New marine life book introduces children to 25 sea creatures found on Singapore shores

(From left) Mr Eng Yong Liang with his sons Julian and Benjamin, wife Diana Chou and Emeritus Professor Chou Loke Ming at Changi Beach on June 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Families visiting Changi Beach can look out for sea creatures which are native to our shores, including a black and orange sea snail called the noble volute, the pink warty sea cucumber and the orange-striped hermit crab.

But before hitting the beach, check out what they and 22 other sea creatures look like in Let's Discover Our Seashores, Singapore!, the latest book in the Let's Discover, Singapore series.

The book, which will be launched on June 19, was written by Professor Emeritus Chou Loke Ming, 75, and his daughter Diana Chou, 45.

Ms Chou was inspired to write the book after visiting Changi Beach during low tide last year with her husband, Mr Eng Yong Liang, 46, and their two sons, Benjamin, nine, and Julian, 11. The former pre-school teacher had struggled to answer her son's questions about a pink sea cucumber they spotted.

So she took a few photographs of it and sent it to her father, a marine biologist whom she calls her "encyclopaedia", and he told her its name and traits.

Prof Chou, a research affiliate at the Tropical Marine Science Institute, said: "Diana thought that it would be useful if people like her, who have little knowledge of marine biodiversity, have a book featuring various sea creatures that they can refer to when they go to the beach."

The book contains photos of animals commonly found on Changi Beach during low tides. Some of the pictures were taken by Ms Chou and her brother-in-law, Mr Steven Lim, 48, who visited the seashore as early as 5am, while others were taken by their friends, Ms Cheo Pei Rong and Mr Jonathan Tan.

But the book is not just a static collection of photos and text.

By scanning QR codes in the book, readers are linked to online videos of five sea creatures - tube worm, orange-striped hermit crab, pink warty sea cucumber, smooth sea cucumber and the eight-armed seastar - taken by Ms Chou and narrated by Prof Chou and his two grandsons.

About one to three minutes long each, the videos feature the creatures' behaviours during low and incoming tides.

For instance, an eight-armed seastar is shown straightening its arms, which have small, flexible tube-like structures, allowing it to move faster when the tide comes in. Another footage shows a pink warty sea cucumber extending its tentacles when fully submerged to feed on plankton and food particles.

"Usually when people go to the beach, they won't stop to notice the funny behaviours of sea creatures," said Ms Chou, who is now a stay-home mum.

"The videos help stimulate children's curiosity and allow them to learn visually and aurally."

Emeritus Professor Chou Loke Ming (right) showing Julian some shells at Changi Beach on June 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Prof Chou said: "We hope that children will learn to appreciate and respect marine biodiversity, and be equipped with the correct ethics when they see these creatures."

He added: "Nature does not belong to anyone. It belongs to everyone, and I hope that people who read the book learn that nature should not be destroyed."

  • The book will be sold in bookshops such as Popular, Times and Kinokuniya at $19.90 for the hard cover and $13.90 for the soft cover, before GST. The authors will hold a storytelling session on June 19 from 3pm to 3.40pm at Times Waterway Point in Punggol.
The book will be sold in bookshops such as Popular, Times and Kinokuniya. PHOTO: WORLD SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING COMPANY

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