The marine trash on Tanah Merah beach is appalling!

25 May 2015 – Tanah Merah Zone Captain Joleen Chan and myself headed down to Tanah Merah Beach 7 in preparation for the World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup on 6 June 2015.

I was last here during the Chinese New Year Coastal Cleanup (26 Feb 2015) where we removed 43 trash bags of trash weighing 386 kg. The trash then was concentrated along the strandline, as the intertidal zone having been cleaned during last September’s ICCS and probably intermittently since by NEA.

At the recce now, trash was once again dispersed throughout the beach with not an area unaffected.

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The first section of the beach was already covered in styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) and other plastics. Plastic straws in particular stood out as they were visible throughout the intertidal zone.

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We picked up as many plastic straws we could find within a 2.5 m x 2.5 m quadrat and the count was 257 straws! Imagine the number of straws we could find over the entire beach!

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Left: The straws we picked in the 2.5m2 quadrant. Right: Joleen with a box filled with trash she collected.

Despite the depressing nature of our recce, we were fortunate to still see much marine life on the beach. Tanah Merah 7 is usually closed to members of the public and this relatively undisturbed. Marine life which can cope with the existing pressure on the shoreline has a chance to thrive!

We were excited to encounter a Haddon’s Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the first 10 minutes, and saw a smaller one towards the end of our recce!

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Haddon’s Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni)

As we assessed the trash load in subsequent bays, we heard a familiar sound of five smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) running from the vegetation towards the sea! We spent a happy 30 seconds watching them, before they disappeared behind the seawall and on their journey.

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Five smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)

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Left: Batillaria snails (Batillaria zonalis) were observed in large numbers throughout the shoreline. Here you can also see tiny strands of Tape Seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Right: Codium green seaweed (Codium sp.)

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Beautiful flowers of Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum) had dropped to the sand.

All that marine life surviving amidst the trash was a great reminder for why we conduct coastal cleanups. The beauty of the natural landscape, highlighted by individual organisms, was tainted by the mindless and countless pieces of styrofoam, straws, plastic bags and plastic bottles. Besides the biological and chemical impact on the environment, that trash reflects an absence of respect for nature.

To see a habitat so devalued and polluted saddened me greatly. The difference we will make during the World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup at Tanah Merah Beach must extend to action in our daily lives, as we realise the far reaching effectg of our urban lifestyles to the environment.

Celebrate World Environment Day with a coastal cleanup @ Tanah Merah 7!

In conjunction with World Environment Day, volunteers with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) will be conducting a marine trash cleanup at Tanah Merah Beach 7 on Sat 06 Jun 2015: 8.00am – 10.30am.

Registration is closed, thank you to everyone who signed up!

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World Environment Day is a day sanctioned by the United Nations (UN) that aims to raise global awareness about the environment and encourage everyone to take positive action to protect our natural environment.

Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Volunteers in Singapore, like other concerned individuals around the world, conduct coastal cleanups to remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to adopt sustainable practises in daily urban living.

Tanah Merah Beach 7 is state land located in the east of Singapore, next to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT). This area is closed to members of the public and permission is needed for access .

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At first view, Tanah Merah Beach 7 appears pristine. However, within the vegetation of the high strandline lies accumulated trash.

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Meeting Point: On the event day of 6th June 2015, we will meet at 7.45am at Carpark D opposite the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT), and walk over to the cleanup site.

Directions from Tanah Merah MRT to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT)

  • Participants can take bus 35 from the Tanah Merah MRT bus stop (bus code: 85091).
  • Alight 4 stops later, at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal bus stop (bus code: 96219).
  • Yang Yiyong (see image below) will be stationed at the TMFT bus stop, so alight when you see him! He will be wearing a bright red shirt.

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Directions to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT)

Itinerary 

  • 7:45am – We meet at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal carpark, and walk over to the cleanup site together.
  • 8.00am – Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Brief of wet weather plans (which is to carry on unless there is a lighting threat). Organise everyone into groups of four, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, and other required logistics.
  • 8.15am – Cleanup begins @ TM7 Beach
  • 9.30am – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time.
  • 9.45am – Transportation of trash to TCP.
  • 10.15am – Participants clean up. Recreational facilities are available at the nearby Ferry Terminal.
  • 10.30am – Event ends.

Things to note

  1. Gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. In the event of bad weather, we will continue the cleanup. The event will stop in the case of lightning threat.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of TM7 for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for the environment!

Observing recruitment of marine trash over 2 weeks @ Lim Chu Kang – World Biodiversity Day Coastal Cleanup

On 3 May 2015, 29 volunteers went with us to Lim Chu Kang Beach during “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!” and removed 892kg of trash.

2 weeks later, 32 of us headed down to Lim Chu Kang Beach again in commemoration of World Biodiversity Day and in 76 trash bags, removed 518kg worth of marine trash.

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Despite removing a huge trash load 2 weeks ago, Lim Chu Kang beach was once again littered with plastics and styrofoam when we returned on Saturday evening.

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Everyone working hard to free the mudflat of trash.

Although only 2 weeks has passed since our last cleanup, we still collected another 518kg worth of trash comprising of items like plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers and styrofoam pieces. This is only a tiny fraction of the trash that is polluting our oceans and coastal habitats.

Where does this trash come from? The production of plastic has soared since it first started getting produced in the 1950s, and in 2013 we were producing 299 million tonnes of plastic globally. As a lightweight and versatile material, plastic is no doubt an extremely useful invention. However, single use plastic items can end up accumulating in landfills or littering our beaches and mangroves.

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The production of plastic soaring from the 1950s to 2013. Source: statista.com, 2013.

