Our smooth-coated otters spark an excitement about our marine lfie!

In our series of talks about marine life and marine litter, we introduce some prominent species along our coasts, both vertebrate and invertebrate. This is so Singaporeans appreciate a value of coastal cleanups – make habitats more favourable for our marine life.

The iconic marine animal which sparks excitement in the crowd are smooth-coated otters. Both adults and children gasp at the photos and videos which many dedicated photographers have provided. Children are dramatic, though, they widen their eyes and scream in excitement!

Let’s hope that everyone can do their part in keeping Singapore a clean and green place for the otters and other marine animals to live in!


Students from the Dulwich College watch a video by NParks “Kaya the Otter finds a new home”.


Primary 5 students from CHIJ Kellock watch a video on the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio 5 otter family!

To see more photos and videos of Singapore otters, see OtterWatch.

What Happens After The Bin? (Plastic Recycling)

An infographic from the Good Guide to Recycling of the process of recycling and the characteristic of these plastics: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), Polycarbonate (PC).

Screenshot 106

Sat 15 Oct 2016: Join NUS Toddycats and friends @ Sungei Mandai Kecil mangrove cleanup

Dear Friends,

Sungei Mandai Kecil mangrove is an important, and at present, an unprotected mangrove forest in Singapore. It is part of the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat, a 15.4 hectare patch of mangrove swamp located along the northwestern coast of Singapore. Read more about it’s significance on the 2013 workshop storify here.

On Sat 15 October 2016, pending permission from SLA/PCG, NUS Toddycats and friends are conducting a coastal cleanup in the back mangrove there.

This site is difficult to work in because of the soft terrain. The main bulk of trash is trapped amidst the vegetation of the back mangrove which is dense and has many thorny plants and is hard to get to in the undergrowth. It will require a lot of patience to remove. Previous cleanups at Sungei Mandai Kecil were small and only conducted in 1997 and 2014. Large amounts of trash has accumulated since. We will work sensitively in small teams to protect the vegetation, seedlings and roots in order to prevent excess impact.

We are calling out to experienced and dedicated coastal cleanups volunteers to join us on this mission!
Saturday 15 October 2016: 8.00am – 11.00am
Meeting Point: The gate at the former Sungei Mandai Kecil road, off Woodlands Road

Getting there
Map: http://tinyurl.com/ICCS2016SMKmap
By bus: from Kranji MRT station, take buses 160, 170, 178 and alight opposite Chartered Semi-C Building (Bus stop ID: 460510).
Driving: There is no parking space so drivers please park at Woodlands Town Centre and walk 15 minutes to the meeting point.

Packing list

  • 1.5 litres of drinking water (minimum)
  • Wear hard-soled, high-cut booties.
  • Light pants and a light long sleeves top (arm coolers) will protect you from insect bites and scratches from vegetation.
  • Inset repellent
  • A cap and sunblock
  • Raincoat/poncho
  • Towel, to wipe clean
  • Additional water, to clean up with
  • A change of clothes – you will get muddy
  • Waterproof your belongings
  • Pack minimally

To join us, please register at: http://tinyurl.com/iccs-smk2016

Thank you for your interest in protecting the environment!



Dengue/Zika advisory for ICCS Organisers, 02 Sep 2016

Dear Organisers,

here is an advisory about dengue and zika:

The urban mosquito Aedes aegypti is responsible for dengue and zika in Singapore. There have been more than 11,000 cases of dengue with seven deaths so far this year and we expect to see the number of cases increase. The detection of the zika virus, though less widespread, is harder to detect from symptoms and is currently appears to be on the increase.

Singaporeans can continue with their daily activity but must take precautions:

  • Be informed about dengue (NEA Guidelines) and Zika (MOH page) share the information
  • Do the 10-minute 5-step Mozzie Wipeout at home and at the workplace (NEA webpage)
  • Avoid dengue clusters where possible (check the NEA map and list) as well as zika affected areas and areas of concern (check recent news releases)
  • Prevent mosquito bites through:
    • i) protective dressing which covers exposed skin,
    • ii) the correct application of insect repellents with DEET (NEA webpage)
    • and iii) the use of mosquito nets while sleeping.

