility Manager, Aquaria Manager

 

Armed with a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and many years of experience and passion for aquarium systems, Mr Jackson Chan oversees SJINML’s aquaria and seawater research facilities.

 

He is also Assistant Facility Manager, assisting with management of SJINML’s buildings and core infrastructure, as well as daily ferry transport.

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Dr Serena Teo

Current Appointment

·         Facility Director, St John’s Island Marine Laboratory (2016 – present)
·         Deputy Director, Tropical Marine Science Institute (2015 – present)
 
Education: 

B.Sc. (Hons, Zoology), National University of Singapore (1988); Ph.D Marine Biology, University College Swansea, Wales, UK (1992).
 
Research Interests:
Marine Invertebrate Larval Biology; Marine Biosecurity; Marine Antifouling; Urban Ecology
 
Selected Publications:
Tay Teresa Stephanie, Bin Qi Gan, Siew Chen Serina Lee, Chin Sing Lim, Koh Siang Tan & Serena Lay-Ming Teo (2018) Larval development of the invasive charru mussel, Mytella strigata(Bivalvia: Mytilidae), Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 62:4, 248-256

 

Lim, J. Y., T. S. Tay, C. S. Lim, S. S. C. Lee, S. L.-M. Teo & K. S. Tan (2018) Mytella strigata (Bivalvia: Mytilidae): an alien mussel recently introduced to Singapore and spreading rapidly, Molluscan Research, 38:3, 170-186

 

Bhargava Samarth, Serina Siew Chen Lee, Lynette Shu Min Ying, Neo Mei Lin, Serena Lay-Ming Teo, Suresh Valiyaveettil (2018). Fate of Nanoplastics in Marine Larvae: A Case Study Using Barnacles, Amphibalanus amphitrite. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2018, 6 (5), pp 6932–6940.

 

Brzozowska, A.M., Maassen, S., Goh Zhi Rong, R., Benke, P.I., Lim, C.-S., Marzinelli, E.M.,  Jańczewski, D., Teo, S.L.-M., Vancso, G.J. (2017) Effect of Variations in Micropatterns and Surface Modulus on Marine Fouling of Engineering Polymers. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Volume 9, Issue 20, 24 May 2017, Pages 17508-17516

 

Stafslien, Shane J., Stacy Sommer, Dean C. Webster, Rajan Bodkhe, Robert Pieper, Justin Daniels, Lyndsi Vander Wal, Maureen C. Callow, James A. Callow, Emily Ralston, Geoff Swain, Lenora Brewer, Dean Wendt, Gary H. Dickinson, Chin-Sing Lim & Serena Lay-Ming Teo (2016) Comparison of laboratory and field testing performance evaluations of siloxane-polyurethane fouling-release marine coatings. Biofouling 32:8, 949-968 (5 Aug 2016)

 

Guo S, Zhu X, Jańczewski D, Lee SSC, He T, Teo SLM, Vancso GJ. (2016). Measuring protein isoelectric points at the molecular scale by AFM using trace amount of sample. Nat Nanotechnol 11:817-823. (September 2016)

 

Lee SCS, SLM Teo, G Lambert.  Status of knowledge of the Ascidiacea of the South China Sea”. (2016). Raffles Bulletin Zoology Special Supplement 34: 718–743

 

Sin, T.M., Ang, H.P., Buurman, J., Lee, A.C., Leong, Y.L., Ooi, S.K., Steinberg, P., Teo, S.L.M. (2016). The urban marine environment of Singapore. Regional Studies in Marine Science. Regional Studies in Marine Science. Volume 8, Part 2, November 2016, Pages 331–339. Special Issue on the World Harbour Project — Global harbours and ports: different locations, similar problems?

