The ICCS Briefing rejuvenates on a wet Saturday morning!

Some 100 volunteers and members of the public roused themselves on a wet, wet morning of a public holiday to attend the talk on “Marine Life in Singapore and the Impact of Man,” by N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman.

The annual lecture is conducted by the coordinator of the ICCS for volunteers attending the coastal cleanup around Singapore and this year was extended to members of the public.

It was a public holiday for Singapore citizens to vote for the president of the country – we could not shift the date though, because every Saturday until the coastal cleanup was busy. On the advise of friends who have been polling agents, it as decided going head with the briefing in the morning was a good option as polling booth queue taper off by late afternoon and are absent by evening.

Excitement aside, with the energy in the LT was sleepy and Siva started slow and easy as he dealt with the changes to Singapore’s natural landscape over the years, and the amount of natural habitats we have lost. That was merely preamble to the question, “Is there anything left?”

The audience then perked up at the animated stories, photos and videos that Siva shared of marine life in Singapore – baby turtles, dugong dissection, leaping dolphins, crocodiles, iconic mudskippers and wrestling monitor lizards.

ICCS Briefing 2011 @ NUS LT 25
The audience is listening

The story behind the monumental few seconds appearance of our humble mangroves on David Attenborough’s Life in Cold Blood, adorable otters and the threat to prehistoric horseshoe crabs also piqued the crowd’s interest and excitement.

ICCS Briefing 2011
Ahem, yes, it was tough for some to get up early on a rainy, Saturday public holiday!

Siva guzzled some coffee brought to him during the ten-minute break to warm himself up and then introduced the ICCS Oters who had come (most had been encouraged to take the day off)”

  • Andy Dinesh (Recce Captain),
  • Xu Weiting (East Coast/Tanah Merah Zone Captain),
  • Airani S (Data Captain),
  • Marcus Tay (Changi Zone Captain) and
  • myself, Jocelyne Sze (Volunteer Manager).

He then addressed the threats faced by our marine environment from freshwater flood incidents, oil spills, pollution and most pertinently, marine trash. The history and motivation behind the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore featured a quarter-century old photo and led to the critical section for eager volunteers, “What happens on the actual day?” Siva had stepped up his pace and the crowd was hyped up now!

After the emphasis on marine trash, the important discussion about what individuals can do to help ended off on a very inspired note! All this ended minutes before the promised 11.00am so people could go for lunch and go vote! (:

Andy Dinesh took a video of the entire talk, and here it is!

Meeting old and new friends is always a delightful part of ICCS and Martha Began of Singapore American School which is a 20-year veterans, came with a bunch of her students and members of their SAVE club.

Martha Began & Sivasothi

As the Volunteer Manager, I was busy attending to a few independents, site buddies and even new organiser Bhavani Prakash who is stepping up to coordinate a cleanup for her friends, who is away doing the same in Bali this year.

ICCS Briefing 2011

While we were busy chatting, a bit of photo-taking went on as most of us would be working in different sites on the day of the cleanup. We were in good company that day and some students from Tanglin Trust School will be taking a step further and joining Raffles Museum Toddycats to talk about their plans for biodiversity exhibitions next week.

ICCS Briefing Tanglin Trust

The ICCS volunteers and members of the public certainly left left with a better awareness of the marine life we have and the motivation, issues, urgency and details for a safe, efficient and green cleanup on the 17th of September 2011. See you at the beach soon everyone!

Congratulations to Jack Chong (Woodlands Ring Secondary) for his stalwart record of nurturing students

Ten years ago, Jack Chong, whom I had know from his university days in the department and in the Biological Sciences Society, signed up 30 Secondary two and three students from Woodlands Ring Secondary School for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore at Kranji Mangroves. Together with other groups, 278 participants removed 2,673 kg of trash (excluding bulky items) in 368 trash bags on 8th September 2001!

But Jack never came back!

You see, with that experience under his belt, Jack initiated the mangrove cleanup in the northeast of Singapore at Loyang Mangrove – now, Woodlands Ring Secondary is a 11-year veteran of the coastal cleanup and this year once again, Jack will lead 120 students to the shore to protect the mangrove and they will learn about marine life, the impact of marine debris and how all of us can make a difference.

Jack and Woodlands Ring Secondary are a fuss-free, competent organisation, address holistic educational goals, register and submit data painlessly each year. The present Northeast Zone captain, Ng Kai Scene, always speaks of them with a smile!

We have known all this while that Jack is a very busy man at school, working industriously and whole-heartedly. So he is mentioned warmly at meetings but I have probably not spoken to him for almost a decade!