Organisers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore have cleanup dates over three weekends in September. Our cleanup sites do not overlap dengue hotspots, are not in affected areas of the Zika outbreak so far, and do not take place at the typical feeding time of A. aegypti, i.e. at dusk and dawn. Still, we are monitoring the situation closely and will alert you if there is cause for concern.

Our advise to Organisers is the following:

  1. Prevent – advise your participants to take preventive action through protective dressing and appropriate application of insect repellent once you leave the house. Check the DEET concentration and reapply the repellent as needed, especially if you perspire profusely.
  2. Support – Have an additional supply of insect repellent available for volunteers in case they do not have their own supply.
  3. Aware – Monitor news release of dengue hotspots and new cases of Zika though the NEA newsroom and local news agencies (e.g. Straits Times Zika microsite).
  4. Decide – If your cleanup site is in an affected area, call off your cleanup immediately; do not hesitate, and inform your zone captain.

Zone Captains will alert you if any critical information is released. Thus far, we have cancelled one cleanup site at Kranji East (03 Sep 2016) which was near an area of concern for Zika, and we are monitoring the status at another site at Kranji Bund (17 Sep 2016).

Priority: Safety!
Safety is a priority for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and participation in the coastal cleanup is entirely voluntary. We encourage all participants and Organisers to withdraw at any point that they feel uncomfortable with proceeding with a cleanup. It is better to err on the side of caution.

Have safe cleanup everyone!



N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
c/o Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Haze Advisory for ICCS 2016 Organisers, 31 Aug 2016

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore email to the 85 Organisers of the 25th ICCS 2016: the Haze Advisory for Organisers (31 Aug 2016), advice to monitor Zika outbreak sites through NEA News Releases and a reminder of the SOP – to reiterate to volunteers the Advice for Participants just before the cleanup.

Dear Organisers,

This is an advisory about the haze situation in Singapore in relation to your coastal cleanup event. This is for Organisers without formal organisational guidelines and who require advice about how to respond to the haze.

Note: Use NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings at haze.gov.sg (and not the 24-hour PSI)

  • No completely accurate forecast values are available but a daily forecast is provided at http://www.haze.gov.sg
  • NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings are the best indication of ground conditions for short-term activity such as a coastal cleanup of between 60 – 90 mins
  • NEA’s 1-hour PM2.5 readings are available at on the myENV app and at their webpage here

Here are our suggested guidelines using the 1-hour PM2.5 values for coastal cleanups: 

  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are more than 55.5µg/m3 (Band II Elevated), sensitive people should properly wear their N95 mask
  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are between 100 µg/m3 – 150 µg/m3 (upper region of Band II Elevated), everyone should properly wear an N95 mask 
  • If 1-hour PM2.5 values are more than 150µg/m3 (Band III Very High), call off the cleanup and inform your Zone Captain

Safety is the priority; Organisers decide about cancelling their cleanups as needed

  • Safety is the priority of any coastal cleanup exercise. 
  • The Organiser will call off their coastal cleanup at any point they feel they need to, even if pollution readings are not high
  • When in doubt, err on the side of safety to protect participants from both immediate and long-term effects. 
  • Please inform your Zone Captain about your cancellation so we may advise NEA about cancelling trash pickup.

Precautions for individuals with potential respiratory problems

  • Some individuals may have potential respiratory problems – Organisers must ask participants to declare their condition before their cleanup.
  • Assign such individuals data recording duty to avoid over exertion as a precaution against sudden changes in haze conditions.
  • Such individuals should, as always, bring their prescribed inhalers/personal medication with them.
  • Remind all participants to alert their Organiser about any feeling of discomfort they may be experiencing at any time.

Responsibilities of cleanup participants

Bring your mask and water

  • 1. All cleanup participants must bring their own N95 mask and to be familiar with its use; refer to the proper use of an N95 mask:

    • Six steps to wearing the N95 mask (MOH): link
    • Use of masks and availability of masks (MOH): link
  • 2. Wear your mask at anytime you feel it is necessary to do so, even if 1-hour PSI levels are not high.
  • 3. All participants must bring their own supply of water to hydrate well and frequently throughout the cleanup.