 

Leong S. C. Y., L. P. Lim, S. M. Chew, W. K. J. Kok & S. L-M Teo (2015). Three new records of dinoflagellates in Singapore’s coastal waters, with observations on environmental conditions associated with microalgal growth in the Johor Straits. Raffles Bulletin Zoology 31: 24-36

 

Ng, C.S.L.,  Lim, S.C.,  Ong, J.Y.,  Teo, S. L.M.,  Chou, L.M.,  Chua, K.E.,  Tan, K.S. (2015). Enhancing the biodiversity of coastal defence structures: Transplantation of nursery-reared reef biota onto intertidal seawalls. Ecological Engineering 82 (September 01): 480-486

 
Patents:
Teo, SLM, D Rittschof, SSC Lee, GH Dickinson, C Chai, B Burkett. Functionalised Antifouling Compounds and Use Thereof. Patent Numbers: Singapore 183158 (30 Aug 2013); US 9,169,223 (27 Oct 2015); China ZL 201180016466.5 (25 Nov 2015).

 

Teo, SLM, D Rittschof, F Moore, C Chai, Chen C-L, SSC Lee. Antifouling compounds and Use Thereof. Patent Numbers: European, UK, Italy, Norway, Germany, Netherlands 2,294,144 (5 Mar 2014); China ZL200980125164.4 (14 May 2014)

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Dr Maria Pui Yi Yung

Laboratory Manager for Environmental and Molecular Laboratory, Biosecure Aquaria Laboratory

 

Research Interests:

Microbiome, water treatment, microbial sensor technologies, bioactives, aquaculture.

 

Publications:
1. Shi Ming Tan, Pui Yi Maria Yung, Paul E. Hutchinson, Chao Xie, Guo Hui Teo, Muhammad Hafiz Ismail, Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, Peter F. R Little, Rohan B. H. Williams, and Yehuda Cohen (2019). Primer-free FISH probes from metagenomics/metatranscriptomics data permit the study of uncharacterised taxa in complex microbial communities. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2019; 5: 17.

2. Ma Yadanar Phyo, Chi Ying Gary Ding, Hui Chin Goh, Jun Xian Goh, Ji Fa Marshall Ong, Siew Herng Chan, Pui Yi Maria Yung, Hartono Candra, Lik Tong Tan (2019). Trikoramide A, a Prenylated Cyanobactin from the Marine Cyanobacterium Symploca hydnoides. Journal of Natural Products.

3. Doyle LE, Yung PY, Mitra S, Wuertz S, Williams RBH, Lauro FM, Marsili E (2017, in press). Electrochemical and genomic analysis of novel electroactive isolates obtained via potentiostatic enrichment from tropical sediments. Journal of Power Sources.

4. Neoh CH, Yung PY, Noor ZZ, Razak MH, Aris A, Din MFM, Ibrahim Z (2017) Correlation between microbial community structure and performances of membrane bioreactor for treatment of palm oil mill effluent. Chemical Engineering Journal 308, 656-663.

5. Yung PY, Grasso LL, Mohidin AF, Acerbi E, Hinks J, Seviour T, Marsili E, Lauro FM (2016) Global transcriptomic responses of Escherichia coli K-12 to volatile organic compounds. Scientific Reports 6:19899.

6. Yung PY, Burke C, Lewis M, Kjelleberg S, Thomas T (2011). Novel antibacterial proteins from the microbial communities associated with the sponge Cymbastela concentrica and the green alga Ulva australis. Appl Environ Microbiol 77:1512-5. 

7. Thomas T, Rusch D, DeMaere MZ, Yung PY, Lewis M, Halpern A, Heidelberg KB, Egan S, Steinberg PD, Kjelleberg S (2010) Functional genomic signatures of sponge bacterial reveal unique and shared features of symbiosis. ISME J 4:1557-67.

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Lim Lay Peng
Laboratory Manager for Plankton and Water Quality Cluster    

 

Research Interests:

Phytoplankton, harmful algal blooms, ballast water, marine biotoxin, water quality

 
Publications: 
1. Leong, S.C.Y., Kok, J.W.K., Lim, L.P., Kok, S.P., Taher T., Tkalich P. & Patrikalakis, N.M., 2016. Harmful Algal Blooms in Singapore marine coastal ecosystem: autonomous vehicle, optical sensors and molecular technique. Kaiyo Monthly 48: 67-76. (In Japanese) 
 
2. Tan, T.H., Leaw, C.P., Leong, S.C.Y., Lim, L.P., Chew, S.M., Teng, S.T., Lim, P.T., 2016. Marine micro-phytoplankton of Singapore, with a review of harmful microalgae in the region. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 34: 78-96.
 
