TEDxSingapore Salon Event

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TEDxSingapore Salon Event – 20 May 2017. Credits: TEDxSingapore FaceBook page.

Throwback to TEDxSingapore Salon Event last month at Collision 8! It was their first ever live broadcast via FaceBook Live! In this interview, I shared my first time experience at TED2017, my journey as a TED Fellow, and my work life as a marine biologist. You can catch my interview with Gillian (TEDxSingapore curator) by clicking on the video below! 🙂

2017 class of TED Fellows and Senior Fellows

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*squeals*

I’m a little late in sharing the wonderful news, but I am thoroughly thrilled to be selected as a TED Fellow to take the stage at TED2017 this coming April in Vancouver, BC! Together with myself, there are 14 other aspiring young innovators from four continents, who will also deliver their talks on the TED stage.

I wish to send a big thank you to the TED Team, my colleagues and friends for their heartiest support and well-wishes on my Fellowship. I am highly encouraged to know that I will have the opportunity to present my ideas and work on such a great platform!

I have also been asked: What is my motivation on applying to be a TED Fellow? What do I hope to accomplish as a Fellow in the upcoming year? So here are some of my thoughts about what becoming a TED Fellow means to me… 🙂 Continue reading “2017 class of TED Fellows and Senior Fellows”

Hainan bans the sale of giant clams

News have surfaced from within China that Hainan has now put a widespread ban on the sale of giant clam shells, particularly those found in Tanmen Village. Articles report that as of 1 January 2017, Hainan Island began the ban of sale, purchase, and use of corals, giant clams and other handicraft. (See Chinese article here)

In 2013, the local government (presumably Hainan) strongly supported the trade of giant clam shells, making it a pillar industry in Tanmen Village and provided work for thousands living in the village. However, in 2015, within a short span of 2 years, the support of the industry has turned to prohibition, and finally a total ban. (Translated materials)

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A factory in Tanmen with mounts of fossilised giant clam shells.

On 30 November 2016, the Hainan Provincial Counsel passed the bill of “Hainan’s Coral and Giant Clam Protection Regulations”, which states the ban beginning 1 January 2017. Since the ban, the shops have reportedly removed the items and stopped selling giant clam shell products, whilst others have ‘closed down’. It is estimated that the ban will cause the loss of livelihoods of almost 10,000 people. (Translated materials) Continue reading “Hainan bans the sale of giant clams”

Why did the giant clam cross the road?

Wait a minute – Giant clams walk?!

It is surprising for most people to imagine how giant clams could ‘walk’ around on the reef. When you see a giant clam on coral reefs, you would think that such a large animal like this cannot move very fast on its own. In fact, most people have usually described the adult giant clams as sedentary (or sessile) for the rest of its life!

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Mama Jong Clam has remained in her same spot for the last 10 years of monitoring. Photos by Neo ML.

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“Can giant clams see us?”

Visitors often find themselves enthralled by our juvenile giant clams in tanks. As they swipe their hands over a tank, they noticed that the clams will rapidly retract their mantles and shut their shells. A few moments later, they slowly reveal their mantles again.

“How does that happen?”

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Our simple answer is “They can see you!”.

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Eaten by a giant clam

Eaten by a giant clam” by Joseph Cummins neatly sums up my adventurous self in the pursuit of marine biology. More often than not, I pounced into the depths of the oceans seeking answers to satisfy my curiosity, and only to find even more questions that lead on to an endless adventure. Like the many other naturalists before me, they share many interesting stories about their adventures with science. Of course, a few very intriguing ones with the giant clams… 😉

The Giant Clam has been a fascinating species for decades but did you know that culturally in the early 1920s-1940s, they have been frequently portrayed as the evil man-eaters! Due to its immense body size and weight, people historically misunderstood them and thus assume that they had the ability to kill men. The US Navy Diving Manual was said to give detailed instructions on how to release oneself from the grasp of the clam by severing the adductor muscle that holds the clam shells together. In some accounts, they even mentioned drowning of a pearl diver when the Tridacna shell clamped on his arm!

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“Am I a man-eater? Nom nom nom!”

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Science – Shell trade pushes giant clams to the brink

In the most recent volume of the Science magazine (Vol. 351, Issue 6271), Christina Larson (Science correspondent in Beijing) provided insights on the current extensive shell trade in Tanmen, Hainan Island, China. This article is closely linked back to the overfishing of giant clam shells by Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea (BBC News, 15 Dec 2015). A big thank you to Christina for putting this story together! 🙂 We hope that it will highlight the severity of over exploitation of giant clams, and the damage to the surrounding reefs. Here’s a print screen version of the article:

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Channel NewsAsia Singapore Tonight – Spotlight on Sisters’ Islands Marine Park

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Thank you National Parks Board for the opportunity to share our giant clam research work with Channel NewsAsia! On Singapore Tonight, the Spotlight was on the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park and their conservation activities. Watch the video to find out more about our marine park initiatives. 😀

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2015 L’Oreal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowships Award Ceremony

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The L’Oreal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowships was first established in 2009, and is organised by the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO and A*Star. It is a platform to not only to support scientific research, but also the young women who have taken this career path.

Many may not know that this is actually my 2nd application for this fellowship. My first attempt was in late 2013, upon graduation. I have to say (embarrassingly) that when I took out my older application for comparison, I hadn’t filled it up properly! Oh dear me! For this year, given the short two weeks timeline for submission, I had to put in plenty of effort to work up the forms. I spent alot of time reading online on how to write well for applications! The application process has been very enriching – having picked up a few more pointers on how to write a good research proposal, statement, and answering some tough questions!

I was overjoyed to find out that I am a finalist this year, and even more awesome – to now be awarded the prestigious Life Sciences fellowship! I’m also very proud to be the first awardee to represent Natural Sciences in the Life Sciences category for Singapore. 🙂

Continue reading “2015 L’Oreal Singapore For Women in Science National Fellowships Award Ceremony”