Alert your Organiser and take precautions

  • 4. Participants must advise their Organisers if they are feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort at any time; e.g. experiencing irritation of the skin or eyes, or of their nasal passages or throat. 
  • 5. Anyone who feels any discomfort should wash their face, wear their N95 mask and leave the site for a filtered air environment immediately.

Do not exert yourself

  • 6. Do not exert yourself when picking up and categorising trash to avoid strenuous work. 
  • 7. Large trash items such as barrels and tyres can be recorded without removal and may be left on the shore for removal another time.

— end —

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
c/o Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Join us @ Tanah Merah 7 on Sat 17 Sep 2016 as part of 25th International Coastal Cleanup Singapore!

On Sat 17 Sep 2016, more than half a million volunteers around the world will participate in the 31st International Coastal Cleanup! And as the sun rises over Singapore, some 3,500 volunteers from 80 organisations will hit the beaches and mangroves of Singapore in what will be our 25th year!

If you are not from an organisation or group but want to be part of the 25th ICC Singapore, look no further – join the NUS Toddycats & Independents team who will battle marine trash at Tanah Merah 7. We join five other organisations on that 900 metre long beach on Sat 17 Sep 2016: 8.00am – 11.00am.

Register through this link
Please sign up by 31st August 2016


Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Volunteers in Singapore, like other concerned individuals around the world, conduct coastal cleanups to remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to adopt sustainable practises in daily urban living.

Tanah Merah Beach 7 is a state land located in the east of Singapore, next to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT). This area is closed to members of the public and permission is needed for each access. The coastline of Tanah Merah 7 is alive with critters, big and small – read more about it here.

2015-05-25 10.54.35 2015-05-25 10.49.43

But amidst creatures lie heaps of plastic and styrofoam.

2015-05-25 11.26.57 2015-05-25 11.40.34

If you want to know more about what to expect on the day, see photos from ICCS 2014!

Come join us to make a difference on these shores!


  • 7:30am – Meet at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal Car Park D (take SBS bus no 35 from Tanah Merah MRT).
  • 8.00am – Operational & Safety Briefing including wet weather plans (stop for lighting); identification of the Trash Disposal Point (TDP). Organise into groups of four participants, apply insect repellant, collect gloves and trash bags; walk to site.
  • 8.15am – Cleanup begins @ TM7 Beach
  • 8.30am – Trash movement to TCP by Weighing Teams begin
  • 9.45am – Cleanup ends. Weigh trash, report data summary (under shade!); discussion/ reflection.
  • 10.15am – Transportation of trash to TDP.
  • 11.00am – Group photos at Car park D. Toilets are available at the Ferry Terminal building.
  • 11.15am – Event ends

Things to note

  1. Gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards. Without appropriate footwear, you will not be allowed on the site. 
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine if you are tolerant or unaffected.
  5. If there is a drizzle, we will continue the cleanup with our wet weather gear. If there are strong winds or lightning threat, we will halt the event.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/poncho or umbrella
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s a hard morning’s work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; the tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of TM7 for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for the environment!


Happy birthday Singapore! From 90 volunteers who celebrated with a mangrove cleanup!

Once again, members of the public joined NUS Toddycats in commemorating National Day by coming together to clear marine trash from our precious mangroves – 90 volunteers cleared half a tonne of trash (573kg) in 103 trash bags from Lim Chu Kang East mangrove this year.

The cleanup was relocated to this tougher site as our usual site at Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove has received enough tender loving care of late that it remains relatively clean – encouraging news indeed!

Before the buses from Kranji MRT with most of the buses arrived, a pre-cleanup check of the site was conducted. We identified two beautiful mangrove pit vipers in LCK East mangrove and marked off the area to ensure they would not disturbed by the cleanup crew.


