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ACRES will ensure dolphin-watching tours are feasible before any launch

I refer to the article “Wild dolphin tours planned for Singapore waters” (April 11) and Dr Elizabeth Taylor’s comments in the article.

Louis Ng, chief executive, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society

I refer to the article “Wild dolphin tours planned for Singapore waters” (April 11) and Dr Elizabeth Taylor’s comments in the article.

There is now greater awareness in Singapore about conservation issues but the reality is that most people are familiar only with nature reserves such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and terrestrial animals. There is significantly less awareness about the marine ecosystem and we want to help change that.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) is also concurrently studying the wild dolphins in Singapore with the aim of using the data collected to develop conservation strategies. Implementing these strategies will undoubtedly require public support — which we are confident of obtaining if there is greater awareness about these issues.

ACRES is studying whether wild dolphin-watching tours are possible and we feel these tours are crucial in our efforts to heighten awareness, deepen appreciation and increase protection for marine life and the marine ecosystem in Singapore.

The concerns with regard to whether these tours are feasible are valid and ACRES shares the same concerns. Based on our preliminary research, there appears to be significant sightings of the dolphins in our waters. We agree with Dr Taylor’s previous comments in 2014, when she said she was optimistic their numbers were healthy as sightings of them were “greatly” under-reported. Also, sightings of groups of adult dolphins with calves were common, she said, and as dolphins are an apex predator, this was an indication of the health of the marine environment.

Dr Taylor’s colleague Dr Tan Koh Siang similarly stated that the dolphin sightings were common and “scientists at the institute’s laboratory on St John’s Island have regularly seen dolphins since 2002.

While this appears promising, ACRES is committed to exploring the proposed wild dolphin-watching tours in detail and ensure that they are feasible before we consider launching them. We thank Dr Taylor for her feedback, which we will use to improve our project.

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