3. Leong, S.C.Y., Lim, L.P., Chew, S.M., Kok, K.W.K., Teo, S.L.M., 2015. Three new records of dinoflagellates in Singapore’s coastal waters, with observations on environmental conditions associated with microalgal growth in Johor Straits. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 31: 24-36. 
 
4. Lim, H.C., Lim, L.P., Voon, S.H., Teng, S.T., Leaw, C.P. & Lim, P.T., 2011. Rapid detection of Pseudo-nitzschia species using whole cell fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH). The Proceedings of the 9th Malaysia Genetics Congress (MGC9): Appreciating the Richness of Nature through Genetics, Kuching, Malaysia, 28-30th September 2011. No. O31

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Wong Pei San Helen
Laboratory Manager – Marine Biodiversity

 

Research Interests:

Isopod and Holothuroidean taxonomy; Marine Ecology

 

Publications:

1. Bruce, N. L., & H. P.-S. Wong, 2015. An overview of the marine Isopoda (Crustacea) of Singapore.Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Supplement No. 31: 152-168.

 
2. Chim, C. K., H. P.-S. Wong & K. S. Tan, 2016. Tetraclita (Crustacea: Cirripedia) tests as an important habitat for intertidal isopods and other marine and semi-terrestrial fauna on tropical rocky shores. Crustaceana, 89(9): 985-1040.

 
3. Ong, J. Y. & H. P.-S. Wong, 2015. Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) from the Johor Straits, Singapore. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 31: 273-291.

 
4. Ong, J. Y., I. Wirawati & H. P.-S. Wong, 2016 (accepted). Sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) collected from the Singapore Strait. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 33: 105-156.

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Serina Lee Siew Chen
Laboratory Manager for Larval Culture Facility and Mass Algal Room

 

Research Interests:

Larval culture; Antifouling; Ascidian taxonomy

 

Publications:
1. Tay, T.S., Gan, B.Q., Lee, S.C.S., Lim, C.S., Tan, K.S., & Teo, S.L.M. (2018), Larval development of the invasive charru mussel, Mytella strigata (Bivalvia: Mytilidae). Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 1-9

 

2. Bhargava, S., Chen Lee, S.S., Min Ying, L.S., Neo, M.L., Lay-Ming Teo, S., & Valiyaveettil, S. (2018), Fate of Nanoplastics in Marine Larvae: A Case Study Using Barnacles, Amphibalanus amphitrite. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 6(5), 6932-6940.

 

3. Lee SSC, Chan YHJ, Teo SL-M and Lambert G (2016). “State of knowledge of ascidian diversity in South China Sea and new records for Singapore”. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 34: 718–743.

 

4. Vandepas, LE, Oliveria LM, Lee SSC, Hirose E, Rocha RM and Swalla BJ (2015).”Biogeography of Phallusia nigra: Is It Really Black and White?”. Biological Bulletin, 228:152-164.

 

5. Lee SSC, Teo SL-M and Lambert G (2013) “New records of solitary ascidians on artificialstructures in Singapore waters”. Marine Biodiversity Records, 6. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755267213000638

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Gan Bin Qi
Laboratory Manager for Histology Laboratory and Chemical Store

 

Research Interests:

Nematode; Polyclad; Metazoan meiofauna; Biodiversity; Taxonomy

 

Publications:

Tay TS, Gan BQ, Lee SCS, Lim CS, Tan KS & Teo SL-M (2018) Larval development of the invasive charru mussel, Mytella strigata (Bivalvia: Mytilidae). Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 62(4): 248–256.

 

Jie W-B, Gan BQ, Chen VY &K S-C (2016) Pseudoceros magangensis: a new species of Pseudocerotid flatworm (Platyhelminthes: Polycladida) from Taiwan. Platax, 13: 33–50.

 

Bolaños DM, Gan BQ & Ong RSL (2016) First records of Pseudocerotid flatworms (Platyhelminthes: Polycladida: Cotylea) from Singapore: A taxonomic report with remarks on colour variation. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 34: 130–169.

