New trail on St John's Island marking out its history and vast biodiversity

Guests at the viewing pool, a new exhibit at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery, which is part of the St John's Island Trail, on Sept 2, 2017.
Guests at the viewing pool, a new exhibit at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery, which is part of the St John's Island Trail, on Sept 2, 2017.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) is beefing up offerings on idyllic St John's Island by launching a 2.8 km trail marking out its history, natural habitats and vast biodiversity.

On Saturday (Sept 2), Second Minister for National Development and Home Affairs Desmond Lee launched the new trail, along with other features, at St John's Island, which is located approximately 6.5 km to the south of the main island of Singapore.

The trail includes 15 stations and will take visitors through various eco-systems on the island, including mangroves, coastal forests and intertidal zones.

Wildlife in the area include hawksbill turtles, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins, the Great-billed Heron, and many heritage trees.

"The centre of gravity of our conservation approach cannot be to keep people away from nature. Instead, we want to instill a sense of wonder and appreciation among Singaporeans for our blue and green areas," said Mr Lee.

Exhibits at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park Public Gallery on St John's Island - once a quarantine centre for new migrants with infectious diseases - have also been given a new lease of life.

The centre, which receives more than 100 visitors a month, now has a 5m-long mangrove mesocosm, a tank that holds wildlife known to mangroves and also mimics the actual tides in the mangrove.

There are also aquarium tanks showing corals and giant clams, and a 2m-long viewing pool with sea anemones, starfishes and clown fishes.

Mr Lee also announced the formation of the friends of the Marine Park community, comprising boaters, divers, scientists, fishermen and more, who will work on projects to conserve the island.

For example, the community will see dive professionals helping to maintain the dive trail and developing guidelines for kayakers entering the park.

Visitors to St John's Island can get there on a 30-minute ferry from Marina South Pier which departs every two hours from 9am-3pm on Saturdays, and from 9am-5pm on Sundays. On weekdays, the ferry runs at 10am and 2pm.