Well I stumbled across some pleasant news today – Jack received the President’s Award from Singapore’s President S R Nathan this evening! This is the highest honour for educators and the newspaper report reads:

Pauline Chong
Photo by Pauline Chong

“Five teachers who have displayed exceptional dedication to their profession have been awarded with the 2011 President’s Award for Teachers.

They are Madam Dianaros Majid from Haig Girls’ School, Ms Serene Han from Montfort Junior School, Madam Chua Mui Ling from Woodlands Ring Primary School, Mr Ganesan Raman from Fairfield Methodist (Secondary) School and Woodlands Ring Secondary School’s Chong Jack Sheng.

This annual award established in 1998 recognises the commitment of teachers towards the development of their students and to nation-building, and is the highest honour for educators here.

Said Mr Chong, 37, a Biology teacher who also heads the Character and Citizenship department in Woodlands Ring Secondary: ‘I feel blessed and honoured to have been given this award. I felt quite overwhelmed initially but now that this has sunk in, the reality is that pursuing excellence in teaching is what I do, with or without an award.

‘I want to continue to help my students and nurture them to their fullest, even beyond their fullest potential.’

The winners received the award from President S.R. Nathan at the Istana on Friday evening. “

– “5 receive President’s Award, highest honour for educators,” by Leow Si Wan. The Straits Times, 26 Aug 2011 [pdf]

Woo-hoo! Congratulations Jack, from all of us at the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, past and present!

In celebration, I dug up some photos from his 2001 foray in Kranji Mangrove, from before Kranji Nature Trail was opened and it was no man’s (state) land. As you can see, we had some fun in those days, just getting to and from the site!

Meanwhile, is Jack resting on his laurels? His wife writes, “Jack’s going down to set up site for ICCS tom! Busy busy busy!”

Jack Chong, Woodlands Ring Secondary
@ ICCS Kranji Mangrove, 8th September 2001.

Woodlands Ring Secondary School students
– they would be 24 and 25 years old now!

Jack and the ICCS Kranji team supervising
the water crossing in the rising tide.

For more photos, see the ICCS 2001 albums and for the Kranji mangrove cleanup story see the RMBR Newsletter No. 2 (2002).

“Marine Life in Singapore and the Impact of Man” – Sat 27 Aug 2011: 9am-11am @ NUS LT25

The annual ICCS Briefing will feature the following talks:

“Marine life in Singapore” and “The impact of marine debris” by N. Sivasothi.

In addition the operations of the International Coastal Cleanup will be discussed and what the data collected tells us.

Saturday 27 Aug 2011: 9.00am – 11.00am
Lecture Theatre 25, Faculty of Science
(next to the Science Canteen)
National University of Singapore

All are welcome, even if you are not part of ICCS – we have plenty of space in the LT. Just register by going to:

What it takes to coordinate the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Coordinating some 75 organsations who bring more than 4,000 volunteers to the beaches and mangroves of Singapore for the International Coastal Cleanup does take some effort! It is carried out by the volunteer team of ICCS Otters who have been at this for anything from one to 15 years!

This is because coordination goes well beyond answering and sending emails.

We walk the ground to ensure coastal sites receive adequate attention, explore new areas previously neglected or newly opened, match suitable organisers to specific areas and prepare organisations for a safe, efficient, educational and green cleanup and place motivated Site Buddies amongst various groups. We are determined that people who hit the beach know what and why they are collecting data about trash on shores that day and want to something about it thereafter.

And, of course, ensure everything is well coordinated.

Here are most of the dates when we were busy, excluding training of new appointment holders, exploratory recces, meetings with new Organisers, helping to setup year-round cleanups here and overseas and enhancing special programmes.

By spacing out our calendar, we have manage to maintain our sanity somewhat – everyone has a day job which, typically in Singapore, often extends into the night – necessitating late night exchanges! The mix of veterans and newbies in the coordinating ICCS Otters team keeps the management of this 20-year programme on track.

In the midst of it all, this year, we conducted the IAVE Workshop for youth and the National Day Cleanup! In other years, we have setup cleanups in Bintan and Penang – and the latter is still ongoing!

What keeps us going beyond our personal motivation are the many people who chip in to help in small ways. The feedback from volunteers or Organisers. The feeling on a daily basis that we are chipping away at the ills of the environment.

Best of all, it’s meeting motivated Organisers who work hard at planning a meaningful event with follow up action. We do want them to have the support of like-minded people in their efforts to help protect the planet!