Coastal cleanups can only do so much to lighten the burden of trash on our coastal environment. What can we do to address plastic pollution in our daily lives? Start small by rejecting single-use plastics like straws when buying iced drinks. Bring your own tumbler or coffee mug when you takeaway your morning coffee, or use your own lunchbox when you buy takeaway meals. These are easy things we can do to reduce our impact on our environment. Say no to single-use plastics, and spread the word of sustainability to your family and friends!

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We ended the cleanup with a debrief where we discussed actions we can take on to reduce our use of disposables.

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Thank you to everyone who came down on World Biodiversity Day, it was a great effort in caring for our Lim Chu Kang mudflats!

Celebrate World Biodiversity Day with a coastal cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang Beach!

In conjunction with World Biodiversity Day, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) will be conducting a cleanup at Lim Chu Kang Beach on Saturday, 16 May 2015: 4.00pm – 6.30pm.

Registration has closed, thank you to all those that signed up!
Transport is provided to the cleanup site from Kranji MRT

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World Biodiversity Day is a day sanctioned by the United Nations (UN) that aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Coastal cleanups are conducted by volunteers around the world to remove this trash, raise awareness on the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living towards sustainable practises.

Lim Chu Kang Beach is located in the Northwest of Singapore, next to Lim Chu Kang Jetty. Trash from the Johor Straits is regularly deposited on Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove.  The mangrove is an area where trash accumulates, which impacts wildlife in the area.

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Meeting Point: Participants can meet at the bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139) and will be transported to the cleanup site at Lim Chu Kang Beach.

Bus pick up point

Itinerary 

15:15 – Bus pick up at bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139)
15:45 – Arrive at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road.
16:50 – Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Brief of wet weather plans (which is to carry on unless there is a lighting threat). Organise everyone into groups of 4, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, and other required logistics.
16:00 – Cleanup begins @ LCK Beach
17:30 – Transportation of trash to TCP.
18:00 – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time.
18:15 – Participants clean up. Note that there are no recreational facilities nearby.
18:30 – Bus will transport participants from cleanup site back to Kranji MRT.

Things to note

  1. Transport to Lim Chu Kang Beach, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. In the event of bad weather, we will continue the cleanup. The event will stop in the case of lightning threat.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho (we will work in rain)
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent lunch – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of Lim Chu Kang Beach for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for our planet!

“Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up” – 30 volunteers remove 892kg of trash @ Lim Chu Kang Beach

3 May 2015 – 29 individuals from all over Singapore hit Lim Chu Kang Beach in conjunction with “Operation WE Clean Up!,” a movement led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC). Volunteers removed more than 892kg worth of trash, excluding many jerrycans, oil drums, large blue containers, and tyres!

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Left: Hauling back the remnants of a sofa back to the trash collection point.
Right: The sight of volunteers dispersed throughout Lim Chu Kang Beach

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Kudos to these two girls worked hard to remove all the pieces of plastic and styrofoam throughout the cleanup, and didn’t want to stop even when the cleanup was over!

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Left: Maludin, our ICCS South Zone Captain!
Right: Individuals who tackled the back mangroves

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The weighing of trash was efficient, and done surprisingly fast due to good coordination and teamwork!

We ended the cleanup session with a debrief, during which we discussed the 5 Gyres, sites of massive plastic accumulation in slow rotating currents within oceans around the world. Plastics in these places can remain there for decades to come. We also talked about microplastics in the environment, and explained the dangers of such small plastic microbeads in the oceans. These fragments, which can be broken down into sizes of less than 2mm, can be ingested by plankton. Plankton is ingested by fish, and as we consume seafood, the toxins from these plastics eventually find their way up the food chain onto our dinner plates.

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A big thank you to everyone who came down to make Lim Chu Kang a much cleaner place, especially to those who have been attending our 2015 coastal cleanups regularly. We look forward to meeting everyone at our next cleanup!

Registration opens for International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2015!

Announcement – ICCS 2015 Registration for Organisers

Greetings Organisers!

Mark the date – Sat 19 Sep 2015! – Organised volunteer groups and independent volunteers have been part of the International Coastal Cleanup program in Singapore since 1992. We are happy to welcome Organisers to this meaningful activity in 2015.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the international programme coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy in Washington DC, USA. Around the world on the morning of the third Saturday of September which is 19th September 2015, groups will conduct coastal cleanups to collect, categorise, record and remove trash from their shores.

The tidal height in Singapore (Sembawang) on 19 Sep 2015 is 1.19m at 8:07am, so the shores will be exposed at all sites and you an review this at sites.coastalcleanupsingapore.org.

Organisers can now register for participation and indicate your preferred sites and dates at registration.coastalcleanupsingapore.org.

ICCS map

The ICCS team will conduct the Site Allocations Exercise based on the Organiser’s experience with ICCS, earliness of registration, familiarity with the site, volunteer preparation, and site difficulty. The results of these exercises will be announced at the end of May and June and listed at status.coastalcleanupsingapore.org.

Registration will be close thereafter.

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Workshops for Organisers in July
The workshop will conducted by the Zone Captains at NUS and are meant for Organisers and their assistants only. The workshop is critical for new organisers but also useful to veterans to participate and anyone who needs help in reviewing the site recce and safety assessment checklist.

There will be three small group evening sessions for you to chose from on Wed 1st Jul, Thu 2nd Jul & Fri 3rd Jul 2015. Simply indicate your intent during registration and we will confirm your attendance later. If July is inconvenient, indicate your availabie period and we will try to arrange additional sessions at more suitable times.

You can also organize cleanups at any other time of the year if you wish to! Please see Year-Round Coastal Cleanup guidelines, and contact us accordingly.

Thank you for your interest in caring for the environment!

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore