Share your memories of Prof D H “Paddy” Murphy, RIP

We announced the peaceful departure of Prof D H “Paddy” Murphy last Saturday, and have been touched by the memories everyone has shared. We would love to hear your stories of learning and exploring with him and invite you to use the form at https://tinyurl.com/paddymurphy-rip.

We will share the stories with his family and with the community through the NUS Biodiversity Crew (blog), which includes the many students past and present.

DHM memories

About Singapore’s primary & secondary forests (NParks video feat Shawn Lum)

This is an excellent video by NParks featuring forest ecologist Dr Shawn Lum, “Revealing Our Roots: Trees of Singapore”, who elegantly explains Singapore’s primary & secondary forests. I love the love the old footage interleaved into the explanation too.

As we gear up with the One Million Trees movement, it is important to appreciate the background against which we must sustain the 10-year effort.

This is now required viewing for all my students…

CLIck to join the One Million trees movement! OMT

Wed 23 Sep 2020: 8.00pm – Chatting with International Coastal Cleanup coordinators from Brunei & Malaysia and our global coordinator, Ocean Conservancy!

After chatting with local inspirations in the recent webinar, we are now very pleased to enjoy an evening with national coordinators in neighbouring Malaysia and Brunei, Theresa and Eliza, who will share how they have promote marine protection during this COVID-19 pandemic.

ICCSWebinar 23sep2020

And we are all very pleased to welcome Sarah Kollar from our intentional coordinator, Ocean Conservancy, to our time zone to share global perspectives! Sarah has been conversing with national coordinators for months during this pandemic as everyone figured out how best to handle coastal cleanups and education about marine environment issues during the pandemic.

Register for the Zoom session at https://tinyurl.com/iccs-chat23sep2020, and see you on Wednesday evening!

Singapore residents have free access to the print version of The Straits Times (Singpass or NLB account)

If you need to read a premium article in the local papers (I.e. paywall), and are a Singapore residents (with SingPass or an NLB account), you can access The Straits Times, The Business and six other SPH publications for free.

The free access was introduced in late April this year during “Circuit Breaker”, the mitigation response to the COVId-19 pandemic. This service was been extended indefinitely.

Just visit this NLB page https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/main/sphnewspapers. You can increase the text magnification to a comfortable size.

ST 2 page view

On a related note, NUS staff and students have access to newspaper and media archives in Factiva and Nexis Uni; just look up https://libportal.nus.edu.sg/.

Fri 04 Sep 2020: 8.00pm – Woo Chee Yoong shares tales of otters at Kuala Selangor Nature Park

I am really glad to be hosting our Malaysian otter colleague Woo Chee Yoong from Malaysian Nature Society who studies the otters at Kuala Selangor Nature Park. It’s where I first went to see otters in the wild in the early 90’s, and this is still a very important site today.

It’s exciting to be able to showcase otters researchers in Asia. My otter students Tina Liow and Anusha Shivram helped set this up and they get to know Chee Yoong and Annabel Pianzin in the process.

They are keen to visit Kuala Selangor now and we can’t wait to visit once we can.

This is the 4th talk on otters – the third was by Annabel Pianzin from Sabah, while the first two were of otters in Singapore.

Register to join us on Zoom on Fri 4th September 2020: 8.00pm.
WCY Otter Talk Poster Final

That amazing news about the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network

One night in 1990, I trudged in the mud of Lim Chu Kang mangrove and realised it was not as dark as it should be. Walking towards the light, I realised the southern half of that mangrove had been cleared. I would learn later this was for aquaculture, and rue the decision for space was available inland which would have been just as suitable.

Instead a invaluable mangrove visited even by mangrove researchers from around the world had disappeared, just like that. No one had known, nor did anyone speak of it. We’ve been vigilant ever since, grimacing in anticipation of an inopportune interest in that piece of land.

Then came the news in 2017 and 2018 that the mangrove and mudflats at Lim Chu Kang and Mandai had been set aside as nature parks. And now the news in 2020 about the Sungei Buloh Nature Park Network. It will take a long time to sink in. Many hands had worked towards this goal over at least three decades, an they hail from many sectors of society: the active activist advocating for the site, the student toiling to build the knowledge their research would contribute, the individual and volunteer who reminded everyone that these sites exist, the managers who had looked after these sites and many a policy minion from behind a desk far from the mud, who all battled to see this day.

Their hearts must have all been gladdened by the news – a network, no less! I hope they took some time to chat with friends and family about the news or just took a break from a typically hectic pace of life to reflect on this wondrous news.

SBNPN2020

The culmination of all that effort handed baton to current teams from NParks and URA and led by the indefatigable Desmond Lee at MND, to deliver an outcome few would have dreamt about! That tinge of wistfulness and sadness when we talk about the northwest mangroves has suddenly been lifted. We will not pass on a burden of grief to our youth. And everyone can feel proud of this effort of national stewardship which ultimately ensured the conservation of these mangroves and mudflats.

Now conservation requires much more than boundaries, and everyone in various communities still have their work cut out for them. But how wonderful it will all feel now, to work in celebration, without a dark cloud hanging over all of us!

Several old guard have passed on before this news, and they were activists and contributors from our local and international community. I remember them all with gratitude, fondness and love ❤️.

For now, let’s take a deep breath and revel in this news.

