The morning storm interrupts the Earth Day Coastal Cleanup at Tanah Merah

After many steaming hot days, coordinators packed sun block lotion and sent out an additional warning about sandflies. However this morning, storm clouds brushing the southern coast of Singapore, dumped a load of rain in the west and headed east. As the clouds began showing up in the skies above Tanah Merah, the Earth Day Coastal Cleanup coordinators were forced to evacuate the beach around 9.15am.

Lightning is a real threat so coordinators have to clear the beach – yet another responsibility of Coordinators and Organisers. Still, the storm will clear up soon, so let’s hope the interruption is not too long and they can return to the shore to continue the Earth Day cleanup in cloudy and cool conditions.

National Environment Agency
NEA: Rain Locations in Singapore

Rain interrupts Tanah Merah Earth Day cleanup
Photo by Xu Weiting

Earth Day celebrations – Sea Grass Angel Jocelyne Sze speaks at Queenstown Primary School!

As part of Earth Day celebrations this week, Jocelyne Sze the ICCS Manpower Captain aka “Sea Grass Angel”, spoke to students at Queenstown Primary School today.

She discovered for herself just how excitable primary school children every time we show them an animal from Singapore’s marine ecosystems! Their chatter is frenetic but it is exactly the effect we are hoping for!

Read about her experience on her blog at “Nature rambles“.

nature rambles


Earth Day 2012 celebration by ICCS team:

  1. 19 Apr 2012 – “Earth Day celebrations by ICCS begin with Maxine Mowe delivering our talk, “Life and Trash in the Sea”” – link
  2. 20 Apr 2012 – “I Think, I Care, I Act – reflections from 15 years of battling marine trash in Singapore” – link
  3. 23 Apr 2012 – “Earth Day celebrations – Sea Grass Angel Jocelyne Sze speaks at Queenstown Primary School!” – (this post)
  4. 28 Apr 2012 – Earth Day Coastal Cleanup @ Tanah Merah – a call to Organisations to hit the beach on Sat 28 Apr 2012 – link – update: report

Make a pledge this Earth Day – join us to battle marine trash on Sat 28 Apr 2012 at the Tanah Merah Year-Round Coastal Cleanup!

It’s Earth Day today! We care about the planet and want to express this through something meaningful. So in conjunction with Earth Day we have picked a day of low tide to conduct a cleanup of Tanah Merah Beach 7. The marine life there is harassed by man’s inescapable footprint – plastic bottles, glass pieces, plastic packaging, styrofoam bit and pieces and tar balls. This insult to the environment is painful to see and we want to bring some relief.

This Earth Day, we invite you to take step in making a difference to the environment by coming to examine the problem for yourself, be empowered when you help us reduce the trash load there, get motivated by the other dedicated and like-minded volunteers on the beach and encourage others on this planet by being part of A Billion Acts of Green!

All you have to do is signup here by Wed 25 Apr 2012:

To prepare yourself, do read:

You will be joining the Tanah Merah Volunteer Zone Captains and Site Buddies, Independent Volunteers like yourselves and volunteers from Starbucks Coffee, Gammon Construction, Ngee Ann Poly School of BA, Standard Chartered Bank and Gentle Paws!

Earth Day Coastal Cleanup 2012

ICCS Earth Day Coastal Cleanup 2012

Earth Day 2012 | Billion Acts of Green

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time?

And allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it

transforms us, and our future?”

– Chris Jordan, Midway (2012)

Zone Captains recce Tanah Merah for the Earth Day Cleanup

Earth Day is just round the corner!

In view of the upcoming cleanup at Tanah Merah on Apr 28th, 2012, Tanah Merah Zone captain: Benjamin Tan, Deputy Coordinator: Xu Weiting (formerly ICCS Tanah Merah Zone Captain) and I headed down to TM on the 14th of April to meet the organisers who will be involved in this Earth Day effort!

TM site 7 from a distance - A rather pleasant sight.

Sea view

A common sight - large cargo ships, tankers, ferries

After a slight delay, we finally set off to recce the beach!

Benjamin briefing the organisers before we set off!

