Singapore
Published November 27, 2006

Eighth Wonder unveils plans for marine zone

It will boast the world's largest living coral reef

By ROLAND LIM

EIGHTH Wonder yesterday unveiled plans for a billion dollar marine-themed zone within its Sentosa Integrated Resort (IR), including proposals for the world's largest cultivated coral reef, and marine conservation facilities.


Dedicated to conservation: The Ocean Planet Institute will have a marine research centre that is expected to host five full-time scientists from established marine research organisations

Mark Advent, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas-based firm said at a press briefing yesterday that its 'Ocean Planet' zone will take up about a third of the land area of its proposed gaming resort called Harry's Island, and could cost 'close to the billion dollar mark'.

Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and president of non-profit environment conservation organisation EarthEcho International, will helm the team in charge of Ocean Planet.

Mr Advent said that it will cost 'tens of millions of dollars per year' to run Ocean Planet, part of which will be funded by 'earned income, licensed products and operational support from Harry's Island'.

Some 60,000 sq ft of space in Ocean Planet has been dedicated to education and conservation activities.

This includes the Coral Helix, touted as the world's largest living coral reef, a marine research institute called Ocean Planet Institute (OPI), and two purpose-built research vessels costing US$35 million each.

The Coral Helix is expected to measure about 30 metres across and up to 15 metres deep. The OPI will have a marine research centre that is expected to host five full-time scientists from established marine research organisation Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as well as about 15 pre and post doctoral researchers.

Eighth Wonder also hopes to establish and raise $160 million for an endowment fund to help fund marine conservation activities, with plans to double the amount in five years.

Yesterday, Mr Advent also disclosed other details of the Harry's Island proposal. These include a 55,000 square feet television studio to be occupied by broadcaster Star TV, a hotel with all its rooms facing a football pitch, and a theatre that seats 7,500 people. The theatre will be recessed in a crater 250 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep.

Eighth Wonder has said that it will invest $5.5 billion to build its resort, should it win the bid for Singapore's second integrated resort. It is partnering Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, Hong Kong's Melco International Development, and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc to bid for the project.

Also in the race for the Sentosa IR project are Kerzner International and Genting International-Star Cruises.