Singapore’s mass fish deaths: a signal of problems in the Johor Strait?

This month, we look at the issue of mass fish deaths, which occurred in Singapore in the last two years. To give us a first-hand perspective, we have Wild Singapore’s Ria Tan, who has documented its occurrences closely, and former fish farmer, Joseph Wee, who has experienced it as a fish farmer. Audience members are invited to also chime in as part of this discussion. Do join us for this very insightful session!

Background to Ria’s talk:
Singapore’s northern shores are alive! When healthy, the Johor Strait marine ecosystem provides good water quality for the benefit of all. Recent annual mass fish deaths suggest something is wrong. There are signs that the decline in ecosystem health has been going on for nearly a decade. The 120 fish farms in the Johor Strait have taken the brunt, but eventually, more in Singapore will be impacted by this growing crisis. With climate change, it is likely to get worse and a ‘Dead Zone’ could develop in the Johor Strait. Why should we care? What is causing this? What should the government do? What has the community been doing about this?

Background to Joseph’s talk:
Joseph Wee will share his experience of the mass fish deaths and possible causes. He will do a show and tell with slide pictures about oil pollution and water quality, its causes and effects over time, and how Harmful Algae Bacteria (HAB) comes out of the ‘Blue’. Joseph will also cover how carbon can be used to absorb/dissolve oil in seawater.

Date: 25 May 2016 (Wed)
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Venue: SingJazz Club, 101 Jalan Sultan, #02-00, The Sultan.
Admission: Free (contributions to society accepted)
RSVP: Via Facebook or email

See you there!

About Our Speakers

Ria Tan
Ria Tan is an ordinary person who is fascinated with Singapore’s marine life. She is not a scientist. But will share what she has learnt from academics, agencies, volunteers. As well as from her 15 years monitoring Singapore’s shores: 100 surveys every year, covering 40 Singapore shore locations. She also hopes participants can help share insights into the issues.

Her involvement started with Chek Jawa before reclamation was deferred. She is now part of the Friends of Ubin Network and coordinated Ubin Day 2014, Ubin Day 2015 and Pesta Ubin 2016. She set up the shore guiding system at Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau and trained volunteer guides at the Sisters Islands Marine Park. She volunteers as a nature guide with the Naked Hermit Crabs who conduct free monthly walks at Chek Jawa for nearly a decade. Ria blogs at wild shores of singapore and runs the wildsingapore website.

Joseph Wee
Prior to becoming a fish farmer, Joseph worked in the oil refining and related oil & gas industries for about 20 years, then as a service contractor for Hyflux, and subsequently, in the field of natural gas vehicle conversion. He spent 6 years as a fish farmer, and more than 3 years as a hobby farmer.

Joseph now works for a company focused on waste oil and plastic incineration, and the application and usage of carbon from petroleum. His latest project looks at the use of carbon-rod filters to treat waste, polluted water, sea water and other water bodies.
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All photos courtesy of Ria Tan

Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2016 – applications close 24 Jan 2016

The Sustainability Mentorship Programme is back with more mentors, please circulate this to those who might be keen! More details below.

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

The Sustainability Mentorship Programme (in its 2nd run) is a youth mentorship programme co-organised by sustainability advocates in Singapore, including:

  • Ria Tan, Wildsingapore
  • Eugene Tay, Green Future Solutions and Zero Waste SG
  • November Tan, Urban Planner and Founder of The Leafmonkey Workshop
  • Marcus Tay, Sustainability Manager

1. Objectives

Through this mentorship programme, we hope to:

  • Nurture a core group of youth (19 to 29 years old) with a holistic view of sustainability issues in Singapore
  • Inspire them to be sustainability champions and leaders in the public, private and NGO sectors
  • Support them to stay committed to the sustainability cause for the long-term
  • Help them to ask the right questions and find answers

2. Timeline

  • Open call for mentees from 11 Dec 2015 to 24 Jan 2016
  • Select and interview mentees from 24 Jan 2016
  • Start 10-month programme from Feb to Nov 2016 (we meet at least twice a month – 1 for topic discussion; 1 for group project discussion)

3. Selection

  • Open to Singaporeans and PRs from 19 to 29 years old
  • Applicants should fill in the application form and submit it by 24 Jan 2016
  • Shortlisted applicants will be notified for an interview
  • 20 mentees will be selected for the programme based on the application and interview

We prefer mentees with these attitudes and skills:

  • Passionate about the environment and committed to the sustainability cause for the long-term
  • Have basic knowledge of environmental issues
  • Humble and willing to learn
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently
  • Have good time management skills
  • Punctual and respond to correspondence promptly
  • Want to take personal action to make a difference
  • Communicate effectively in English (spoken and written)
  • Able to work well with people of different backgrounds
  • Have experience working on projects or jobs related to the environment (preferred but not necessary)

