ITE College West student Eunos Chong first saw a horseshoe crab two years ago and became so fascinated with these creatures that he started a project to protect them from extinction.
Mr Chong, 18, and three of his schoolmates designed and manufactured a Horseshoe Crab Propagation System - a system of tanks and an incubator for breeding and rearing horseshoe crabs.
Last year, they submitted the project for the Sembcorp Marine Green Wave Environmental Care Competition, and yesterday took home the top prize in the junior college/ITE category.
Mr Chong said his team's project aims to help repopulate horseshoe crab species in the wild. These are not crabs but are closely related to arachnids - a group that includes spiders and scorpions.
In January last year, Mr Chong and his teammates Dave Chong and Nurul Hanna Yakob, both 19, and Douglas Yii, 21, spent two hours picking their first batch of 17 horseshoe crab eggs - each smaller than a green bean - from the shoreline in Kranji.
The eggs were left in an incubator system equipped with an industrial temperature controller, air pumps and oxygen booster to increase the hatch rate.
After they hatched, they were transferred to hatching, nursing and display tanks. It took the team about eight months to design and manufacture the incubator and tank systems.
Mr Chong said the team has already bred "hundreds" of horseshoe crabs in captivity, and most have been released back into the wild.
The team hopes to increase the survival rate of the horseshoe crabs from 20 per cent to at least 50 per cent, by making improvements to the system.
Mr Eunos Chong and his teammates won $8,000 cash. As team leader, he will also enjoy a one-month work attachment with BP Singapore.
A total of 69 teams from primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and tertiary institutions received prizes at the Marina Mandarin hotel yesterday morning.
The competition, now in its 15th year, received 279 project submissions from more than 900 students last year. It aims to give students a broader perspective of the environmental challenges faced by Singapore and other countries, by having them showcase practical ideas for environmental sustainability.
Other winning projects included a Water Saver device designed by pupils from Northland Primary School, and a cellulose aerogel material designed by Hwa Chong Institution students to be more effective at soaking up oil spills.
The competition is organised by Sembcorp Marine, and co-sponsored by BP Shipping and Shell International Eastern Trading Company.
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Horseshoe crabs bred in captivity http://str.sg/4n3V