Announcing the ICCS Otters team 2012!

Coordinator: N. Sivasothi
Deputy Coordinator: Xu Weiting

Data Captain: Airani S.
Deputy Data Captain: Thng Hui Hien
Recce Captain: Andy Dinesh
Manpower: Jocelyne Sze
Photo & Web: Kenneth Pinto
Sustainability Captain: Marcus Tay

Zone Captains
Northwest Zone Captain: N. Sivasothi

Northeast Zone Captain: Ng Kai Scene
Northeast Deputy Zone Captain: Lim Chen Kee
Northeast Deputy Zone Captain: Yang Yi Yong

Changi Zone Captain: Airani S
Changi Deputy Zone Captain: Thng Hui Hien

Pulau Ubin East Zone Captain: Lei Lei
Pulau Ubin Deputy Zone Captain: Andy Dinesh

Pulau Ubin West Zone Captain: Chua Li Shan

Tanah Merah Zone Captain: Benjamin Tan
Tanah Merah Deputy Zone Captain: Gladys Chua

East Coast Zone Captain: Cai Hongxia

South Zone Captain: N. Sivasothi

Site Captains
Pulau Ubin Southwest – Athena Han
Pulau Ubin CJ – Rachael Li
Pulau Ubin CJ – Sabrina Tang
LCK East – Jessica Ker
Pandan – Kelly Ong
Pandan/Toddycats – Fung Tze Kwan
Semakau – Ron Yeo

VJC IP students learn about local marine life, threats & how to make a difference!

Eighteen Victoria Junior College Integrated Programme (VJC IP) students who have chosen Marine Biology as their elective learnt about Singapore’s marine biodiversity, threats and how they can make a difference when I turned at the college to give a lecture.

I was raring to go to showcase our local marine biodiversity after tweaking slides from my first exciting ICCS talk experience in 2011 for the Singapore American School Middle School.

18 students & teacher (Eric Lim) listening to stories of marine biodiversity, threats & how every effort counts!

The small group this time afforded opportunities for interaction and queries – the students were intrigued by the identities of sea stars, sea urchins and fishes I displayed and constantly excited, were having quite a lot of conversations with their peers. More time was spent on every single animal or issue raised and I also inserted in two short video clips this time – the release of turtle hatchlings at East Coast Park in August 2005 and the TED talk given by Captain Charles Moore in 2009 about the threat of plastics in our oceans!

Who doesn't love the video of baby turtles returning to the ocean?

I was pleasantly surprised when 1.5 hours passed by so quickly. This talk certainly helped expose these young students to the great diversity of marine organisms we have in our own backyard, the threats faced by the marine environment and how each individual can change their own actions and use their own influence to spread awareness to their others.

Priceless expressions on students' faces during the talk

Thanks to VJC teachers, Eric Lim and June Tan for extending their invitation for us to come and share our knowledge to these small group of interested students. Special thanks goes to Benjamin Tan, our newly elected Tanah Merah Zone Captain who came by to give support and also took all the photos!

Not there? Follow tweeps at the 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting at landlocked Salt Lake City!

Tweeting from the 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting, 20-24 February 2012, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, with the tag: #oceans2012 are –

You can use the tag search #oceans2012 to scroll back to catchup with the tweets due to the time difference – and find more who are discussing the conference proceedings.

It’s obviously not as good as the real thing but we can’t all be there at Salt Lake City. When you are enjoying the live tweets amidst the daily grind, do say thanks to all these science communicators!

Experience of a first time volunteer coordinator

Ching Yu hang is a first time volunteer coordinator and we are very proud that she has stepped forward to make a difference to the marine environment! Here she shares with us her first experience as a Volunteer Coordinator with the Tanah Merah team.

In the beginning…
34 people, from different walks of life.
90 mins of a Sunday morning.
A 250m stretch of coastal shoreline to be cleared.

On the morning of 11 February, 34 of us gathered at Tanah Merah (TM) Site 7 for a common goal. Though not everyone among the group knew one another, we  were all gathered and united with one vision – to do our part to conserve the biodiversity of the shoreline by a simple and manual act of clearing the trash accumulated at the coastline.