4. Mentee Responsibilities

  • Attend all mentorship sessions and be punctual
  • Meet at least twice a month (1 for topic discussion; 1 for group project discussion)
  • Read materials recommended by mentors
  • Prepare answers to questions from mentors and other mentees
  • Work on a group project during the mentorship programme (assigned by mentors)
  • Implement an individual project of your own choice after the mentorship programme
  • Share results and experiences of projects with mentors and other mentees
  • The programme is free but mentees pay for their own expenses

5. Mentor Responsibilities

  • Lead 2 topic discussion sessions (mentors are free to join other sessions as co-mentors)
  • Mentor one group of 5 mentees in implementing a project during the mentorship programme (to be determined by mentors)
  • Share knowledge, skills, values and experience with mentees

6. Topic Discussion

Topics, mentor and tentative date for each session (subject to change):

Session 1 | 27 Feb 2016 | All Mentors
Introduction; what being green means to you; self-reflection

Session 2 | 26 Mar 2016 | Ria Tan
Biodiversity and ecology; nature conservation; ecosystem services

Session 3 | 30 Apr 2016 | Eugene Tay
Zero waste and circular economy

Session 4 | 28 May 2016 | Marcus Tay
Capitalism; green businesses; CSR

Session 5 | 25 Jun 2016 | November Tan
Water and food security

Session 6 | 30 Jul 2016 | Marcus Tay
Consumption; green products and materials

Session 7 | 27 Aug 2016 | Eugene Tay
Energy security and climate change; green buildings; green transport

Session 8 | 24 Sep 2016 | November Tan
Environmental laws and agreements; urban planning; public policy formulation

Session 9 | 22 Oct 2016 | Ria Tan
Marketing and communications; campaigning and government engagement

Session 10 | 26 Nov 2016 | All Mentors
Conclusion; what it all means; project presentations

Format of topic discussion:

  • Topic discussion session is held on a Saturday morning (9am to 1pm) and led by a mentor
  • Each session is held indoors or outdoors, and venue would be relevant to the topic where possible
  • Session format can be a mix of lecture, tutorial, tour or activity
  • Guest mentors with specialised domain knowledge can be invited to share
  • Mentor will provide reading material to mentees before the session
  • Each group will prepare answers to questions from mentors and other mentees
  • Each session would be around 3 to 4 hours: Discussion on topics, reading material, answers, and exploring issues, solutions, opportunities and challenges; Sharing of values, skills and experiences

7. Group Project Discussion

  • Mentees will be divided into 4 groups and assigned a mentor for each group
  • Each mentor will determine the project and monitor progress
  • Each group will meet every month with the mentor to work on project (may require to meet more than once)
  • Group meeting date is to be fixed with the mentor and other mentees in the group
  • Each group is to do a project presentation at the last mentorship session

8. Individual Project

  • Each mentee is required to implement a project of your own choice after the mentorship programme
  • Each mentee will update and share results and experiences of project with mentors and other mentees

9. About the Mentors

Here’s the profiles of the 4 resident mentors for the Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2016:

Ria Tan, Wildsingapore

Ria Tan (Wildsingapore)Ria Tan is just an ordinary person who is passionate about Singapore’s marine life. For the last 10 years, she has been regularly monitoring about 40 Singapore shores, making about 100 surveys a year with a small team of hardcore volunteers.

She blogs at wild shores of singapore and runs thewildsingapore website which includes wildsingapore newsand wildsingapore happenings and an online guide to Singapore’s common marine life. She has more than 50,000 photos on wildsingapore flickr for free download.

She started TeamSeagrass and volunteers with the Mega Marine Survey of Singapore in collaboration with NParks. She was involved in setting up the guiding system at Chek Jawaand Pulau Semakau and trained volunteer guides at the Sisters Islands Marine Park. She is also part of the Friends of Ubin Network and organised Ubin Day 2014 and Ubin Day 2015. She volunteers as a nature guide with the Naked Hermit Crabs.

She is also an associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of Singapore. She is co-author of the Chek Jawa Guidebook and the Wild Singapore coffee table book. She recently produced the Singapore Shores guidesheet and is currently working on new marine nature guidebooks for Singapore. More about wildsingapore and Ria’s projects.

Eugene Tay, Green Future Solutions and Zero Waste SG

Eugene Tay (Green Future Solutions and Zero Waste SG)Eugene Tay is a sustainability advocate who believes in spreading the environmental message, and inspiring and empowering others to take action.

