The volunteer coordinators of the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore are conducting a recruitment exercise to search for motivated individuals who want to contribute to the betterment of the marine environment.
Volunteers will conduct evaluations of beaches and mangroves prior to cleanups, learn about marine life, liase with Organisers, help plan workshops, process data, conduct outreach activities as well as leading by example during beach and mangrove cleanups!
We are looking for Site Buddies and Site Captains who are able to commit to a maximum of ten days between March and September 2014. Check the full calendar of dates. If you fit the bill, sign up here!
We are a dedicated team who have been coordinating the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore for more than a decade. We work with Organisers from more than 60 organisations and institutions who lead some 4,000 volunteers to the beach and mangroves of Singapore in September, and with Organisers of Year-Round Coastal Cleanups.
We keep meetings and emails to a minimum in order to sustain this effort alongside our regular jobs long-term. So to work with us, you need to be responsive and dedicated. If unfamiliar, you will be introduced to our use of digital tools and field-preparation.
If you think this sounds like something you could do, we would be most happy to welcome you!
To join us, sign up here!
See you on the beach!
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
First, there were two, now a third collision adds to the toll of oil spilled in Singapore’s Southern shores.
The first two collisions occurred between chemical tanker “Lime Galaxy” and container ship “Feihe” o 29 Jan 2014 and between container ship “NYK Themis” and barge “AZ Fuzhou” on 30 Jan 2014. A total of 680 metric tonnes of fuel oil were spilt near the beaches of Kusu and St. John’s Islands. MPA reports that the affected areas have since been cleaned up by the Maritime Port Authority (MPA), National Environment Agency (NEA) and other agencies.
A third spill occurred on 10 Feb 2014. MPA reported that container ship “Hammonia Thracium” and chemical tanker “Zoey” collided off Sebarok Island, resulting in a spillage of 80 metric tonnes of bunker fuel.
Oil slick at Seringat-Kias from St. John’s Island Marine Laboratory
While all the involved vessels are now in stable conditions, the same is not certain for Singapore’s reefs. Our shores boost a rich biodiversity of over 200 species of hard corals and other organisms such as sea stars, sponges and anemones, many of which are endemic to the region. They remain susceptible to acute and long-term physiological effects due to oil contamination and a destabilization of the fragile ecosystem.
With about 1000 vessels in Singapore waters at any one time, the risk of a catastrophic accident remains ever-present. Yet, the devastating news of the oil spill is but one of many challenges that Singapore’s marine biodiversity faces. From marine litter choking our waters to land reclamation resulting in habitat loss, the survival of Singapore’s unprotected marine life is constantly under threat.
However, the outlook on the health of our precious coastal habitats need not be invariably despondent. While we may not be able to do much about collisions of vessels, you can make an effort to keep up to date on the latest information and be conscious in your daily actions to minimize the impact on the environment.
An excellent blog post by Ria Tan of Wild Shores of Singapore who investigates the cause of fish deaths in the Straits of Johor. She taps on the expertise of Shannon Lim, the scientific farmer (see 1and 2) and investigates the ground through a network of fellow bloggers and volunteers.
“Recent mass fish deaths: cause and implications,” by Ria Tan. Wild Shores of Singapore, 13 Feb 2014 [link].
Nur Hazimah Mohamed Nor, Jeffrey Philip Obbard, 2014. Microplastics in Singapore’s coastal mangrove ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 79 (1–2): 278-283, ISSN 0025-326X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.11.025 [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X13007261]
Abstract: The prevalence of microplastics was studied in seven intertidal mangroves habitats of Singapore. Microplastics were extracted from mangrove sediments via a floatation method, and then counted and categorized according to particle shape and size. Representative microplastics from Berlayar Creek, Sungei Buloh, Pasir Ris and Lim Chu Kang were isolated for polymer identification using Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR–FTIR) spectroscopy.
Microplastics were identified in all seven habitats, with the highest concentration found in sediments at Lim Chu Kang in the northwest of Singapore. The majority of microplastics were fibrous and smaller than 20 μm. A total of four polymer types were identified, including polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon and polyvinyl chloride.
The relationship between abundance of microplastics and sediment grain size was also investigated, but no relationship was apparent. The presence of microplastics is likely due to the degradation of marine plastic debris accumulating in the mangroves.
Thanks Fabiano Barreto and Sam Judd for the alert!
Northern Norway – stunning coastlines, clear water and a mountainous backdrop. Yes, nature is in perfect shape. Or is it? The camera pans to plastic amidst the Norwegian coastline.
“Norwegians for Clean Coasts” is a six-minute video which remind viewers that plastic will enter the food chain, and the footage of micro fragments being.
Ren Kyst (Norwegians for Clean Coasts), aims to clean up marine litter along 35 heavily littered beaches and coastline in northern Norway. The County Governors office fund the cleanups by volunteers and the programme involves various municipalities, councils and the Norwegian Coast Guard, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, fishermens associations and the municipal waste management company.
The Coast Guard also helps with trash removal after cleanups.
This project is led by Bo Eide, an environmentalist at the Tromsø Municipality. He had previously worked on the upstream project reinforced the deposit/refund system where producers are granted a refund of their environmental fee for a 95% recycling rate of non-refillable plastic bottles and beverage cans.
Even in a country that faces the happy problem of having insufficient garbage to fuel energy plants, the issue of bioaccumulation of plastics in organisms is still a problem which requires Ren Kyst to mobilise support and raise awareness.
The call of the video is universal, and is something we experience in Singapore too. You can begin by hitting a beach to conduct a cleanup or sign up to volunteer with us!
In the upcoming documentary, Away, Sir David Attenborough talks about the long-lasting impacts of “indestructible” plastic in the introduction:
Cancer survivor Jo Ruxton who is producing this film, previously worked on BBC’s Blue Planet and Life. She only learned of five gyres whilst filming Sharkland in 2007.
“We have to start asking why we produce so many non-reuseable items out of a material that is non-degradable. We have to start acting on this right now.
“People simply don’t realise that when they drop a fizzy drink bottle on a street, it will probably end up being washed down the drains and even- tually into the seas. People often struggle to connect their actions to the bigger picture – that’s what I want this film to achieve. To open people’s eyes.”
- “The man-made monster threatening our oceans,” by David Clensy. Bristol’s The Evening Post, 13 Dec 2011.
Find out about the film’s progress at the Plastic Oceans Foundation webpage.
In June 2011, I visited Pulau Serangoon for a recce for otter and ICCS with NParks. I had to put off opening this its as a cleanup site for ICCS as the access way is through a casuarina forest with its typical undulating ground destined to snap an ankle or two.
So I have put off opening that site for now. I have had to focus on Lim Chu Kang East Mangrove and Kranji East Mangrove in the meantime.
Last week, Ivan Kwan from NParks just returned from a visit and reported the trash is load there – its there still, waiting for us to tackle the shore.
You are not forgotten, marine life of Pulau Serangoon! I will keep looking out for an Organiser and a band of volunteers capable enough for this site. there is lot more beyond the highest high water spring tide level and the mangrove, but you get the idea.
Meanwhile, a reminder in the form of Ivan’s photos, the Flickr album of which can be found here.
If you feel keen to do something about this, and have the field experience, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Exam marking is almost over and we can chat during the monsoon and plan to recce the site in the first quarter of next year. No dramatics are required, slow and steady work over several years will have a miraculous effect.