SINGAPORE, Singapore's largest artificial reef habitat will be created at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park by the end of this year, announced JTC and the National Parks Board (NParks).

The project will see between four to eight giant artificial reef structures being pre-fabricated off-site and sunk in the waters off Small Sister's Island, within the Sisters' Islands Marine Park. The number of structures will depend on the final design.

Each reef structure will be made from materials including concrete, steel and rocks recycled from other JTC projects.

Standing at 10m, the equivalent of a three-storey terrace house, the structures will occupy the entire water column from sub-surface to the seafloor, sitting on the seabed. To avoid disturbing the underwater environment, no piling or major works will be carried out, said NParks and JTC.

Mostly bare with a sandy substrate, the area where the structures will be placed was chosen in consultation with relevant government agencies, experts, as well as members of the Friends of the Marine Park Community.

Expected to contribute some 500 sq m of additional reef area to the Marine Park, the project will also help to support existing habitat enhancement and reef restoration efforts to conserve marine biodiversity.

Finding solutions to conserve marine reefs is important, given rising temperatures which will lead to more coral bleaching.

"If we can find strategies now, we can hedge against future climate change challenges," said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine branch at NParks' National Biodiversity Centre.

Professor Chou Loke Ming, a coral expert from the National University of Singapore (NUS), stressed that exploring ways to restore and sustain coral habitats is paramount.

"Size for size, Singapore has one of the largest variety of marine species in the world. However, development and the fast-changing climate remain constant threats to our marine ecosystem," said Prof Chou.

Currently, more than 250 species of hard coral are found in Singapore's waters, which accounts for about one-third of the world's hard coral species.

Beyond enhancing reefs and expanding habitat restoration efforts, the project will also provide opportunities for various research initiatives to be implemented and serve as test beds for new technologies to study coral reef resilience.

Going forward, JTC says it hopes to work with NParks to double the artificial reef areas created at Sisters' Islands, bring it to 1,000 sq m by 2030.

Source: NAM News Network