St. John's Island National Marine Laboratory


SJI pano CMBS lab Clam Aquarium Galaxea Mangrove

Singapore is strategically located at the crossroads between the Pacific and Indian Ocean with its unique position in the tropical South China Sea offering unprecedented opportunities for rapidly advancing research and discovery in tropical marine science. St. John’s Island, which lies in the Singapore Strait off the southern tip of Singapore, is connected by a land bridge to the Lazarus Island Development and is approximately one km north of the Sisters’ Islands. The island itself has healthy remnants of a coastal forest, natural rocky shores as well as a small area of mangroves supporting different flora and fauna to mainland Singapore. Many of these habitats are semi-pristine and are excellent sites for studying tropical organisms and ecosystems. These diverse biotopes support a large variety of plant and animal species, many of which have yet to be identified and studied.


About Us

The St John’s Island Marine Laboratory (SJIML) was officially opened on 3 October 2002. In March 2016, the National Research Foundation designated the marine lab as a National Research Infrastructure. This enables the facility to be operated as a national resource, providing access to all interested researchers in Singapore. SJIML will also serve as a focal point for marine science research to meet Singapore’s strategic needs for the future. The facility was launched as St John's Island National Marine Laboratory (SJINML) on 28 Nov 2016. SJINML will also serve as a focal point for marine science research to meet Singapore’s strategic needs for the future. The dedicated high quality seawater aquarium facilities present unique opportunities for high impact research in many aspects of marine science. Access to natural seawater with its enigmatic mix of chemistry and biology is a valuable resource for translating laboratory ideas into real world applications.



The research facility boasts a modern open-circulating seawater aquaria system. Seawater is drawn from the Sisters' Island Fairway, where a strong tidal current ensures good seawater quality is constantly drawn in to support marine research at the lab. Two indoor aquaria and an outdoor area support over 100 fibreglass tanks ranging from 100 to 20,000L in size. There are 10-12 research laboratories with facilities supporting biodiversity, environment, water quality, ecology, aquaculture and biotechnology research. In addition, seminar and meeting rooms, accommodation facilities including dormitories, laundry and a fully equipped modern kitchen are available. The marine lab currently supports approximately 60 staff and students focusing on marine biodiversity and environmental science research.

Coastal research is facilitated by R/V Galaxea, a 12m-long multi-purpose aluminum hulled vessel powered by twin waterjet engines and equipped with an A-frame and hydraulic winch. SCUBA diving off the vessel is also possible. The vessel is licensed to carry 9 scientists and 3 crew. Boat bookings, please contact the Field Support Officer at
Research facilities are open to all researchers. For more information and registration for access, please contact Ahmed at

The user handbook may be found here.


Education and Outreach

An Open Classroom for Environmental Science Education
  • Field-based curriculum provides a broader perspective and balanced approach for subjects in environment science
  • Students benefit from hands-on approach in science-based subjects
  • Out-of-classroom approaches stimulate student interest in what are often perceived as dry academic subjects in hardcore science and engineering disciplines
  • Field-based project work encourages creativity and nurtures soft-skills in problem-solving, crisis management and team work

The island is ideally situated for biodiversity and Marine Science teaching and research, being within easy reach of a variety of marine habitats, including rocky, sandy and muddy shores, and coral reefs at low tide. The different biotopes on the island offer interesting starting points for discussion on a wide variety of environment topics. Beyond the study of the biodiversity of animal and plants, as well as marine ecology, St John’s Island also has unique geological features and interesting history from which classroom study can be crafted.

Public Visits

*update* For Programs in 2017, please send us your contact information and we will inform you when the schedule is released.

As part of the marine laboratory's public education programme, short visits to our marine research facility are available, to create better awareness of environment issues and marine science research in Singapore. This two hour programme includes short talks highlighting some of our research as well as a mini-tour of our facility.

Cost per person: S$16.05 inclusive of 7% GST. Minimum group size of 20; maximum 50 pax. Lunch and ferry transport to St John’s Island is not included. 

Residential Training Workshops

We also conduct residential programmes and workshops for groups of 15-20 persons covering topics spanning marine science, biodiversity and environment management.

For more information, please contact Joyce at


Contact Us

General enquiries, registration for research users

Ahmed S/O A Aliyar | Admin Manager


Office tel: (65) 9823 1782


General visits, education and outreach

Ms Joyce Leo | Assistant Manager (Outreach)


Office tel: (65) 9224 4047

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