He is the Director of Green Future Solutions, a sustainability consulting company that helps businesses and organisations address environmental challenges and identify green opportunities. He guides companies and organisations along their sustainability journey, and helps them on: Strategy and Operations; Research and Content; and Education and Training.

Eugene is dedicated to ending waste in Singapore and is the Executive Director of Zero Waste SG, a new non-governmental organisation dedicated to help Singapore accelerate the shift towards zero waste and the circular economy. Zero Waste SG aims to promote education and engagement on the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) among individuals and households; increase waste minimisation and recycling among businesses and organisations; and reduce specific waste.

Eugene is also the Co-Founder of Circular Economy Singapore, the President of the Sharing Economy Association (Singapore), and manages the Green Corridor campaign.

November Tan, Urban Planner and Founder of The Leafmonkey Workshop

November Tan (Urban Planner and Founder of The Leafmonkey Workshop)November Tan is an environmental geographer by training, urban planner by profession and a nature volunteer by volition. She is the Founder of The Leafmonkey Workshop, which works with nature volunteers on scientific communication.

She did her Master in Social Sciences in geography, researching on Singapore’s ecological footprint through the Singapore-Cameron Highlands’ vegetable trade. She is also the curator of Pulau Ubin Stories and author of the Midnight Monkey Monitor blog.

For the past 6 years, she has researched and written on liveable cities and urban green spaces, as well as putting theories to practice as an urban planner.

Marcus Tay, Sustainability Manager

Marcus Tay (Sustainability Manager)Marcus Tay is an environmental engineering graduate who gets a dose of the wild nature side, thanks to the NUS Toddycats. He first enjoyed himself working at Shanghai Roots and Shoots between 2006 to 2007, developing the Eco Office Program and Organic Garden for schools.

Subsequently, his work at the NUS Office of Environmental Sustainability allowed him to find success in tackling recycling contamination. Currently, he is IKEA Tampines’ Sustainability Manager, overlooking the store’s environmental impact, charitable work and most importantly, steering the sale of More Sustainable Life@Home products.

Marcus was also an active volunteer with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore for 9 years where he made like minded friends who worked together efficiently to deliver a logistical event with the barest of resources.

Marcus happens to be the inaugural winner of the Mediacorp Saving Gaia challenge.

10. Application Form

Pls submit the application form to by 10 Jan 2016 (closing date is now extended to 24 Jan). We regret that only shortlisted applicants will be notified for an interview.

Download Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2016 Application Form

“You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

OBS community event: IsLand-A-Hand

OBS has organised IsLand-A-Hand for 30 November, an event that involves environmental conservation and bonding with youths. More details below.

Come along for IsLand-A-HAND to:

  • Bond and interact with other youth participants
  • Have a deeper appreciation for our environment
  • Learn ways to conserve and protect the natural bio-diversity and wildlife
  • Be ambassadors of a sustainable environment

What can you expect?

  • Get down and dirty with your trusty hands to restore Mother Earth
  • A short trek to off-the hidden paths of Pulau Ubin
  • Environmental initiative such as Reforestation of Tanjong Tajam @ the Western Tip of Pulau Ubin, Coastal Clean-up @ the Southern Coast of Pulau Ubin & Environmental educational talk by Ms Ria Tan of WildSingapore
  • Networking session with fellow youthful nature enthusiasts!
  • Light breakfast and Lunch will be provided
Start: 30 Nov (Monday) 2015 08:00
End: 30 Nov 2015 16:00
Location: Various locations on Pulau Ubin
Please register directly at: For more details, go to


Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2015

Registrations are now open for the Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2015! Calling on 19-35 year olds keen on sustainability leadership and becoming sustainability champions. Registrations close on 4 Jan, details below!

Continue reading “Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2015”

Highlights from Ria Tan’s talk on the Secret Shores of Singapore

For those who were not able to make our March session of Green Drinks, the event was live-tweeted under the handle @oliviachoong, and here are some of the talking points :

– 1 of the things sea turtles eat. Here’s an exploded balloon. Ria advises against balloon releases:

– S’pore is very small & shores are used for industrial purposes. Flaring happens at refineries. A few days ago there was excessive flaring

– “You must go to check out the Cyrene Reef”. There are sea stars there, they live 70-100 years – Ria Tan of @wildsingapore

– There are many reefs around Singapore, 18-20. A lot of dredging happens, and it’s next to places like Cyrene Reef

– Tanah Merah is alive with marine wildlife. The oil spill hit this place, dispersant was used. “The solution to pollution is dilution”

– Parts of the crude oil spill is still at Tanah Merah, under the sand. Oil was still seen there last month.

