Singapore is known to be a Garden City but did you know that there are also secret underwater gardens in our surrounding coastal waters? Just off our shores are flourishing world-class reefs teeming with an incredibly diverse and dynamic marine ecosystem!
Debby Ng, founder of The Hantu Bloggers, a non-profit, volunteer-run dive organisation, knows our secret underwater gardens well and wants to let you in on a not-so-little secret: Don’t be surprised to find Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins swimming off the shores of our little island.
For more than a decade, Debby, 34, has been unwavering and steadfast in championing awareness for Singapore’s marine environment, working in her own little way to safeguard our natural marine heritage. Through regular educational talks and organising diving tours to Pulau Hantu, an offshore island known for its sheltered and biologically diverse reefs, Debby hopes more can appreciate and respect Singapore’s unique marine environment.
You started The Hantu Blog in 2003. How have you been able to keep this going for so long?
It’s about what doing what I can for what I care about. Community interest is also important to keeping the initiative going – we have a group of volunteers, who make time to do that extra bit for what they care about.
We also try to make sure what we are doing is useful by involving our volunteers in gathering data for agencies such as National Parks Board. We train volunteer guides to identify different coral lifeforms and measure these corals’ sizes as an indicator of the reef’s health. This data becomes very useful when you collect it consistently over time using the same method. Mapping trends about the health of the marine ecosystem that we care so much about justifies our existence and keeps us going.
Tell us about your community of volunteers. Where are they from?
We see our core group of volunteers once a month. Many of them have been volunteering with us for more than nine years. As a cosmopolitan country, it is nice to see people living here take an interest in our environment. Though all our volunteers come united by a passion for marine life, each brings with them their own skillsets. Our main activity is diving, so we tend to attract more volunteers who dive. But really, the work isn’t limited to divers. For instance, we also have volunteers who are good at public speaking engage people at roadshows and give school talks.