Toddycats at IYOR 2008

Toddycats joined the marine community for the launch on National Day eve of the International Year of the Reef Singapore 2008 and a day of exhibition and talks on National Day itself.

Inspired the wide array of activities that we have collectively presented to fellow Singaporeans under the umbrella of the IYOR blog, “Singapore celebrated our reefs“, I decided to offer an overview of the marine conservation community’s activity, all in 15 minutes!

I thought about the presentation (and endless variations) for a week but not put it together since I had been juggling teaching preparations, TA recruitment, ICCS preparations, etc. And when I sat down to do it on Friday morning, it was already time to dash down to the museum to help the Ying Fong and Yan Mei haul the specimens over to the Botanic Gardens.

Always lovely to catch up with old friends – the bonus at such events!

We arrived to boisterous greetings and all those familiar faces that I usually mainly see on the shore. The announced news (almost with glee) that Tommy Koh had been called away, partly to contain their disappointment even if it was half-expected.

Making the best of things, Ria proclaimed enthusiastically that I needn’t stick to my 15 minute timing anymore. I decided I’d bettter take a different tack with the presentation and I hightailed it to Holland Village’s Starbucks (a short bus ride away) where I hammered a draft out in 50 minutes in relative peace.

When I returned, the Toddycats booth was looking good and LOTS of people were milling around and all dressed up. There was hustle and bustle in the air and Ria hollered (somewhat accusingly) “he’s back, we can start now!”

Our booth with its slightly battered posters after years of use,
was set up in a spontaneous fit as usual.

I still needed time so quickly pulled myself away from everyone and hunkered down into a seat to keep working on the presentation. Iw as also listening to Francis Lee (Raffles Marina) who opened the session, and decided to respond to his suggestion about three points a la Tommy Koh’s. Francis’s points were thankfully groups of points since we had all that extra time and I encouraged him under my breath while I raced to finish the slides. I edited, inserted images, changed templates, tweaking content to better fit this audience and finally put in the transitions. Wilson (Eco-Singapore) was next to me chuckling at my urgency.

Yakety-yak by Otterman.

When it was time for me to step up, I immediately headed south with the Labrador dolphin carcass opening and soon after got a little too enthusiastic about an irreverent point, Mike the Headless Chicken. It was my students peering back at me that provided the urge to explain about his brainstem still being attached and all. But luckily I managed to haul myself out the hole I had dug for myself and largely stayed relevant for the rest of the talk.

Prof Chou then made an excellent presentation that further contributed to the mood, it was reminiscent but also hopeful and the room was encouraged which was very important. Happily the exhibition crew were able to listen to all this because the booth had been setup in the same room – a very good design!

Prof Chou gave a great talk, complete with references back to Sang Nila Utama!

Exhibits in the same hall, so Toddycats got to listen to the talks

Some of the Toddycats were shanghai-ed to parade the sea star posters to the audience and grinned at me as they lined up to spring into action – they did their best to hide behind the boards too!

Toddycats roped in for Sea Stars duty!

Later, I met several old friends including one who is on the 2003 Toddycats recruitment poster. Wei Ling finally got to see the video Eric, Ria and I made for the Chek Jawa submission in 2001 which featured her talking on the sand flats. This clip is usually shown in a learning environment to people who aren’t familiar with the site or circumstances so this time it was much more fun as Wei Ling and her friends made lots more informed comments!

When I finally got out of the room, it was dark and the food was gone. But there was one more meeting – Envirofest 2009 with Boon Wah! She, Ria, Karen (NParks CNR), Debby and I plotted and we agreed to set aside 5th and 6th of June next year. Expect to hear more about this with time.

Kids learnt

When I turned up the next morning, I was amazed at the crowd that had already gathered! It was a great two days that reached out to approximately 500 people. The IYOR organising team did a great job and thee community responded very well! Certainly a nice event for National Day!

10.30am – Boy, did people come!

Toddycats explained (three shifts over two days):
Yin Fong, Yanmei, Dongrong, Marcus, Enoka,
Janice, Eleanor, Nicholas and Anand.

The photos of Toddycats in action in this post are mainly by Debby (Hantu Bloggers) and also from Marcus and Chee Kong. These links below point to lots of albums and account of the whole exercise.:

  • Wild Day at Reef Celebrations,” by Ria Tan. WildFilms, 09 Aug 2008.
  • A wild day at the IYOR launch,” by Ria Tan. WildFilms, 08 Aug 2008.
  • Photos albums on Flickr:

    – N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman


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