 

Neves RC, Brand J, Gan BQ & Reichert H (2016) First time surveying meiofauna in Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 34: 8–12.

 

Chim CK, Ong RSL & Gan BQ (2015) Penis fencing, spawning, parental care and embryonic development in the cotylean flatworm Pseudoceros indicus (Platyhelminthes: Polycladida: Pseudocerotidae) from Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement No. 31: 60–67.

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Ms Kam Pang Jen
Management Assistant Officer

 

Ms Kam oversees the marine lab’s general office, the go-to person for: booking of seminar room and dormitories; purchasing and getting your mail to NUS Kent Ridge; and ferry transport.

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Mr Chua Sek Chuan 
Senior Manager, Education Programmes
 

Master in Marine Affairs, University of Miami. 
Oversees the Education Program at the marine lab, which aims to foster awareness of marine science research and environment conservation in Singapore. 

 

 

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Ms. Joyce Leo
Assistant Manager (Outreach)

 

Joyce is part of a team of two dabbling in Education and Outreach at the marine lab, and you can often bump into her at the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre, especially if you pop in on the weekends.

 

She graduated with a major in Zoology in Tasmania back in 2010 and has a great respect and passion for the Marine Sciences. Since then, she has been working in various animal organisations until she found her current job at St. John’s Island.

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do or just want to learn more about marine science and conservation, do come by and have a chat with her!

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Leong Chee Yew
Senior Research Fellow

 

Education:

Ph.D., Soka University, Japan (2004), M. Eng., Soka University, Japan (2001); B. A., Victoria University, New Zealand (1996)

 

Research interests: 

– Understanding how environmental and climate change alter aquatic communities.
– Dynamics of harmful algal bloom, and physiology of bloom-forming species 
– Marine algal toxins. 
– Bioactive natural products derived from the metabolites of marine microalgae.
– Sensing of bloom-forming species and their toxins.

 

Current work includes detection, monitoring and study of growth dynamics of toxic algal blooms in Singapore waters. The research team has identified several new records of bloom-forming species in
Singapore waters.

 

Selected Publications: 
– Leong, S.C.Y., Lim, L.P., Chew, S.M., Kok, J.W.K., Teo, S.L.M., 2015. Three new records of dinoflagellates in Singapore’s coastal waters, with observations on environmental conditions associated with microalgal growth in the Johor Straits. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 31:24-36.

 
– Kok, J.W.K., D.C.J. Yeo and Leong, S.C.Y., 2015. Growth and physiology responses of a tropical toxic marine microalga Heterosigma akashiwo (heterokontophyta: raphidophyceae) from Singapore waters to varying nitrogen sources and light conditions. Ocean Science Journal 50: 491-508.

 
– Kuwahara, V.S., Leong, S.C.Y., 2015. Spectral fluorometric characterization of phytoplankton types in the tropical coastal waters of Singapore. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 466: 1-8.

 
– Kok, J.W.K., and Leong, S.C.Y., 2012. Growth and physiological responses of the Singapore strain of Heterosigma to various nitrogen sources and light conditions. OCEANS 12: 1-4.

 
– Leong, S.C.Y., Maekawa, M. and Taguchi, S., 2010. Carbon and nitrogen acquisition by the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense in response to different nitrogen sources and supply mode. Harmful Algae 9: 48-58.

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Tan Koh Siang
Senior Research Fellow

 

Tan Koh Siang is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Marine Biology and Ecology Laboratory at TMSI.

 

He obtained his PhD (Zoology) at the National University of Singapore in 1996 and was postdoctoral scholar at the Swire Institute of Marine Science, University of Hong Kong before joining TMSI in 1997.

 

His research interests focus on the systematics, biology and feeding ecology of tropical marine molluscs, with occasional forays into sponge taxonomy and seawall ecology.

 

Current research projects at SJINML revolve around deep-sea biodiversity assessment, biology of alien invasive mussels, and invertebrate interactions on seawall surfaces.

