Saturday, August 09, 2008

Starry Starry National Day

I saw stars all weekend. Knobbly sea stars that is!

Blythe adopted a star and named it Star! Photo by Budak

For IYOR 2008 Singapore's launch at the Botany Center this friday and saturday, I was coordinating the booth for Be a Star: Adopt a Star. 100 stars from Cyrene Reef were up for adoption! No, you don't get to bring the star home but the star trackers will keep you updated every time they spot your star on Cyrene Reef! In fact, they will even email you the updates on your star and there will be individual blog posts up on their site - one for each named star! There's a patrick (as in spongebob's friend), dutchie, little strange and lots more! 25 in total were adopted and named :) The money goes to funding the Reef Celebration event as well the as the publishing of a Blue Plan by the International Year of the Reef committee. The money does not go to NHC or Star Trackers or me(!) but to the IYOR and Marine Rountable. We were lucky to collect a total of $1267 in donations for these stars.

Star Trackers @ IYOR 08
Sijie [right] of Star Trackers with a young adopter, Nurul, naming her star! Photo by Chee Kong. Thanks for all your hard work Sijie and Chee Kong!

Really special thanks to the star trackers for doing so much for the event as well as for the studies of the stars! Although the money donated does not go to the star tracker but they pledge to do all the hard work to ensure that all adopters continue to have a relationship with their adopted star. It is such a great program. They should most definitely consider making this a permanent part of their program.

Hantu Bloggers adopted Bibi! Photo by Budak

Did you know that each of these knobblies are actually unique? You can tell them apart by the configuration of their chocolate chips (the knobs on their surface)! It's kind of like our fingerprints and the markings on whale sharks and tail flutes for whales. It's all really cool!

The irony about having a seastar as a best friend for a sponge is that, sea stars eat sponges! *grin* These are just some trivia I learnt while having to "sell" these sea stars. I didn't know anything before but after explaining for 2 days how baby sea stars come into being and all other sea star trivia, I now know that there is no such thing as a starfish! A starfish is not a fish. It's a star! Thus we call them sea stars.

Staff from Surbana (the development company!) adopted a star too! Photo by Budak

It was also very exciting that I got my niece and nephew to visit me at the IYOR event! It was the first time they got to see me at work. They also love the nudibranch and coloring all kinds of rainbow colors on the nudis. Of course my niece's strong resemblance to her aunt also caused certain commotion. It was good to share one's work with family.

If you are interested in adopting a sea star as well, we are considering offering the possibility of adoption even after this event. Originally it was for this event only but because of requests from public, we may consider extending it. Please leave a comment if you would consider adopting and support the idea of us offering adoption online. If you want to know more about the adoption, where the money goes to and what you receive, read the full article.

To explain a little more about what the adoption is about, I'm reproducing the little "speech" I gave during the launch to introduce the program. After hearing the "speech", we got a queue at the booth to adopt! The next 15 minutes, we got 8 stars adopted! It was amazing. I must have said something right... so here goes!

"One of the special activities at IYOR 2008 Singapore’s launch is the “Be a star: adopt a Star” program. 100 unique stars living on Singapore’s Cyrene Reef off our southern shores are up for adoption. Each knobbly sea star is a uniquely Singapore star. Every individual has a unique number and arrangement of knobs on it which works like our finger print. While you may not be able to bring these sea stars home, you could be helping to conserve its home through supporting the marine conservation efforts here at our home.

The Knobbly Sea Star is listed as a locally endangered animal in Singapore’s Red Data Book as many of its habitats here are rapidly disappearing. Cyrene Reef is one of the last remaining marine habitats for the Knobbly Sea Star. This habitat may be the only sustainable population of knobbly sea stars left in Singapore today.

We hope that through adopting and naming these Knobbly sea stars, more Singaporeans will come to care for our shores. Hopefully these sea stars will no longer be mere statistics in our books. This is also an excellent opportunity for Singaporeans like you and me to share our hopes and wishes for these stars as well as Singapore’s reefs.

Thus to help us kick off this activity as well as to launch International Year of the Reef 2008, we would like to invite Professor Tommy KohChou Loke Ming, up on stage again, to name the first star for Singapore. Professor KohChou please."

Unfortunately Prof Tommy Koh couldn't make it. But it's ok, one prof for another prof!

Cyrene Star Adopters also receive a Star Kit containing:
- A limited video CD by ASEAN waters (while stocks last)
- A NatureWatch magazine featuring IYOR (while stocks last)
- An eco-friendly bag (while stocks last)
- A Reef Celebration badge (while stock last)
- A Reef Celebration sticker
- A Southern Shores guidesheet
- A Singapore Shores information sheet
- An electronic (paper free!) adoption pack which includes
(1) an adoption certificate with biodata of your adopted star,
(2) a photo of you and the star you named as well as,
(3) information on Cyrene Reef and Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus) sent to your designated email. Whenever the star is spotted in the wild again, updates will also be emailed to them as well as updated on the Star Trackers blog.

No comments: