On 12 Sept 2009, 19 senior officers from the Singapore Police Force went from protecting the nation to protecting the environment as they traded their revolvers for trash bags and got down to clearing the Pandan Mangrove, all in the name of environmentalism.
Coordinated by the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the Pandan Mangrove Cleanup attracted participants from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Raffles Museum Toddycats, the Department of the Biological Sciences (NUS) and independent volunteers as well. The cleanup was part of an international effort to cleanup and to collate information regarding marine litter.
Our men in blue started their operation at 8.30am and got right into the thick of action. It was a first experience for many of the officers, but there was no hesitation as they trudged deep into the mangroves and deftly navigated the uneven terrain interjected by muddy mounts, exposed roots and an assortment of marine litter.
Working in groups of 3, the officers scoured the mangrove for all manner of refuse and promptly bagged any debris found. There were various non-biodegradable waste strewed all over the mangrove floor, with the most prevalent being plastic bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam pieces and other industrial building materials like plastic sheets, pipes and rubber tires. In fact, the number of plastic bags collected amounted to almost 50% of all debris collected for that morning.
While deep in the mangrove, one officer even had a surprise encounter with a small water snake that was entangled in the tire he was attempting to clear. Without delay, our officers cautiously freed the snake which promptly slithered away deep into the mangrove.
By the end of the cleanup, the team from the Singapore Police Force had filled a total of 43 trash bags with debris from the mangrove weighing a hefty 233 kg. The team had collected a total of 2,620 items from just a 50 meter stretch. Collectively, participants from the cleanup amassed a total of 3,759 items weighing in at a total of 1,745 kg – see data.
In all it was an extremely enriching and educational experience for our officers as they were alerted to how marine debris can endanger the lives of many marine creatures like sea turtles, crabs and albatrosses. The waste that we carelessly discard might be accumulated in such mangroves, serving to proliferate the problem and escalate the level of threat to the precious myriad of marine life that inhabits these mangroves.
By P/INSP James Chng
Police Training Command
Home Team Academy
501 Old Choa Chu Kang Rd S698928
More photos on Flickr.