Armed with a pair of gloves, sunblock, insect repellent and a black trash bag, we were set to go!

A volunteer emptying the container of sand to return it to the beach where it is needed.

Volunteers in the shallows, picking up heavy and entangled trash from the water.

A dead flower crab, reminding us of the vulnerability of life on our shores.

The majority of the volunteers who came down that day were invited by the newly appointed Tanah Merah volunteer coordinators. They organised this cleanup with ICCS as a result ofa prior meeting to recruit new coordinators.

This journey was an entirely new experience to me. Although I had been a Site Buddy at Tanah Merah 8 and 9 with National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) during the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2011, the experiences were different in terms of who I interacted and worked with.

As a Site Buddy, I prepared the volunteers in advance for what to expect on the day of the cleanup. I briefed them on the main details through a briefing conducted at NVPC. When they of the coastal cleanup drew closer, Site Buddies remind volunteers about the meeting time and venue. Our interaction then was mainly with the volunteers and we were able to receive direct feedback and on ground comments about the event.

Volunteer Coordinators, however, work more closely with the core ICCS team and an Organiser. This time, we adopted the role of Organisers and met the ICCS earlier and they joined us for a recce trip of the site prior to the cleanup. They provided useful advise which shed light on how to coordinate a cleanup. Now that we are better informed and have executed a cleanup, we are confident about carrying out our role as volunteer coordinators in future.

The 11th February cleanup was a good gauge of our ability and readiness to take on our role as coordinators. We put into action what we learnt from the ICCS team and were able to better envisage the situation and by the time of the debrief, could identify real-life situations that could surface in future and how to respond to those.

Debrief after the cleanup as volunteers got to know more about the impact they just made

Group photo!

At the end…
340 KG of trash cleared
Millions of marine biodiversity life relieved
A sense of accomplishment achieved

Recce for First Year Round Cleanup at Tanah Merah

In preparation for the very first year round cleanup at Tanah Merah on the 11 Feb 2012, Benjamin Tan and Ching Yu Hang, both volunteer Site Buddies from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre together with ICCS Tanah Merah Zone Captain, Xu Weiting and ICCS Recce Captain, Andy Dinesh headed out to TM7 on the 29th Jan, Sun to have a look at the trash load that we will be cleaning up in two weeks’ time.

Photo of Benjamin (right at the front), Dinesh (centre) and Yu Hang (back) surveying the shore in front of the newly built Workers' Dormitory, which has a great sea view.

We were greeted by a relatively clean shoreline this time round. However, this depends on the currents and winds which might sometimes cause the trash to be accumulated in usually large amounts. Hence, in order to be prepared, a recce trip is highly essential for any planning of a shore cleanup.

This area would usually be covered up with trash! Now you can see the nice sandy beach!

Besides looking at the trash load, we also saw inhabitants of the beach. This gave me a timely reminder of the motivation behind cleanups held more regularly rather than only during the International Coastal Cleanup in September. Every cleanup effort is important in helping to remove the marine litter that has adverse impacts on marine organisms and habitats.

A soldier crab on the sandy shores, one of the many organisms that calls Tanah Merah its home.

However, as we proceeded along the long stretch of sandy shore, the clean image of Tanah Merah starting to vanish. Instead, we started to notice more trash stranded on the upper shores and along the vegetation edge. We definitely have work to do during the upcoming cleanup.

Discarded styrofoam boxes and bucket which might have been used previously by fishermen

Another important aspect about beach cleanups is safety. We encountered a single syringe on the TM7 shore and every year, we do get about 30 – 150 syringes per cleanup. In 2011, Singapore American School (SAS) found 33 syringes at their mangrove sites and this incident once again highlighted the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for every single cleanup, no matter how big or small.

Be safe & efficient! Be aware of your surroundings and always be careful of what you are picking up!

Below is another photo of the amount of trash (plastics, styrofoams and much more) awaiting for us to clear on the 11th Feb, Saturday. If you need more details of the cleanup, Site Buddy Gladys Chua has put out a blog post for any interested people.

With the start of the brand new year, let us not sit around and hope for the trash to vanish. Let’s take some action and do something about the marine litter found on our shores.