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Ocean Minds Presents Daniel Yap

Profession: Project manager

Organisation: Juara Turtle Project

Dan's ambition and drive is incredibly inspiring. He is constantly learning from the people who surround him both culturally and scientifically, absorbing knowledge where he can. Dan is always willing to take the time to explain things in great detail which I admire. He taught me a lot about underwater photography and is truly a pleasure to work with.

1. How did we meet?

We met in the Maldives while working on a coral restoration project at Velaa Private Island.

2. What is one memorable ocean moment from our time together?

I think it must be when I was assisting you on the “slow-growing coral” experiment on the southern side of the island. We would embark on some fairly adventurous dives, swim and boat drive back to base because of the monsoon weather pattern towards the end of the year. It was tiring but a lot of fun!

3. What encouraged you to purse a career in marine biology/conservation?

My curious nature and keenness to learn led me to volunteering at a conservation centre for a week. It opened so many doors for me and one thing led to another. The next thing I knew, I was relocating sea turtle eggs to a hatchery, working with local communities and scuba diving to collect data on coral reefs.

4. How did you land your current job?

This was the very first project I volunteered at and helped almost 10 years ago. I kept in touch with the organisation. Then 2 years ago, I came back and took on the managerial position. I tapped into the experience and skills I accumulated throughout my time away to manage the place and the programmes for the last 2 years before moving on in the middle of 2020.

5. What is it about your role that makes you feel like you are truly making a difference?

It can be daunting being responsible for planning, organising and directing the completion of specific projects. However, when people come up to you and thank you and your team for preserving or improving their surroundings, it makes all the time and effort worthwhile.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring ocean warriors?

No matter the field you wish to be in, be humble and open-minded in order to attract opportunities. Never stop learning, because with great knowledge comes great power, the power to change. Lastly, go do something meaningful and do not forget to enjoy yourself!

7. What has been your most unforgettable experience in the ocean and why?

The first time I went snorkelling on a coral reef in the ocean. It was also the first time I had seen a coral reef up close and personal. I spent almost 3 hours swimming around and duck diving down to get a closer look at some benthic critters.

8. Who has inspired you to achieve your goals?

My friend Charles Fisher. He planted the “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” seed in me almost a decade ago. The rest is history.

9. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

I am currently back in Singapore and I plan to get involved in the local conservation efforts in the near future. Seeing how much emphasis the government is putting on environmental protection in recent years, I feel that an important change will take place soon. In addition, with the advances in technology and artificial intelligence becoming more accessible, I’d like to explore possibilities of learning remote sensing and crowd-source science.

Note from Dan I would like to share a quote with anyone and everyone. "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." By John F. Kennedy

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