Global Leadership Link: learning about conservation from Guardians of the S.E.A.A.

Guardians of the S.E.A.A. (GOTS) partnered NUS Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) programme and A Little Learning to support Global Leadership Link (GLL) 2018. GLL is a 5-day seminar event where student leaders from Asia Pacific countries fly to Singapore to participate in a series of workshops. This year, 69 students (age between 13 and 16) and 10 teachers from Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Japan participated.

Image credit: Global Leadership Link

Guardians of the S.E.A.A. shared with the participants the importance of marine conservation and the work we do as GOTS. At the end of the event, the participants had to do a team presentation on a sustainability related topic based on what they have experienced and learnt over the five days. The winning team of seven chose Conservation Biology as their topic for presentation.

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Image credit: Global Leadership Link

The team was made up of Julie (Myanmar), Miko (Hong Kong), Sherry (Hong Kong), Daffa (Indonesia), On (Thailand), Hina (Japan), and Cheng Chang (Singapore). They share their experience below.

GLL 2018 was a truly wonderful experience as we had the opportunity to visit S.E.A. Aquarium, Pocket Greens in Bukit Panjang and NUS. It was also where we first met one another.

Before our trip to S.E.A. Aquarium, we had little knowledge on marine biology. We only knew that marine biology was about sea creatures and marine plants, such as goldfish, sea turtles, whales, sharks, crabs, octopuses, seaweed, kelp and corals. The tour around S.E.A. Aquarium clarified our misconceptions and enriched us with new information on marine life.

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S.E.A. Aquarium Operations Team sharing fun facts about the different marine life and habitats.
Image credit: Global Leadership Link

The first thing we saw at the aquarium was the big shipwreck. There, we learnt that it doubles up as a habitat and food source for the marine animals. Smaller fishes were able to hide from large predators in small openings within the wreck, while algae growing on the wreck became as a food source for certain animals.

We also learnt that corals were not plants but animals!

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Getting up-close with animals at the touchpool. Image credit: Global Leadership Link

In addition, we realised that oil pollution from ship collisions result in a layer of oil on the ocean surface, leading to the death of marine life due to poisoning and the lack of sunlight for aquatic plants and animals.

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At the Guardians of the S.E.A.A. conservation booth, learning about the various aspects of marine conservation.
Image credit: Global Leadership Link

Furthermore, we came to understand the significance of climate change and how it affects marine biodiversity. Issues such as coral bleaching is an increasingly common phenomena caused by rising sea temperatures. Mutualism is another interesting concept where we saw how different species were inter-dependent on each other, such as the Moray Eel and Cleaner Wrasse.

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Image credit: Global Leadership Link

Lastly, we were lucky enough to see divers feeding and cleaning the aquarium tanks during our visit which led us to an important learning point – given the badly littered state of our oceans, it will take us a lot more time and effort to clean out all that trash.

Throughout the course of GLL, we learnt that the ecosystem is complicated, where both plants and animals are dependent on one other to survive. Marine biodiversity is no different, and every species plays an important role in our environment. In fact, marine biodiversity goes beyond marine life. It also involves us humans. Our choice of using plastic matters, and our decision has a big impact on the state of our oceans.

On the last day, we learnt about the efforts of Guardians of the S.E.A.A. as shared by Ee Lin. She showed us how we can contribute to marine conservation – through simple actions such as participating in beach cleanups which go a long way in ensuring a sustainable marine population in our oceans.

In all, our GLL journey enriched us with lots of valuable learning points which we will pass on to our friends back in our country.

Signing off:

Julie –  Khin Phyu Thant (Myanmar)
Miko –  Wong Tsz Wai (Hong Kong)
Sherry – He Xiao Ting (Hong Kong)
Daffa – Andika Daffa Elianto (Indonesia)
On – Arachaporn Sripawatakul (Thailand)
Hina – Hina Sakota (Japan)

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