After a flurry of emails the past couple of weeks between Anand (Miss Earth liason), Dewi (LCK Site Captain) and myself, we were really pleased to be heading down at Lim Chu Kang mangroves this morning. It was a pleasant journey spent chatting with the Miss Earth ladies and the nature/environment volunteers who came, including some of the ICCS organisers. We reached Lim Chu Kang road end at about 8.30am, and kept the fishermen and the military boys company for the morning.
The team comprised of Miss Earth Singapore contestants, Eco magazine writers who came long to interview them, and nature and environment volunteers from various groups in Singapore. Everyone toiled with good cheer and industry, working well together and removed more than 250kg of trash and bulky items relieving the mangrove of a considerable load.
Though we had meant to keep to the beach, several of us began venturing into the periphery of the mangroves which the trash line straddles. A lot more trash still persists but we will tackle this slowly and steadily over the next few years.
A large number of plastic bags were half buried in the sand and mud. This is due to the lack of frequent cleanups which allow the accreting sand to bury over time.
Another prominent item were ghost nets. One had trapped a couple of horseshoe crabs and we released the one that was still alive – it took quick work with a scissors brought specifically for such situations.
We were unable to remove most of the nets which had been half-buried. These posed less of a danger than fresh ghost nets so we will return another day with the proper set of tools to tackle these.
The biologists and naturalists present introduced some examples of mangrove life to the group – crabs, onchidiums, drills and other snails, mangrove plants and the horseshoe crab we saved. I took the opportunity to also chat with the ICCS organisers who had joined us that day – it was a relaxing session for them as it was worry free – unlike their ICCS session in September!
The mangrove introduction session also served as a rest and water break before we started hauling out the accumulated trash to the bin site. As we worked, the tide and rain clouds arrived at Lim Chu Kang. However, many hands made light work and the trash was directed out quickly for weighing and a final toss into the bin.
As we waited for the bus, we relaxed, changed and chatted. Major Gene Tan who had dropped in on the SAF guys on duty at Lim Chu Kang complimented us on the morning’s work – and asked us to come more often 🙂 He says the plastic was also a potential dengue threat and was appreciative of cleaned beach. We were certainly satisfied by the our morning’s work!
A bunch of Toddycats returned to NUS with the participant’s used gloves and employed our limnologists’ tubs to remove the excess mud – familiar work for Marcus, Dewi and Dongrong (ICCS-NUS)!
The rinsed and wrung out gloves were laid out to dry in the hot sun and were turned over after lunch to get dry and toasty. And the normally operationally-fixated Toddycats did remember to take a group photo this time!
As Anand, Airani and I flipped through the photos over a cup of coffee later at the Science Canteen, we agreed that the Miss Earth contestants we had worked with were a cooperative and enthusiastic bunch who were not afraid to get their fingers dirty – literally, for we had to remind them to keep their gloves as we were hauling trash out at the end!
Its good to know we have them out there as environmental ambassadors and the Toddycats wish them all the best in the year of activities ahead of them!
Photos by Airani.