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Dr Ow Yan Xiang
Research Fellow

 

Dr Ow Yan Xiang is a Research Fellow with St John Island National Marine Laboratory, Singapore. After graduating from the National University of Singapore, she joined the Tropical Marine Science Institute, NUS, to work on Singapore’s coral reefs.

 

To gain more insight into how marine phototrophs adapt to their environment, she did her PhD with James Cook University, Australia (2012-2015) to study the physiological responses of tropical seagrasses to declining water quality and ocean acidification at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

 

Before joining SJINML, she held a post-doctoral research fellow position with the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS. Her research interest lies in examining the mechanisms through which marine phototrophs (i.e. corals, seagrasses, algae) respond and adapt to changes to their environments.

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Dr. Neo Mei Lin
Research Fellow

 

Dr. Neo Mei Lin is a familiar face at the St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory, having started her research work on the giant clams since 2006.

 

Her current research expertise lies in the mariculture of giant clams, experimental marine ecology, and marine conservation.

 

Mei Lin is also an advocate for science communication and to bring a voice for the conservation of giant clams. Outside of research, she actively volunteers in local conservation groups to promote marine conservation messages and educate fellow volunteers.

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Dr. Jani Tanzil
Senior Research Fellow

 

Education:

Dec 2013: PhD in Computational Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands “Environmental controls of coral growth: data driven multi-scale analyses of rates and patterns of growth of massive Porites corals around the Thai-Malay Peninsula”

Sep 2007: MSc. Tropical Coastal Management (Distinction), Newcastle University, United Kingdom.

Nov 2003: BSc. Biology, National University of Singapore

 

 

Research Interests:

  • Understanding effects of environmental changes on corals and coral reef systems using data-driven approaches
  • Developing locally-relevant response models for corals
  • Coral geochemistry to reconstruct past coral condition/reef environment
  • Nature and causes of coral skeletal luminescent and density banding patterns
  • Resilience and connectivity within socio-ecological systems

 

 

Selected Publications:

Tanzil JTI, Ng PKA, Tey YQ, Tan HYB, Yun YE, Huang D. 2017. A preliminary characterization of Symbiodinium in common corals from Singapore. Singapore National Academy of Science journal COSMOS, doi: 10.1142/S0219607716500014

Tanzil JTI, Lee JN, Brown BE, Quax R, Kaandorp JA, Lough JA, Todd PA. 2016. Luminescence and density banding patterns in massive Porites corals around the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Southeast Asia. Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.10350

Cantarero S, Tanzil JTI, Goodkin N. 2016. Simultaneous analysis of Ba and Sr to Ca ratios in scleractinian corals by inductively coupled plasma optical emissions spectrometry. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, doi: 10.1002/lom3.10152

Guest JR, Low J, Tun K, Ng CM, Raingeard D, Cooper KE, Tanzil JTI, Todd PA, Toh TC, McDougald D, Chou LM, Steinberg PD. (2016) Coral community response to bleaching on a highly urbanised reef. Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep20717

Tanzil JTI, Brown BE, Dunne RP, Lee JN, Kaandorp JA, Todd PA (2013) Regional decline in growth rates of massivePorites corals in Southeast Asia. Global Change Biology 10: 3011–3023.

Tanzil JTI (2012) Bleaching susceptibility and growth characteristics of Porites lutea from the Andaman Sea, south Thailand. PMBC Research Bulletin 71: 49–56.

Tanzil JTI, Brown BE, Tudhope S, Dunne RP (2009) Decline in skeletal growth of the coral Porites lutea from the Andaman Sea, South Thailand between 1984 and 2005. Coral Reefs 28: 519 – 528

Loh TL, JTI Tanzil, LM Chou (2006) Preliminary study of community development and scleractinian recruitment on fibreglass artificial reef units in the sedimented waters of Singapore. Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems 16: 61 – 76

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Wong Ann Kwang
Steersman

 

Wong Ann Kwang was formally from the Singapore Police Coast Guard, and currently serves as the Captain of the research vessel Galaxea. His over 40 years of sailing experience in Singapore waters has helped to greatly contribute to the various research projects conducted onboard the vessel.

