Date: 6 February 2009 (Friday)
Venue: Civil Service College
Participants: Nature guides and prospective nature guides
Facilitators: Ria Tan and November Tan
Guest Speaker: Jeffrey Low
The Fishy Workshop got off on a promising note with a huge turnout on a Friday evening. Seats were in such high demand that the younger participants had to volunteer to sit on the floor. The participants were a diverse bunch - ranging from experienced guides to those who were interested - who came to learn more about Singapore's marine fishes.
November started the event with a short introduction of the Leafmonkey Workshops and a compilation of responses from the pre-workshop survey. It was interesting to find out about others' pet peeves and wishes while guiding, some albeit a little more absurd than others. Thereafter, Jeffrey gave a presentation on marine fishes, and how to distinguish one from another by as much as a fleeting glimpse.
Participants trying to absorb as much as possible
It was fascinating to learn that fishes - unlike humans - had different features such as the shape of their tails, fins and mouths. With this presentation, the 'newbies' left better equipped to pass judgement on fishes they see around Singapore's shores.
The activity part kicked off with a hands-on session with play-doh. Groups (with their own 'fishy' sounding names) had to model a fish which would be well adept to live in its habitat - sandy shores, seagrass, coral etc.
Many groups roped in their creativity and knowledge of current technologies, to equip their fishes with abilities like GPS Positioning and seagrass cutting/shoving, presumably to make them the kings of the waterworld. The sharing session with the rest of the participants was animated, with chuckles and guffaws ensuing as groups passionately described their fishy creations.
The Solefish's huge lips for bottom feeding on the sandy shores
For the final activity, groups were given the task of promoting a fish to tougher - and possibly annoying - visitors while on a guiding trip. My group, for example, had to interest a bunch of aunties, who were lost in their own chatter, with the ugly-looking toadfish. Jokes (the cornier the better), analogies, and useful messages were presented and everyone came away with a better idea of engaging tricky visitors with facts of seemingly boring fish.