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Singapore to have its first Marine Park on Sisters' Islands

Encompassing both the terrestrial and marine waters of the islands, the 40-hectare park will also include the western reefs of both St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor.

SINGAPORE: A Marine Park, the first of its kind in Singapore, will be set up by the National Parks Board (NParks).

Called the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, it will serve as a platform for outreach, education, conservation and research activities related to Singapore's native marine life.

This is the latest marine biodiversity conservation initiative by NParks.

The 40-hectare park encompasses the land and waters surrounding the islands, and also covers the western coasts of both St John's Island and Pulau Tekukor, the site of a former ammunition dump.

Managed by NParks, its development will involve several non-governmental organisations (NGO), universities, schools and other marine nature groups.

So apart from featuring amenities such as educational storyboards, it will also host programmes such as workshops, guided walks and dives.

NParks also plans to charter boats from the mainland for participants of the guided tours it plans to conduct.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said: "Collectively, as a society, we are contributing to the protection of our shared heritage. The park will not just be an outdoor classroom, but an underwater one as well."

The activities aim to engage and educate visitors so that they will gain an appreciation for the hundreds of marine life species Singapore plays host to.

Those include over 350 species of reef fish and hard corals, as well as the rare Neptune's Cup Sponge which have only been found live in Singapore's waters.

Dr Lena Chan, director of National Biodiversity Centre, said: "With marine biodiversity, you can't see. And what you can't see, you can't love. We need to involve everybody in this very great effort in the conservation, in learning more about our marine biodiversity."

NGOs agreed with Dr Chan. Ria Tan, founder of WildSingapore, said Sisters' Island was a good, accessible first step in improving appreciation for marine biodiversity.

"Once people see it and they appreciate it, they will know this belongs to Singapore. You don't have to go to Australia or Indonesia to see it. It is our marine life. It is something we can appreciate and enjoy," she said.

Though the park is only slated to be completed in 2015, NParks and other nature groups will be organising twice monthly group visits to the islands starting next month.

Members of the public can join the guided walks subject to weather and tidal conditions.

There are no plans to charge for these tours as of yet.

Those who are interested can sign up online at www.nparks.gov.sg/sistersislandsmarinepark, as places are limited to 15 people per visit.

Transportation to the islands will be provided.  

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