The Earth Day Coastal Clean-up 2012: 106 clear 400kg but not in thunder, lightning or in rain!

On the 28th of April 2012, 106 volunteers headed down to Tanah Merah site 7 for the Earth Day coastal clean-up!

Pre-session group photo! | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Attendees include volunteer bodies from corporate groups, such as Gammon Construction Limited, SGCares, Standard Chartered, Starbucks, students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and independent sign-ups from the general public!

We’re really grateful for the relatively huge turnout! T’was really heartening.

Heading towards the halfway mark before dispatching to either ends of the beach | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Yiyong takes the session very, very seriously. | Photo credit: Xu Weiting

Yiyong reminds all volunteers to rehydrate during the session!

Volunteers manoeuvring through the vegetation along the higher strandline | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

Splitting up to look for trash | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Working together to remove bulky items | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Family bonding session! | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Determined to get some work done even as the rain clouds approached! | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

The weather wasn’t cooperating, unfortunately. Shortly after we’ve briefed the masses, dark clouds gathered, and the overcast sky loomed in the distance.

The impending rain wasn’t a concern for most; After all, we were dealing with groups of highly-motivated individuals. However, we do place our participants’ safety as the utmost priority.

Zone captain, Benjamin Tan, calling out to volunteers to head towards TMFT, in view of inclement weather

According to National Environment Agency (NEA),

Singapore has one of the highest rate of lightning activity in the world. Lying near the Equator, the weather is hot and humid almost all year round. Conditions are favourable for the development of lightning producing thunderstorm clouds. via

In fact, April and May are a few of the most lightning-prone months because of the intense inter-monsoon weather conditions.

Still unconvinced? Read: Lighting: the scariest encounter on the shore by Ria Tan (Founder of WildSingapore)

Minutes before it rained | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

The sky clears just as we called off the activity. | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

Zone captain, Benjamin, debriefs the masses | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

WHY ENGAGE IN YEAR-ROUND COASTAL CLEAN-UP EFFORTS?

To cater to interested groups of people who would like to be a part of this coastal clean-up initiative, but are unable to attend the annual ICCS in the month of September.

To raise the consumer awareness on the impact of litter in the marine environment, and clear marine litter (mostly recreational trash – e.g. plastic bottles/bags/wrappings/straws, styrofoam chunks etc.) which will otherwise remain circulating in the ecosystem, implicating wildlife (and eventually our lives).

To witness our rich inter-tidal biodiversity and marvel at their resilience (for surviving, if not thriving, despite the 2010 oil spill and ongoing development).

The substrate supports life, some invisible to the naked eye.

Mechanised beach cleaning equipment, such as the surf raker, disturbs the strandline habitat and eliminates vegetation. An obvious advantage manual beach cleaning has over mechanised beach cleaning, is the ability to differentiate natural and artificial items. Mechanise beach cleaning may also result in compacted beaches that are difficult or impossible to use for nesting, by creatures such as sea turtles.

A bazillion (Batillaria zonalis)

These guys are in abundance! They feed on microscopic algae and detritus. As such, their role in the environment is tremendous, as they act as ‘recyclers’ in the ecosystem, by feeding on decomposing matter.

Common sea stars (Archaster typicus)

Common sea stars used to occur in great numbers, but is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the Red List of threatened animals in Singapore due to habitat loss, upon reclamation of land, and over-collection by beach-combers.

Corals are animals. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution.

Sharp-eyed Weiting spotted the Spotted Moon Crab (Ashtoret lunaris) in a sharp | Photo credit: Xu Weiting

Spotted Moon Crabs are relatively common on sandy shores, especially near seagrasses. Owing to their superb camouflage and shy nature, we tend to miss them when we visit the shores during the day. See this spectacular photo taken by Ria Tan, depicting what could possibly be two spotted moon crabs mating!

*Posed* Bigfin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

Sea-land domination! This squid carcass was originally found in the waters, with two swimming crabs (each pinching on a tentacle, feeding probably). The ‘crabby’ party was spotted by Ivan Kwan. Upon closer inspection, we realised that some of the chromatophores were still active, implying that its death was rather recent!

A nerite snail

These eye-catching shells of nerites are more commonly found on rocky shores and mangroves. Similar in the appearance, you’d think that they’re all the same species of snail inhabiting varied outer shells. However, there are quite a few species of nerite snails found in Singapore, and you can actually distinguish some of them apart from the grooves on the underside of their shell. Learn to tell them apart, here!

Acorn worm cast

These casts comprise of processed sand, and are very commonly observed on shores. Acorn worms, themselves however, are rarely seen on land. As they are very vulnerable creatures, please avoid digging them up or attempt to handle any, if you’re lucky to see one emerging from the ground.

Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata)

Singapore‘s waters is home to 12 out of the 23 species of seagrasses found in the Indo-Pacific region. Seagrasses play a vital role in our ecosystem. Lush seagrass meadows provide food and shelter, serving as nurseries for many marine creatures in their juvenile stages.  Their establishment traps sediment in the water and confer a stabilising effect, alongside mangroves and corals. More about seagrasses here

SGCares hits the beach after the rain!

Many thanks to Andy Dinesh for helping us obtain the key to the sidegate, as well as liaising with NEA to coordinate trash collection at pre-designated trash pick-up points!

Loose ropes are potential threats to marine wildlife | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Removing sponge sheets with such glee! | Photo credits: Benjamin Tan

Kudos to them!

Here are some stats. to round off the Earth Day effort!

  • Time worked: ~15mins (106 people) + ~75mins (19 people)
  • Total weight cleared: ~240kg + ~160kg  = ~400kg (exclu. bulky items)
WHAT DID THE TRASH CONSTITUTE? 

Plastics dominated the trash gathered. They came in several forms, such as straws, packaging, bottles. Other trash constituents include styrofoam pieces, glass shards, a few syringes, ropes, fishing lines. It was also noted that a large fraction of the trash collected were tainted with oil.

Discarded insulin syringe

FIshing lines

Xu Weiting, ICCS Deputy Coordinator (previously Tanah Merah Zone Captain) | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Thank you all, for joining us in this Earth Day event. The session may have ended, but the effort doesn’t!

Share the experience with your friends and colleagues.

We’ll be holding the next clean-up in conjunction with World Oceans Day!

Do keep your Saturday (Jun 9) morning free!

Stalk this blog for updates!

Impressions from the community

Check out the rest of the photos on Flickr!

If you wish to share your photos with the community and want them in our Flickr repository, do refer to our FAQ for photo submission instructions

2 thoughts on “The Earth Day Coastal Clean-up 2012: 106 clear 400kg but not in thunder, lightning or in rain!

  1. Pingback: Help battle marine trash on World Oceans Day cleanup @ PR6 (9th June, 8.30am) « News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

  2. Pingback: Earth Day celebrations – Sea Grass Angel Jocelyne Sze speaks at Queenstown Primary School! « News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

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