Act for Nature 2020: World Oceans’ Day!

World Oceans’ Day this year was held on 8th June 2020. Cooped up at home and missing the sea, I decided to do some publicity about the wonders of our marine habitats, tying in with this years’ theme of #ProtectOurHome by (hopefully) making the younger generation realise that we have rich marine biodiversity.

This was done in collaboration with some of my friends (fishing enthusiasts) who provided me with their valuable experience and knowledge of Singapore shores. I then collate and designed a series of Instagram stories and posted on my school’s informal environmental group’s (Greenterest) Instagram page. (check us out @hcgreenterest!) Actually, we already passed down the management of the page to our J1 juniors, but thankfully they allowed me to “return from retirement” (Mahathir style) and hijack the account for a day.

These are the list of stories:

The objective of this initiative was to increase awareness of our marine habitats among students, and hopefully make them realise that what they are protecting are not just the corals in faraway Maldives but also the lovely ones we have here in Singapore! (Who are, not doing well btw eeks, based on Ria Tan’s recent Facebook posts. If you see any bleaching corals, do report it at Bleach Watch Singapore’s Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/Bleach-Watch-Singapore-121734474530412/ )

The last story included some of the things I hoped people would do, especially in the COIVD-19 situation where use of disposables has considerably increased. I feel that marine waste is a big problem for our reefs, as well as climate change; and one way to make people take action is by showing them the wonderful things that we have a duty to protect. Obviously, nothing beats seeing our marine habitats in real life, but because of social distancing measures, that was not possible, so hopefully through this people will have a greater understanding of what’s at stake in our local context.

Reflections

Honestly, I did not do this for the purpose of fulfilling the AFN initially. This was mostly for fun and I was hoping that more people would be able to appreciate our marine environment. But since I did it already I just decided to use this for AFN. (oops!)

Actually, there are many problems with the Instagram stories; because of the nature of the Instagram stories, it is quite difficult to pack a lot of information inside one of them so it can be quite brief. Additionally, some things that are put out can be quite misleading. (refer to Habitat 4: Rocky Shores; where I claimed that most of our rocky shores are in the North. Actually, Labrador Nature Reserve in the South has our biggest rocky shore, and they can also be found at the Southern Islands as well) After realising this mistake, I didn’t amend it as putting out a correction notice may be awkward especially since I am not the one managing the account but just a contributor. (Also, I have a feeling that my Sea Turtle ID may be wrong oh no)

Also, there is a limit to what I can do through Instagram. Our account is not very high profile (we have 307 followers) and the estimated number of accounts reached (this is an Instagram function) is between 87 to 111. That’s reasonable, but the impressions made on Instagram can be very short lived, and I would much rather engage them in actual activities if I could. But this could serve as a useful precursor / launchpad for me and my friends to conduct intertidal walks or encourage people to volunteer with NParks through citizen science programmes.

Also, we need to consider the people who may not find this fun and are repulsed by crawly creatures. There should be a serious conversation about how to make conservation, and actually environmentalism as a whole, more inclusive. There is always a danger, I feel, for environmental groups to be viewed as a “cult”, and going crazy over sea cucumbers, aggressively promoting vegetarian diets and angrily discouraging the use of single-use plastics may reinforce that stereotype.

Nevertheless, I still had a lot of fun making these stories and learning how to make more aesthetic Instagram stories with third party apps (I used Nichi, if anyone’s interested) which will definitely come in useful in the future! And I also managed to get feedback from Lesley (thanks!) to minimise the number of pictures used (if not, there will be too many things going on in one story). Maybe I had too much fun scrolling my own photos (and my friends’) so I put in too many!

Some more photos I wanted to include (but kinda low quality so):

Evermann’s snake-eel; Reef bristleworm; Common sea star (with 4 legs!); Sea pen

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