 

Wong Ann Kwang is also a certified MPA Port Limit Steersman with Class 6 certificate of competency and an experience MPA Port Limit engine driver/marine engineer, allowing him to not only steer the vessel, but also conduct troubleshooting and rectification works on technical errors when onboard the research vessel.

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Sebastian Yeo
Field Support Officer

 

Sebastian Yeo serves as a Field Support Officer at the St John’s Island National Marine Lab.

Sebastian is responsible for managing the bookings for the research vessel Galaxea, collecting and compiling the necessary documents required such as the research plans, relevant permits, risk assessments and standard operating procedures relating to the various projects being carried out either onboard R/V Galaxea or on the shores of St John’s Island.

While ensuring that the various projects are being conducted safely. Sebastian is also responsible for maintaining the field equipment presently available in the St John’s Island Marine Lab.

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Shariffuddin Bin Yayah
Special Associate (Marine Ops)

 

Shariffuddin Bin Yayah serves as a MPA port limit Class 3 engine driver and marine engineer on-board R/V Galaxea.

 

Shariffuddin has over 5 years experience at sea. He also holds certification as MPA port limit steersman.

 

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Ishak Bin Nis
Operation Associate (Marine Ops)

 

Ishak Bin Nis has served as a deckhand on NUS’ research vessels since 1995. He is a certified PADI Dive Master since 2010, and dive safety officer on board R/V Galaxea.

 

He is a certified First Aider, CPR, AED and O2 provider. With over 22 years of experience, Ishak has a good work knowledge of research diving and coral reefs around Singapore waters.

 

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Dr. Loo Poh Leong
Research Fellow

 

Education
• PhD (Aquaculture Biotechnology), University of Malaya (2012)
• BSc (Biotechnology), University of Malaya (2007)

Research Interests
• Husbandry of aquatic organisms (Larviculture of finfish and shellfish, Fish breeding, Broodstock management, Coral farming)
• Live feed production (Microheterotrophs and Zooplanktons)
• Feed formulation using microorganisms grown in wastewater
• Aquaculture nutrition
• Bacterial bioremediation
• Extraction of bioactive compounds from microheterotrophs

Selected Publications
Loo P.L., Chong V.C., Vikineswary S. & Shaliza I. (2016). Waste-grown phototrophic bacterium supports culture of the rotifers, Brachionus rotundiformis. Aquaculture Research 47:3029-3041.

Loo P.L., Chong V.C., Shaliza I. & Vikineswary S. (2015). Manipulating culture conditions and feed quality to increase the survival of larval marble goby Oxyeleotris marmorata. North American Journal of Aquaculture 77:149-159.

• Loh K.H., Shao K.T., Chen C.H., Chen H.M., Amy T.Y.H., Loo P.L., Lim P.E., Chong V.C., Shen K.N. & Hsiao C.D. (2015). Complete mitochondrial genome of two moray eels of Gymnothorax formosus and Scuticaria tigrina (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae). Mitochondrial DNA. DOI: 10.3109/19401736.2015.1043530.

Loo P.L., Chong V.C. & Vikineswary S. (2013). Rhodovulum sulfidophilum, a phototrophic bacterium, grown in palm oil mill effluent improves the larval survival of marble goby Oxyeleotris marmorata (Bleeker). Aquaculture Research 44:495-507.

Loo P.L., S. Vikineswary & V.C. Chong (2013). Nutritional value and production of three species of purple non-sulphur bacteria grown in palm oil mill effluent and their application in rotifer culture. Aquaculture Nutrition 19(6): 895-907.

Loo P.L., Chong V.C. & Vikineswary S. (2012). Production of live food from palm oil mill effluent (POME) for culture of marble goby. Journal of Oil Palm Research 24:1566-1572.

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Ms Priscilla Seah 
Outreach Executive
 

Ms Seah has an Applied Science degree in the Marine Environment (Fisheries Management) (2015) from the University of Tasmania.

She oversees the Outreach and Education programme and the Sisters’ Island Marine Park Gallery, where she combines her love for both the marine environment and public speaking to raise awareness of marine science research and conservation in Singapore.

She also oversees the daily husbandry of the aquarium tanks within the Gallery.