– There was a small oil spill in Singapore in January this year, 5000 tonnes.

– Climate change is affecting coral life. There was a mass death at Chek Jawa in 2007.

– Sea stars disintegrated, sponges melted away since 2007. The Chek Jawa we know is no longer there. In May 2010 there was coral bleaching.

– Corals are living on the edge of torrents, so 1 degree celsius affects them very much.

– The worst thing that can happen to shores is reclamation, Sentosa shore lost to Resorts World Sentosa.

– Future plans of Singapore, a train line that goes to Pulau Tekong –

– It is easy to write complaints in SG, but how about praising its beauty? People should write in to say how we like things as it is.

– Please join the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore group, Team Seagrass, Blue Water Volunteers.. –

– Tan Chuan-Jin did a dive at Raffles Lighthouse recently –

– Please visit @wildsingapore to find out about marine life in Singapore, at

– We should write in to the government to say we like Bukit Brown the way it is. -an audience member

– “It does make a difference if you speak up.” – Ria Tan

– “Is it time for a marine conservation act?” – audience member. “Nature Reserve status doesn’t help”

– Lots of implications to reclamation, e.g. Water flow, burying existing habitat for 5m, water quality, etc.

– We don’t vote every 4 years, but everyday. Writing letters really helps. – Ria Tan

– Is there carbon storage potential in marine reefs? – audience. “Blue carbon is a big thing right now…a big sequestor is seagrass..” -Siti (of Team Seagrass)

– “There is a blue carbon report on the @ConservatioOrg website” – Siti

– Getting to Cyrene Reef: There are only 2 private boats that do this. $600 for 10 people, $650 for dolphins, for 12 people.

– There’s a massive biodiversity exhibition this year, beginning at Botanic Gardens, travelling through heartlands. Sponsored by APB – Ria Tan

– Dolphin sightings are once a month – Ria Tan

– The discussion has shifted to Resorts World and dolphins. Jennifer of Project Fin is commenting we keep wildlife in the wild

– We have someone from NEA here, and he’s been asked about pollution. More people are fielding him questions

Image courtesy of wildsingapore

Green Drinks: Secret shores of Singapore

This month, we are elated to have Ria Tan of wildsingapore/wild shores of Singapore with us. Find out about marine life found in Singapore through Ria’s captivating photos, and interesting stories of her adventures around our shores.

Date: 29 March 2012 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm (talk will be followed by Q&A, then mingling)
Venue: The Thought Collective (on the wooden steps), 222 Queen Street, #04-00.
RSVP: or

We hope to see you there!

About the Talk
No need to swim, no need to dive! Ordinary people can experience much of Singapore’s amazing marine life on the intertidal shore. Otters, wild dolphins, sea turtles! Nemos, sea snakes, living corals and more. From accessible shores like Changi and Tanah Merah, to our many huge submerged reefs. Ria shares photos and stories of recent adventures on our living shores. How can we visit our shores? And find out how you CAN make a difference for our little-known shores!

About the Speaker 
Ria Tan is just an ordinary person who is passionate about Singapore’s marine life. She currently regularly monitors about 40 seashore locations in Singapore and has been doing so for 10 years.

She blogs at wild shores of singapore and runs the wildsingapore website which includes wildsingapore news and wildsingapore happenings and an online guide to Singapore’s common marine life. She has more than 20,000 photos on wildsingapore flickr for free download.

Working closely with NParks, she helps manage TeamSeagrass and volunteers with the Mega Marine Survey of Singapore. She was involved in setting up the guiding system at Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau and currently volunteers as a nature guide with the Naked Hermit Crabs. She is also an associate of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

She is co-author of the Chek Jawa Guidebook and Southern Shores guidesheet and is currently working on new marine nature guidebooks for Singapore.

Image courtesy of Ria Tan

3rd December talk on “Secret Shores of Singapore” by Ria Tan

Ria Tan of Wild Singapore and Wild Shores of Singapore is holding a talk this Saturday at The National Geographic Store at VivoCity.

No need to swim, no need to dive! Ordinary people can experience much of Singapore’s amazing marine life on the intertidal shores. Otters, wild dolphins, sea turtles, sea snakes, living corals and more!

I’ll be sharing lots of photos from our regular trips to about 40 local seashore locations. Lots of stories of recent adventures, and how we can make a difference for our wild shores. Bring your friends and family for a comfy intro to our amazing shores!

Time: 2.30pm
Venue. The National Geographic Store, 1 HarbourFront Walk, #01-19 VivoCity.
Website and contact:

Image taken from the National Geographic Store