ICCS celebrates World Water Day this year with a coastal cleanup at Sungei Pandan Mangrove, (the SP2 site) on Saturday the 21st of March 2015. In preparation for this, the South Zone Captain Lim Cheng Puay and myself headed down to the mangrove for a recce on 24 Feb 2015.
The tide was high (3.00pm – 2.8m; 4,00pm – 2.8m) and we were able to observe the mangrove from walking along Jalan Buroh. In the first photo below, you can see the mangroves right in the center of the picture, where the river curves slightly leftwards.
Despite the high tide, accumulated trash was clearly seen on the strandline – and that was certainly a disconcerting sight. The mangrove was peppered with lots of styrofoam containers, plastic bags and disposable bottles – the usual suspects, along with aluminium cans and paper cups.
It was not all trash – mudskippers, snails, and the work of mud lobsters and mangrove crabs were clearly evident. With critters like these living in the mangrove, it is essential that we volunteers pay attention to our surroundings and avoid trampling lobster mounds, pneumatophores and burrow holes. To minimize our impact, there will be a limit of 50 people for the World Water Day event and they will be well distributed over the site.
Mud lobster mounds!
Cheng Puay also introduced me to some wild Passiflora (passion fruit),
which has edible seeds like its cultivated cousin!
This bus stop, along with another similar-sized sheltered area on the other side of the mangrove, will be the only places to shelter us from heavy rains in the case of bad weather. Here’s to hoping for a sunny 21st of March 2015!
We will have to be careful about weaver ants too! Cheng Puay picked up a few fiery bites, and we will have warn participants about “weaved” leaves during the cleanup.
As our recce took place during high tide, a second recce will be conducted closer to the actual date. The muddy mangrove waters might be hiding trash in lower zones and mudflats from our sight, so a low tide inspection beckons!
A second trash load is revealed during the low tide, with trash present even in between and around mangrove roots and participants will have to carefully navigate around mangrove structures to prevent damage.
We are looking forward to meeting our lovely volunteers that day, whom we have advised to come prepared with at least 1.5 liters of water and hard-soled covered shoes, preferably booties. Mosquito repellant and a hat is always handy! We will of course send them the “ICCS Advise to Participants” before the cleanup.
The effort to clear marine trash in the Sungei Pandan mangrove, a precious remnant of this ecosystem in the south of Singapore, has its origins in the mangrove mapping project at NUS in 1987! The first cleanup was organised in 2008 and tonnes of trash have been removed since and with great timing, the smooth-coated otter appears to have returned to the area! Read about that on Otterman’s blog, “Keeping old promises – clearing the trash in Sungei Pandan mangroves.”
It is great to be part of this, and visiting the cleanup site inspired me to sketch a watercolor piece which highlights the intricate ecosystem we are part of. Here’s to a meaningful and enjoyable World Water Day cleanup everyone!