Glenn & Neil celebrate on Money FM with interview with Ho Hua Chew (NSS) and Adrian Loo (NParks) with “Sungei Buloh is Growing! ”
MoneyFMinterview

Using your iMac camera? A 3rd party 1080p webcam shines a light on your conferencing

I brought my iMac (late 2015) back from work when my MacBok Pro was sent to the shop. Immediately it was clear the iMac camera quality was inferior. Apparently Mac users have been frothing at the mouth for years and that escalated when we all went online and WFH for COVID-19 – especially if your workspace at home is not well lit.

So much so the improved camera on the 2020 iMac is cause for celebration!

If I had to shop for a camera, the options online would have defeated me. Thankfully the department just issued staff with a GSou 1080p T16s webcam which they purchased from the co-op. A quick look online has it on sale for $34. And there are cheaper 1080p cameras for less than $20, if you would care to experiment.

So I added the GSou webcam clumsily on top of the iMac this morning and here is the difference:

iMac (late 2015) 720p (UVC Camera VendorID_1452 ProductID_34065)
GSou 1080p T16s webcam

Although it will break the sleek online of your iMac, add a 3rd party 1080p webcam to improve your appearance during meetings – it will help everyone on your conference too.

Unless you are Deep Throat, and need to embrace the dark.

A peek at Pulau Ubin – sensitising novice visitors with video stories about life there

Pulau Ubin is a truly special place in Singapore with layers of biodiversity, culture, heritage and adventure stories. Since 2014, its role to the Singapore community was enhanced through engagement with various sectors of the community in the Friends of Ubin Network; see the FUN microsite. And since 2015, there is a lovely map!

Since 1998, NUS Toddycats (and its precursor The Habitat Group) introduced members of public to the island through the Pedal Ubin programme. In 2009, all those years of preparation to explain, guide, ensure safety and explore the island was imported into an undergraduate module, LSM2251 Ecology and the Environment.

So twice a year, NUS undergraduates have visited Pulau Ubin to scrutinise the terrestrial habitats on the island and observe birds through bird counts of species and abundance. The class size has varied from 200 at the start to 80+ in recent years. And next Saturday, the 23rd batch visits the island. And typically, for two thirds of them, it will be the first or second time!

This year the students will have move in distanced groups of five, and function more independently of their TAs, in order to avoid congregating, as part of COVID-19 mitigation. We will prepare students with a lab practical to ensure they have a more fulfilling time on the island. they are introduced to the island through maps, photos of avian life and habitats, taught to use a binoculars and we discuss the methods they will use for bird counts.

There are some articles to read, but videos are excellent to sensitise them to several aspects about the island. Several short and good videos have been published about the lure of the kampung feel, nature and various people who work and live in Pulau Ubin. Here I list 15 videos of good quality, all enjoyable, and mostly (11 of 15) less than five minutes long. They were posted online between 2013-2019.

  1. “Welcome to Pulau Ubin” (Hiking guide; NParks, 2016) [3:59]
  2. “Cycling In Pulau Ubin – What to Look Out For” (NParks 2016) [4:09]
  3. “Pulau Ubin – the last rural land left in Singapore,” feat Subaraj Rajathurai (The Telegraph 2014) [2:32]
  4. “Life on Ubin,” feat Subaraj Rajathurai (Ethnographica, 2016) [23:29]
  5. “Exploring Pulau Ubin’s ecology: More than just a place to escape to,” by Audrey Tan and Marl Cheong (The Straits Times, 2020*) [7:15] *updated 10 Nov 2020
  6. “The Boat Operators of Pulau Ubin.” Heritage in Episodes Season 2 (NHB Root.sg, 2013) [7:46]
  7. “The Boatmen of Ubin,” (Today, 2018) [3:24]
  8. “Living in Pulau Ubin till the end,” feat Mr Ahmad Bin Kassim (Today, 2015) [1:02]
  9. “Pulau Ubin’s ‘Ah Ma’,” (Today, 2015) [1:28]
  10. “Pulau Ubin ‘is the place that saved us’ WWII survivor,” feat Ahmad Kassim (Today 2017) [2:06]
  11. “The Pulau Ubin Crab Hunter,” feat Satay (Our Grandfather Story 2018) [3:18]
  12. “A Day In The Life Pulau Ubin’s Postman,” feat Harom Jomahat (The New Paper 2017) [3:37]
  13. “A Journey To Pulau Ubin, In Search Of A Lost Home,” feat Nor Syazwan Bin Abdul Majid (Our Grandfather Story, 2019) [3:20]
  14. “Singapore Islands returning home to Pulau Ubin – The Islands That Made Us,” feat Ah Liang (CNA 2019) [10:25]
  15. “Pulau Ubin Singapore” (Koh Yiwei 2013) [4:26]

I am also glad they will see and hear our iconic and beloved friend of nature, Subaraj Rajathurai, RIP.

SubarajRajathuraiPhoto from The Telegraph (2014) 

“Paul stays at home” is a free illustrated book for children about COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 (May 2020)

I stumbled on this children’s book on the Virology blog after Lekowala pointed me to an article by Vincent Racaniello, Professor of Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.

Paul Stays At Home

The blog highlights the work of Mexican scientists, story tellers and illustrators – Susana López, Selene Zárate, and Marth Yocupicio and Eva Lobatón, to produce a lovely book. In a lovely gesture to educate kids all over the world, the pdf is available in a few languages and is free to download.

EvaLobaton