. trip to southern islands: st john, lazarus, seringat .

For this year’s Singapore Heritage Festival themed “Our Islands, Our Home”, National Heritage Board has organised several island trails, including a half-day trip to the Southern islands – St John, Lazarus and Seringat. As usual, I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to go island-hopping so I went ahead for this excursion, alone (Because no one else was able to get the balloted slots). Due to the rushed itinerary, we were not able to explore much of St John island although the trip brought back many fond memories of my first trip to the island. Lots of exploration of every nook and cranny of the island, it was fascinating. Click here to check it out!

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One of the highlights of this excursion was the visit to the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI), which is usually out-of-bounds to the public.

As per the website, TMSI is a centre of excellence for research, development and consultancy in tropical marine science as well as environmental science. With its multi-disciplinary research laboratories and active international links, it handles projects relevant to Physical Oceanography, Acoustics, Marine Biology, Marine Mammals, Biofuels, Water Resources and Climate Change.

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Following a short presentation that introduced us to TMSI, we were given a mini-tour of the research facility, including pit stops at the fishery, giant clam aquarium and my personal favourite, the touch pool!

DO YOU KNOW?

Size: These giant clams can grow up to 1.5m in diameter. The ones that we saw at the facility are about 5 years old and measures 30cm. Giant clams need to be about 1m in  diameter before they can be released back into the wild, at the undisturbed Southern shores.

Diet: They feed on the algae that lives in its fleshy body. This is also the reason why the clam will face its shell opening towards the sunlight – To encourage photosynthesis for growth of the algae.

Reproduction: Giant clams have both male and female sexual organs. As such, the clam will release a cloud of sperm into the water first, followed by the eggs for fertilization. Newborn clams are only 0.001 mm in diameter! Invisible to the naked egg!

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Since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated with touch pools because that meant a chance for me to discover, first hand, how these marine creatures felt like. The touch pool at TMSI isn’t as exciting as those at Underwater World or S.E.A Aquarium but it is unique because all the marine creatures can be found just off our shores. These marine organisms, ranging from soft corals to sea star (or starfish as it’s more commonly known) to sea cucumber, can usually be found nearer to the Southern islands as the water here is less polluted and commercialised as compared to mainland Singapore.

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A picturesque view awaits us as we walked across the “mini causeway” to the neighbouring islands of Lazarus and Seringat. I was hoping that we were able to explore more of these islands but it turned out that the only feature of these island is really the pristine beach and clear blue waters. The exact same spot that my colleagues and I chilled at during our yacht party a couple years ago. Most of my fellow tour-mates exclaimed in awe over the breathtaking sight, as one could hardly expect to discover such a hidden gem in Singapore! It’s no surprise to see the beach, with its turquoise water and powdery white sand, being a hit with many families … Just the perfect spot for a picnic and some fun in the sea for the kiddos! 🙂

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