The 90 volunteers were sorted into groups of 10 led by team leaders who were pushed through four insertion points into Lim Chu Kang East mangrove, slowly and carefully. Many hands make light work indeed and the small groups working hard amidst the vegetation also ensured we minimised our impact to the site.

We would not clear all of the trash that morning but the ICCS cleanup in September would take care of the rest. Meanwhile, it was good to realise see that the mangrove plant cover had improved considerably in LCK East mangrove.

I was really happy that I had NUS Toddycats with me – eleven of these experienced field biologists led small groups of volunteers deep into our plastic-ridden but precious LCK mangroves. Thanks to Amanda TanXu WeitingKenneth Pinto, Yang Yi YongFung Tze Kwan, Tan Chia WuTan Kai SceneAirani SAdriane LeeTeo Kah Ming & Theresa Su; also Joys Tan for handling pre-cleanup logistics. 

2016-08-06 10.18.08 pre-ND mangrove clean4p @ LCK East [AS]

It was a delight to see Sonneratia alba sprouting on the northern stream bank once again! We worked hard in this polluted stream to remove embedded plastic bags – the stream was still host to many crabs, fish, prawns, mudskippers and even horseshoe crabs, which still mate in the area.

Mangrover Theresa Su, the soothing sight of a capable field biologist amidst the mud!

2016-08-06 09.26.02


Organic pollutants from upstream was trickling down into the stream and raising an awful smell – this stinky organic effluent must be traced back to its source and eliminated. It pollutes the north-western mangroves in many spots, not just Lim Chu Kang East mangrove.

2016-08-06 09.53.07

Wheelbarrows are critically important in shifting half a ton of trash – we borrowed this from NUS CAPT, used the DBS pickup to bring to over to my RVRC office and rented a GoGoVan to transport it here in the morning – well worth all the effort! They will next be used at Tanah Merah during ICCS on 3rd September 2016.

2016-08-06 09.06.01 pre-ND mangrove clean0p @ LCK East [AS]

At the Weighing Station, volunteers weight and total up the weighed trash carefully! The weight does not reflect the number of items removed (e.g. a high amount of plastics is not heavy), but provides some indication at least of the amount of trash removed.

2016-08-06 10.34.40 pre-ND mangrove clean3p @ LCK East [AS]

A chain-gang of volunteers moved the accumulated half tonne of mangrove trash to the Trash Disposal Point, and thanks to the National Environment Agency’s Department of Public Cleanliness, their contractor will come at midday to help us with trash removal. All of such trash in Singapore ends up in an incineration point and its ash ultimately makes its way to the Pulau Semakau landfill the south.

What an amazing sight to behold once we were done, this is what a macro-trash free mangrove in Singapore would look like – may all our mangroves be as well-loved! #limchukang #mangrove #nationalday (Photo by Fung Tze Kwan)

2016-08-06 12.46.53


Always on hand, my first aid kits were thankfully needed just for one scratch today; sharing the comprehensive advise to participants before the cleanup, the pre-cleanup recce, the safety briefing with critical emphasis at the start, site captains and experienced independents amongst the volunteers, the slow and careful movement by everyone, the thick gloves issued to everyone, and the “gloves on always” rule – all of these help keep cleanups incident-free.

2016-08-06 15.40.17


Back at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, a few of us NUS Toddycats see to the cleaning of the muddy gloves and wheelbarrows. These will be set aside to dry and then are packed away for the next cleanup! #reuse

2016-08-06 11.58.04 pre-ND mangrove clean0p @ LCK East [AS]


Always head into tough terrain with some help – I was really pleased with the 11 @nustoddycats who stepped up to be site captains when summoned that morning – they kept everyone safe in the tough terrain! Here, my former honours students are lined up chronologically – Maria, sister of Theresa Su (Hons 2009), Xu Weiting (Hons 2010), Fung Tze Kwan (Hons 2011) & Amanda Tan (Hons 2012).

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Hearty greetings for Singapore’ 51st National Day in the sun from the wonderful volunteers!

2016-08-06 10.43.17 pre-ND mangrove clean2p @ LCK East [AS]