Everyone listened intently as Benjamin spoke

Annie Layar, from Gammon Construction Limited (Singapore Branch), leading in the front!

Upon closer inspection of the beach, we noticed the following…

Littered with discarded bottles, glass pieces, styrofoam, packaging, and occasional balls of tar (remnants of the 2010 oil spill? See long-term effects of oil spill on marine life)

Exposed shore during low tide

The shore may seem bare, but the truth is far from it!

WildSingapore’s Tanah Merah marine life poster

Weiting holding the hermit for our friends to take a closer look!

These hermits are more active at night. Unlike true crabs with short calcified abdomens, hermit crabs’ abdomens are soft, long and curved. Because they lack their own hard shell, hermit crabs inhabit shells for protection against predation.

Me rambling on about hermit crabs and respecting wildlife

When a hermit crab outgrows its shell, it shops for another. They can be picky about the shells they choose. Witness the “Great Shell Exchange” as documented by Ria Tan on her blog.

Land Hermit Crabs are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. They used to be fairly common until, according to the Singapore Red Data Book, the implementation of many beach improvement schemes along recreational shores, which led to the clearance of ‘unsightly’ natural beach vegetation. Other factors that could have contributed to the decline of Land Hermits, especially on mainland Singapore, include the casual picking of shells by collectors as they strolled along beaches, as well as the pet trade.

Rare sighting of Land Hermit Crab in the day! (Coenobita violascens)

Read more about Hermit Crabs here and on Ria’s wonderful WildSingapore Factsheets!

A balloon cleverly disguised as Spongebob - Not a true sponge!

In other news, ill-disposed balloons, which eventually end up in our waters, are devastating to marine life! Like plastic bags and other discarded non-biodegradable trash, balloons can end up being ingested (albeit accidentally!) by turtles, and other marine life surrounding our waters AND those thousands of kilometres away. Yes, our disposable culture implicates life on a global scale!

One of many glass shards

Glass bottles in the midst of our marine life

During the recce, we saw quite a number of broken glass bottles, florescent tubes & other glass fragments. Do look out for these items and do not pick them up with your bare hands!

Slippers are not allowed

And for safety reasons, we’ll NOT allow volunteers to help if they are not wearing covered shoes.

Tread gently.

Make friends, not fiends!
During the beach cleanup, you may come across a myriad of seashore creatures. Please treat them with respect, and let us not forget that we’re the ones swinging by their neighbourhood!

Hitchhiking algae on a bazillion (Batillaria zonalis)

Just a mosaic of sand grains?

Sand bubbler art

Sand bubbler crabs are tiny and so well-camouflaged to its environment that we often miss them!

But just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there!

Sand bubbler crab (Scopimera sp.)

Their quality of life lies in our hands.

Going the distance

Independents, sign up today – get your friends to join you too!

Bring your own bottles of water!

Reducing is probably the most effective of all 5Rs! More

Help us get the message out!

Every day is Earth Day. Make a conscious effort to live more sustainably and Mother Earth thanks you!

Will you answer our call?

*Important Reminders*

We will be covering a long stretch of beach (approx. 1km) hence, there will not be a “base station” for personal belongings

  • Carry a small bag with face towel & sufficient drinking water (min. 1L)
  • Stay hydrated and rest well the night before
  • Sun block & insect repellent would be useful in this non-public beach

For answers to FAQs, do circulate this link to your fellow friends & colleagues.

Feel free to contact Benjamin Tan and I, if you have any other queries that are not addressed:

Tanah Merah Zone Captain

Benjamin Tan

HP: 8318 8433

Tanah Merah Deputy Zone Captain

Gladys Chua

HP: 9689 7600

Sivasothi on “I Think, I Care, I Act – reflections from 15 years of battling marine trash in Singapore”

At 2pm today, I will give a talk in in conjunction with the second Youth for Environment Day (YED) for MOE schools. The talk will be held at one of four key satellite schools, ACS (Independent). In attendance will be some 400 students from participating schools.

The actual date of YED is Earth Day which is on 22 April 2012.