Meetings 2011

  1. Thu 17 Feb 2011 – N. Sivasothi review w/Lim Chen Kee & Andy Dinesh [Phase 0 – Design]
  2. Sat 19 Mar 2011 – 1st ICCS Otter meeting: Planning [Phase I – Plan]
  3. Sat 21 May 2011 – 2nd ICCS Otters meeting: Review site allocations [Phase II]
  4. Thu 02 Jun 2011 – N. Sivasothi meets with Zone Captains
  5. Fri 03 Jun 2011 – N. Sivasothi meets with Zone Captains
  6. Mon 04 Jul 2011 – 3rd ICCS Otters Meeting: Preparatory Discussion for Organisers Workshop [Phase III – Prep]
  7. Sat 20 Aug 2011 – 4th ICCS Otters Meeting: Review and confirm site allocations [Phase IV – Execute]
  8. Sat 17 Sep 2011 – International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (AM) / Data processing (PM)
  9. Fri 30 Sep 2011 – 5th ICCS Otters Meeting: Debrief (evening) [Phase V – Reflect]

Registrations, 2011

  • 21 Mar 2011 – Veteran Organisation registration open
  • 23 May 2011 – Registration for Organisers open
  • 23 May 2011 – Registration for Site Buddies open
  • 08 Aug 2011 – Registration for Independent Volunteers open

Talks/Workshops, 2011

  • Singapore American Middle School, 31 May 2011 – Xu Weiting & N. Sivasothi.
  • Talk to NVPC volunteers (NVPC), 01 Jul 2011
  • ICCS Workshop, 09 Jul 2011 – ICCS Otters
  • ICCS Workshop for OBS Instructors (PUlau Ubin), 16 Aug 2011 – N. Sivasothi
  • Raffles Girls School (RGS), 23 Aug 2011 – N. Sivasothi
  • ICCS Briefing, 27 Aug 2011 – ICCS Otters

Recce Trips, 2011


  • Kranji East mangrove, 12 Mar 2011 – N. Sivasothi, Lee Bee Yan, Andy Dinesh w/Organisers Steve Early and Martha Began. [link]
  • Kranji East mangrove and Sungei Buloh WR West mangrove, 08 Jun 2011 – N. Sivasothi, Kate Thome, Mendis Tan and Desmond Lee. [link]
  • Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove and Lim Chu Kang East mangrove, 16 Jul 2011 – N. Sivasothi, Jessica Ker, Yang Yi Yong with Organisers Vionna Luah, He Miao & Derek Ang. [link]


  • Sembawang, Selimang, Sungei Seletar, Punggol, 03 Apr 2011 – Ng Kai Scene, Lim Chen Kee & Cheong Wei Siong. [link]
  • Pasir Ris, 09 Apr 2011 – Ng Kai Scene, Lim Chen Kee & Cheong Wei Siong. [link]
  • Sungei Seletar, 03 Jun 2011 – Lim Chen Kee w/Organiser, Pei Hwa Secondary
  • Sungei Tampines, 04 Jun 2011 – Ng Kai Scene and Andy Dinesh
  • Pulau Serangoon, 22 Jun 2011 – N. Sivasothi, Jessica Ker, Meryl Theng, Lee Bee Yan & Eileen Chia (NParks) [link]
  • Pasir Ris Site 6, 30 Jul 2011 – Ng Kai Scene w/Organiser, CHIJ Katong Convent
  • Sembawang Park, 14 Aug 2011 – Cheong Wei Siong w/Organiser, Standard Chartered Bank, MEWR,
  • Selimang Park, 14 Aug 2011 – Cheong Wei Siong w/Organiser, NVPC
  • Sungei Seletar, 20 Aug 2011 – Lim Chee Kee w/Organiser, LTA

Pulau Ubin

  • Pulau Ubin, 23 April 2011 – Teo Kah Ming, Kok Oi Yee and Ng Kai Scene
  • Chek Jawa, 8 May 2011 – Teo Kah Ming and Marcus Tay
  • Pulau Ubin western shores, 21 Jun 2011 – N. Sivasothi and Chua Li Shan. [link]
  • Chek Jawa, 25 June 2011 – Teo Kah Ming, Kok Oi Yee, Rachael Li w/Alan Tan (NParks)
  • Chek Jawa, 23 July 2011 – Teo Kah Ming, Andy Dinesh, w/Organiser from Blacks Rugby Football Club, NPCC HQ, Sukyo Mahikari Singapore, SAF Transport Hub East and Otis Elevator
  • Pulau Ubin, 24 July 2011 – Athena Han w/Organises from IBM PDL, Maris Stella High School (Primary) Green Ambasadors & ODEAC Club


