From the Director’s Desk

Welcome to Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) website!

TMSI was set up in 1996 as an initiative to gather researchers in National University of Singapore (NUS) who are keen to study marine science and engineering in the tropical region. The initial focus was on coral, marine mammals and other organisms, physical oceanography and acoustic research. In 1998, an offshore marine station was built on St. John’s Island, to provide fresh sea water to marine organisms under experimentation. Currently our researchers commune to the marine station daily through ferry services and the station is equipped with a diesel generator to power electricity. Portable water is obtained through the island service provider at a premium cost. In partnership with Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), we are now embarking on the laying of an electric power cable and water pipelines to supply electricity and water to the marine laboratory and the other two government facilities on the island. On 1 June 2016, the marine laboratory is upgraded to become a national marine laboratory that is accessible to all marine science researchers in Singapore and from other countries. This is made possible by a generous government grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF) under the Prime Minister’s Office.

The vision of TMSI is to become one of the leading research institutes in marine science and engineering in the world, particularly in tropical marine science and engineering. Tropical marine world is comprised of the greatest biodiversity in the world. The vast biodiversity offers unlimited opportunities for us to explore. Last year, we worked closely with the National Parks Board (NParks) and completed a 5-year research project on Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey. Our next step is to identify biomarkers which can be used to monitor the health of our marine environment.

Our research in underwater acoustic research is unique as the tropical waters are highly turbid. It is difficult to use optical devices to monitor any physical or biological activities in the marine environment. Underwater acoustic research may find solutions to overcome interference of communication in a turbid and noisy tropical environment. The Physical Oceanography research Group has developed state-of-art atmosphere and coastal ocean models that could be used to compute wind-waves, thermocline variability, ocean currents, and internal solitons.  There is a potential synergy between these two research groups.

The Ecological Monitoring, Informatics and Dynamics (EMID) Group provides research and services in ecological monitoring, fresh water and coastal environment impact assessment. It integrates all environmental data into a sustainable resource management system. The Marine Mammalian Research Group will be working closely with Professor Li Songhai at Sanya Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Strategically TMSI continues to partner various government agencies and international research institutes to conduct targeted research contracts and innovative joint research projects. Looking into the future, TMSI will focus on developing aquaculture research to contribute to food security and sustainability and deep sea research which ventures into the unexplored bottom of the sea.



Wong Sek Man


Tropical Marine Science Institute

National University of Singapore

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