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More guided walks planned for marine park

Six more dates have since been set aside for those interested in the guided walks, after places for the first two walks were fully taken up.

SINGAPORE: More dates have been set aside for guided walks at Singapore's first Marine Park, after all 90 places for the walks in August were taken up in just three days. The guided walks at Sisters' Island Marine Park will now also be held on Sept 10 and 11, Nov 23 and 24, Dec 22 and 23. Members of the public can register from August 1 at the NParks website.

The park will span some 40 hectares around Sisters' Islands and along the western reefs of both St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor. It will serve as a platform for outreach, educational, conservation and research activities related to Singapore's native marine biodiversity.

As one of the highlights for the guided walks, participants will be brought to an intertidal area that boasts a rich variety of marine life, including sea stars and sea urchins.

The walks will take 45 participants each day, divided into three groups of 15. They are kept small to prevent harm to marine life.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a guided walk along Sisters' Islands on Tuesday (July 15), Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said NParks will also look at how to manage the number of people visiting the area to strike a balance between conservation and visitorship. 

"NParks deploys officers to the island everyday and will certainly be vigilant when the tides are out. We have bookings online so we control the numbers through the guided tours," he said. "Of course people are free to visit the island, but when they do so, we strongly encourage them to be respectful of the biodiversity and the fragile ecosystem here."

The walks are led by trained volunteer guides, including those from nature groups. Ms Ria Tan, founder of nature website wildsingapore, said she hopes visitors to the park will be inspired to seek out other nature spots in Singapore.

"The main message I hope they will take home is that, 'yes, Singapore has marine life!' And to go out and look at other marine life that we have elsewhere in Singapore like Pulau Ubin, Chek Jawa, and Sungei Buloh," she said. "Just because our shores are reclaimed, and we have a lot of shipping, does not mean that do not have marine life."

A giant clam was planted off the shore of Big Sister's Island to celebrate the impending opening of the marine park - it is an endangered species the park will serve to protect.

Future plans include seminars and camps at the outreach and education centre on St John's Island next year. Light infrastructure such as stepping stones may be installed, to give the public access while protecting delicate areas.

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