  • Changi, 8th May 2011 – Jocelyne Sze, Marcus Tay & Teo Kah Ming

East Coast/ Tanah Merah

  • Tanah Merah, 17 May 2011 – Cai Hongxia, Xu Weiting, Lee Bee Yan & Andy Dinesh
  • East Coast, 26 May 2011 – Cai Hongxia & Xu Weiting
  • Tanah Merah Sites 8 & 9, 7 Aug 2011 – Andy Dinesh, Gail Stubber (ANZA), Tom Maertens (AECOM), Rowena Zhang & Flynn Tan (NVPC)
  • Tanah Merah Site 7, 14 Aug 2011 – Andy Dinesh, Cai Hongxia, Mary-Ann Khoo & Iqbal (NVPC), Kwek Chik Khoon (ITE College East) & AJ (SUVEC)


  • Pandan Mangrove, 13 May 2011 – Kelly Ong [link]
  • Pandan Mangrove, 24 Jul 2011 – Kelly Ong & Andy Dinesh.
  • Pandan Mangrove, 25 Jul 2011 – N. Sivasothi.

Phase IV – Execute! The 4th ICCS Otters meeting this Sat

We are gearing up for the The International Coastal Cleanup Singapore in September 2011 with recces and final registrations. More than 4,000 volunteers from 72 groups will hit beaches and mangroves in Singapore to collect, categorise and count marine trash.


We completed a workshop for Organisers and I did a rerun for OBS instructors organising student alumni at beaches in western Pulau Ubin for the first time.

The ICCS Briefing is next Saturday and I will drop in on Raffles Girl’s Secondary School for a special talk on Tue 23 Aug 2011 – it is their 20th year participating in the cleanup! We did likewise for 300 students at Singapore American School’s Middle School and will return for a talk to the High School students – these schools are also 20-year veterans.

Meanwhile the Zone Captains have been conducting recces with Organisers. We have learnt that Sembawang Beach is partially closed. And that Tanah Merah 7 & 8 needs more help. There will be other adjustments to sort out at this time, and then we notify NParks and NEA about our island-wide activity.

So we ALL meet for only the fourth time this year on Saturday. And soon, we’ll hit the beaches with the volunteers!

Calendar 2011 « News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Independent Volunteers – registration is now open!

Dear Independents,

Volunteers who want to contribute to the protection of the environment through ICCS but who do not have a group or organisation, are invited to sign up as Independent Volunteers. We will allocate you a site or group to join.

I am pleased to inform you that registration for Independent Volunteers is now open at:

Be sure to come for the ICCS Briefing too! See

Thank you for interest in protecting the environment!

Happy National Day everyone!



N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Registration for the ICCS Briefing is now open!

The ICCS Briefing is meant to inform and prepare Site Buddies, Organiser’s assistants and Independent sign-ups who are participating in and assisting with the International Coastal Cleanup.

New Organiser who missed the Organiser’s workshop are recommended this Briefing as well.

The ICCS Briefing will be held on Saturday 27 August 2011: 9.00am to 11.30am at the National University of Singapore, LT25.

Please read the details and register through the link at:

I discuss why we do the cleanup – marine life in Singapore, the impact of marine debris, why we collect data, what the data tells us, changes in daily living to reduce impact on our oceans, what happens on the day of the cleanup, how to be safe, how to report the data and share news and photos.

You will also meet your Zone and Site Captains at the Briefing. We look forward to meeting you there.

Happy National Day everyone!



N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

National Day cleanup – sixty four clear more than a tonne of rubbish in 133 bags of trash from Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove

64 volunteers answered the call and trooped down to Lim Chu Kang road end today to clear the rubbish strewn along Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove in an early celebration of National Day!

After a mere 60 minutes of intense but back-breaking effort, the sixty-four volunteers removed 1187.5kg in 133 trash bags and numerous bulky items. Last year’s effort saw 42 volunteers clear 811.3kg of trash in 116 trash bags and 20 bulky items.


  • Flickr album – 226 photos by Kenneth Pinto. [link]
  • Flickr album – 20 photos by Joelle Lai. [link]
  • Flickr album – 21 photos by Kevin Lim. [link]
  • Flickr album – 64 photos by Andy Dinesh. [link]
Here is the video of the post-CleanUp appreciation talk given by N. Sivasothi.

Here is the group photo Andy Dinesh emailed me soon after getting back and I have highlight the faces of the many enthusiastic individuals who turned up to fight a battle for the environment this Saturday morning.

Not in photo: Andy Dinesh and Kenneth Pinto (videography and photography).