This is one of four events which Raffles Museum Toddycats are marking Earth Day with. Maxine Mowe, recovered from her sore thoat to speak at her alma mater on Wednesday. Jocelyne Sze will speak at Queenstown Primary on Monday and next Saturday is the Earth Day Cleanup at Tanah Merah.

I’ll have to sort out a new narrative for this talk in the morning. More emphasis on action in our daily life, for example, as that will tie in neatly to their workshops happening after the talk. Ria Tan of WildSingapore pointed them my way after her Green Drinks talk.

“I Think, I Care, I Act – reflections from 15 years of battling marine trash in Singapore”

N. Sivasothi aka Otterman
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Abstract – biologist N. Sivasothi aka Otterman fell in love with the shores of Singapore which are home to amazing creatures like horseshoe crabs, mudskippers, monitor lizards, crocodiles, otters, turtles and dolphins. The trash on the shore was shocking and concerned, he began coordinating the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.

Over a decade later with a dedicated team and the efforts of some 4,000 volunteers from more than 60 organisations and schools, the source of the problem is now also fought in our homes – the biggest culprit is single use disposable plastic and a lack of awareness about the impact of our lifestyle on every corner of this precious earth. “

Originally posted at Otterman speaks….

Earth Day celebrations by ICCS begin with Maxine Mowe delivering our talk, “Life and Trash in the Sea”

Earth Day falls on 22nd April 2012. and ICCS Otters will mark the date with a few simple contributions. Two talks will be conducted before Earth Day, while a third talk as well as an Earth Day cleanup the week after.

For the first of three talks, I roped in Department of Biological Sciences graduate student Maxine Mowe. She is an effervescent sort and once I learnt she was alumni of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) Toa Payoh, , I was glad to have her go back instead. Despite a busy schedule, she agreed readily.

She had a great time, but she did have a bout of nervousness the night before!

Speaking for the planet

Maxine Mowe reflects:

“Going back to give a talk in the very school that I graduated from thirteen years ago was surreal and nerve-wrecking at the same time.

When Siva first asked me to give a talk about marine life in Singapore and the threat of marine trash, I was excited. For this is a topic close to my heart since I was eleven and here was an opportunity to share this message with IJ girls of that age. It was a simple one caring for the environment is important to protect what we have and maybe even regain what we have lost.


Facing a crowd of 1,000-plus little IJ girls in uniform, I couldn’t help but feel happy and excited! During the talk., they were so responsive that their yelling of answers and excited chatter had me wait on them a couple of times. All this reminded me what it was like to be their age again.

I engaged their attention by asking them questions and they thought about those, and got involved with responses. I was very impressed at the level of understanding and the compassion these little girls had for the environment, especially when I showed them pictures of how our trash is harming our marine life.

Maxine enthralls

IJ girls agog, listening to their super senior!

I bring my own bottle!

Maxine with her former teachers

The icing on the cake came later – I was told by one of the girl’s grandmothers (an ex-teacher of mine) that hr granddaughter, upon questioning, shared the take home message of proper trash disposal and telling others not to litter. I sure was glad the message got through!

Strolling in to this school to tell little girls to care for the environment may not be a big occasion to many people. I on the other hand, had come from this school and sat in these halls. The importance of the occasion was clear and even made me nervous the night before. It was indeed a momentus occasion to deliver this one talk about marine life.

It could shape their future thoughts and actions, and is huge for me to be able to do this., and I was happy to contribute to this effort for our planet!”

“Once an IJ girl, always an IJ girl!”

“Thanks for the opportunity Siva!”

Not at all, thank YOU Maxine and Happy Earth Day!

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time? Across an ocean of grief”

It affected me the moment I found out decades ago, that the albatross, so beloved of mariners of old for their presence in a harsh ocean beyond the reaches of most men, that it would be so vulnerable to our touch by everyday plastic.

Midway“, is a film by Chris Jordan whose photographs we have used in coastal cleanup public education talks. Follow Midway Journey on twitter.

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time? And allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transform us, and our future?”

Thanks to Neo Pei Jun for the alert about the trailer.