Appreciating Marine Biodiversity at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park

Do you know that Singapore has a Marine Park? I didn’t until last year. Upon researching about the islands, I learned that NParks conducts free guided walks twice a month. It’s called Intertidal Guided Walk. It is conducted during low tides of 0.4m or below, to let participants observe and interact with the marine life easily on the shore.

If you’re wondering whether it is worth your time to visit the Marine Park, read on as I share my experience about visiting Sisters’ Islands with NParks’ Intertidal Guided Walks.

Registration for NParks’ Intertidal Guided Walks

It is surprisingly difficult to get a slot for the guided walk. Registration opens only once a month, on the first day of each month, at 10am. To register, you need to be one of the fastest persons to send an email to NParks with your particulars. Slots will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. I tried to register since 1 October 2016 but didn’t get it until 1 April 2017. Here’s a tip: set at least 3 alarms on the day of registration, at 9:30, 9:45 and 9:58. You’re welcome.

By the way, other than joining NParks Intertidal Guided Walks, you can also charter a private boat to go to the marine park. But I wouldn’t do that. Firstly, it’s very costly, it’s a few hundred bucks for a 12-seater boat. Secondly, I’m not a marine life expert so I won’t be able to identify, let alone appreciate marine life.

Anyway, I finally got a slot for May 2017, well 2 slots because everyone is allowed to bring a friend. My now-hubby and I were pretty excited about this.

What to Wear, What to Bring

For clothes, I wore a T-shirt and short pants; long sleeves are good as well especially if the day is hot, but long pants may not be good because you’ll be submerged in the sea, so your long pants will be wet.

For shoes, I wore my waterproof hiking boots hoping that I won’t get wet. Anddd… I was wrong! We walked to places where the depth exceeds 20cm, so our shoes were totally wet, there was no escape. Please note that slippers and sandals are not allowed during the walk.

For accessories, you can wear a hat, cap or sunglasses to deal with the sunlight.

I recommend you to bring: sunblock, water (because the water at the island is not drinkable), food (because no food is sold on the island), extra pair of shoes or slippers (because your shoes will be wet during the walk), camera (because you want to remember the trip), raincoat/poncho (in case it rains). You can put your things on the boat while exploring the island.

Journey to Sisters’ Islands

From home, we took MRT to Marina South Pier. When we arrived at Marina South Pier, we registered with NParks’ officers who were easy to spot because they were wearing NParks’ uniform. The boat to Sisters’ Islands departed at 8.30am. The journey took about 30 minutes.

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
The pier
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Boarding the yellow ferry
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Interior of the ferry

The Walk

At 9am, we arrived at the Big Sister’s Island (Pulau Subar Laut), which is the island that’s open for public from 7am to 7pm. The Small Sister’s Island (Pulau Subar Darat) is not open for public as it’s used for conservation and research.

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
The jetty at Big Sister’s Island
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Our ferry at Big Sister’s Island jetty

We were divided into 4 groups of 8 to 10 persons. Each group was led by a guide. My group leader is a lady who’s very enthusiastic about marine life and appeared to know a lot about the island and the marine creatures.

Here are some of the things we encountered during the 2-hour guided walk.

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Flower of Barringtonia asiatica, the fish poison tree that fishermen use to catch fish
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island-7
Fruit of Barringtonia asiatica, the fish poison tree
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Our group walking towards the lagoon
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Palm trees and island life!
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
The green thing is beansprout seaweed (tauge seaweed), not quite sure what the red ones are
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Some corals
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Two giant clams!
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Totally forgotten what this is
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Corals with green tentacles underwater. Corals and algae have mutual symbiosis where corals provide shelter and algae provide nutrients.

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Dead corals
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Beautiful horizon and reflection
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Such a beautiful morning
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Anemonefish aka nemo

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island-21

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Empty shell of a crab
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island-23
Soft coral
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Other group
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Sea cucumber
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Moon snail
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Sea grapes
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Two five-spot anemone shrimps were seen here
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Hard coral
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
The underside of a starfish
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Starfish approaching the guide
NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
When being turned upside down, starfish tries to flip itself back, thus the curling action

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Seagrass

It was quite hot when we started the walk, however, the weather changed dramatically over a period of 2 hours. By the end of our walk, it rained! We quickly washed our feet and shoes before running back to the ferry.

NParks Intertidal Guided Walk Sisters Island - May 2017
Rain is coming

My Thoughts

Will I do it again? Maybe not so soon, but I definitely wish to do the Dive Trail. Each month, NParks allocate 1 to 2 days of dive window. Interested divers can register with the appointed dive operators.

Will I recommend anyone to join this guided walk? Absolutely!

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