 

 

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Dr Theresa Su  
Education Manager
 

It began with a fascination with fishes of amphibious existence, which led to an interest in mangrove ecology, and subsequently a sense of stewardship in tropical coastal systems. After working on mudskippers for her final year project, Theresa was left with more questions unanswered. She went on to examine predator prey interactions between local mudskippers and their crab prey, and received her PhD from the Nanyang Technological University in 2016.

In the pursuit of knowledge, Theresa also enjoys communicating the science to the public through guided walks and exhibits. She is always happy to engage in meaningful conversations, and our natural heritage never fails to be a great conversation starter.

At St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory, Theresa is responsible for bridging the gap between the marine scientists and all interested parties through workshops, programmes and courses.

 

Areas of interest:

Intertidal ecology, trophic interactions, mudskipper biology, mangrove brachyurans, science communications.

 

Publications:

Su TL & SSL Lim, 2017. To flee or not to flee: characterising the differentiated anti-predatory responses of two mangrove crabs.  Ethology Ecology & Evolution 29(2): 181–192.

Su TL & SSL Lim, 2016. Niche partitioning in two syntopic mudskippers (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Oxudercinae) in a Singapore mangrove.  Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 64: 220–228.

Tan HH & TL Su, 2016. Possible mating behaviour of the giant mudskipper. Singapore Biodiversity Records 149–150.

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Dr Jani Tanzil

Current Appointment

·         Deputy Facility Director, St John’s Island Marine Laboratory (2016 – present)
 
Education: 

  • Dec 2013: PhD in Computational Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands “Environmental controls of coral growth: data driven multi-scale analyses of rates and patterns of growth of massive Porites corals around the Thai-Malay Peninsula”
  • Sep 2007: MSc. Tropical Coastal Management (Distinction), Newcastle University, United Kingdom.
  • Nov 2003: BSc. Biology, National University of Singapore

 
Research Interests:

  • Understanding effects of environmental changes on corals and coral reef systems using data-driven approaches
  • Developing locally-relevant response models for corals
  • Coral geochemistry to reconstruct past coral condition/reef environment
  • Nature and causes of coral skeletal luminescent and density banding patterns
  • Resilience and connectivity within socio-ecological systems

Selected Publications:

Janzil JTI, Ng PKA, Tey YQ, Tan HYB, Yun YE, Huang D. 2017. A preliminary characterization of Symbiodinium in common corals from Singapore. Singapore National Academy of Science journal COSMOS, doi: 10.1142/S0219607716500014

Tanzil JTI, Lee JN, Brown BE, Quax R, Kaandorp JA, Lough JA, Todd PA. 2016. Luminescence and density banding patterns in massive Porites corals around the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Southeast Asia. Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.10350

Cantarero S, Tanzil JTI, Goodkin N. 2016. Simultaneous analysis of Ba and Sr to Ca ratios in scleractinian corals by inductively coupled plasma optical emissions spectrometry. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, doi: 10.1002/lom3.10152

Guest JR, Low J, Tun K, Ng CM, Raingeard D, Cooper KE, Tanzil JTI, Todd PA, Toh TC, McDougald D, Chou LM, Steinberg PD. (2016) Coral community response to bleaching on a highly urbanised reef. Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep20717

Tanzil JTI, Brown BE, Dunne RP, Lee JN, Kaandorp JA, Todd PA (2013) Regional decline in growth rates of massivePorites corals in Southeast Asia. Global Change Biology 10: 3011–3023.

Tanzil JTI (2012) Bleaching susceptibility and growth characteristics of Porites lutea from the Andaman Sea, south Thailand. PMBC Research Bulletin 71: 49–56.

Tanzil JTI, Brown BE, Tudhope S, Dunne RP (2009) Decline in skeletal growth of the coral Porites lutea from the Andaman Sea, South Thailand between 1984 and 2005. Coral Reefs 28: 519 – 528

Loh TL, JTI Tanzil, LM Chou (2006) Preliminary study of community development and scleractinian recruitment on fibreglass artificial reef units in the sedimented waters of Singapore. Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems 16: 61 – 76

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