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Help! We need new homes!

posted Sep 6, 2017, 1:35 AM by Ambert Ang   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 1:37 AM ]
Long stretches of sandy beaches and rocky shores are not common coastal features of Singapore today. Instead, you will find steep granite walls in its place. These seawalls help protect our coastline from erosion and stabilize newly reclaimed lands. However, to make way for new land and these coastal defenses, many marine habitats are destroyed in the process. Marine creatures, especially the intertidal organisms have to find new homes. 

Is there a way to integrate the construction of seawalls and retain biodiversity at the same time? 

To answer this question, our seawall research team led by Dr Lynette Loke, have spent numerous hours under the scotching heat working on Singapore's seawalls over the pass few years. Seawalls lack the biodiversity of natural rocky shores as they have complex structure and topography. Through ecological engineering, we have designed tiles that increases complexity of seawalls. Increasing the complexity results in an increases in the number of microhabitats for intertidal organisms to colonize, making our seawalls more habitable.

On the 27th and 28th of May 2017, we were able to share this concept with a total of 100 kids at the annual Festival of Biodiversity organized by NParks. Using recycled materials, we designed a craft workshop that got kids to use their creative juices and design their very own home tiles for intertidal animals. In addition, we also taught them how to make pom pom intertidal animals such as crabs and snails to colonize their tile! The results where amazing and the kids enjoyed themselves as seen from the smiles on their faces. It is always great fun to work with kids and looking at how creative their designs were, we might even see them joining our lab in the future!

  

Photo credits: Lisa Lim