Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Kusu Island


Kusu Island is an offshore island located in the south of Singapore’s main island and is just next to Lazarus Island. Kusu Island means 'Tortoise Island' in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect. It is also known as Peak Island or Pulau Tembakul in Malay. It is 8.5 ha in size and was reclaimed from two tiny outcrops on a reef that measured 1.2 ha. The island houses a tortoise sanctuary that is home to hundreds of tortoises, a Chinese temple, and three Malay shrines.

On the ninth month of the Lunar calendar, about 130,000 people visit the island's Da Ba Gong Temple (or Temple of the Merchant God) each year. The temple was built in 1923 and houses many deities, although the two main deities are Da Bo Gong (Merchant God or God of Prosperity) and Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy).

The Malay shrines or Kramats sit atop a hill and were built to commemorate a pious family. To get to the shrines, devotees would have to climb 152 steps. The shrines are popular with childless couples seeking blessings for fertility.

Kusu Island is surrounded by rich intertidal areas. The shores around the island are home to many marine organisms consisting of various species of hard and soft corals. At low tides, visitors can explore the reefs, spotting a variety of crabs, sea cucumbers, anemones, featherstars and fishes living among the corals. Shoals of Striped Eel-tail Catfish (Plotosus lineatus) can also be spotted on the reef.

Other Resources

National Library Board Singapore. 2004. Kusu Island. http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_233_2005-01-20.html. (Accessed October 2012).

Sentosa. 2011. Kusu Island. http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/nature/southern-islands/kusu-island/. (Accessed October 2012).

Tan, R. Wild Shores of Singapore. http://wildshores.blogspot.com/. (Accessed October 2012).

Tan, R. 2003. Wild Singapore. http://www.wildsingapore.com/. (Accessed October 2012).


Chou, L. M., 2011. Southern Islands. Pp. 86-87. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development, Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

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