Zone Captains recce Tanah Merah beaches in May [Gladys Chua writes]

I joined the Tanah Merah Zone Captain, Hwang Wei Song and his deputy, Ezra Two during their recce trip of non-recreational beaches in their zone. We combed the beaches of Tanah Merah Sites 1-9 which spanned 4.31 kilometres, over two consecutive Sundays in May.

Tanah Merah Sites 7-9 (5th May 2013: midday (1.03 meter tide at 1:45pm)  and Tanah Merah Sites 1-6 (12th May 2013: evening, 1.26 meter tide at 6:31)

Increased trash load and erosion

There was an overall increase in trash deposits (categorised as a medium-high trash load) from TM sites 1 to 9. As we waded through the sea of trash, we were careful to watch our every step as we noticed the rusty nails embedded in discarded wood. Plastics were abundant and there was also countless glass shards lying around.

As such, we can never stress enough the importance of wearing covered shoes, wearing thick gloves, and watching where you step and what you pick up during beach cleanups. Never work hastily either.

Gazing at the strandline

Wei Song gazing at the strand line (TM Site 7)

An array of disposables (TM 7)

An array of disposables (TM 7) \\ Photographed by Ezra Ho

Remnant oils? (TM Site 6)

Remnant oils? (TM Site 6) \\ Photographed by Ezra Ho

A regular looking washed-up board?

A harmless looking washed-up board?

Upon closer inspection, we see rusty nails protruding!

Upon closer inspection, we see rusty nails protruding!

We observed significant coastal erosion at TM sites 5 and 6. When conducting their own site recces closer to the cleanup date, organisers should take note of uprooted trees, or trees with exposed roots, as they could pose as a safety hazard during the September cleanup activity.


Exposed roots (TM Site 5)

Construction works

Due to construction activity at sites TM8 and TM9, these sites will be closed this year. The presence of heavy machinery in the vicinity of the access point poses a safety issue and the main road is dominated by heavy vehicle traffic and very poor air quality. This makes the frequent crossing and/or extended waiting undesirable. So the area is unsuitable to work in at the present time. We will keep an eye to see if this status changes.

Tanah Merah Coast Road

Poor air quality along Tanah Merah Coast Road

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Heavy vehicles dominating the road

Sea of debris (TM Site 9)

Sea of debris (TM Site 9)

Heavy machinery blocking access point (TM 8&9)

Heavy machinery blocking access point (TM 8&9) \\ Photo by Ezra Ho

Fallen tree (TM 8&9)

Fallen tree (TM 8&9) \\ Photo by Ezra Ho

Recce trips are important!

Tanah Merah Organisers should conduct a risk assessment during the scheduled recce trip on Saturday, 27 Jul 2013: 8am-12pm. Do ask your zone captains questions during your recce trip and during the ICCS Workshop . A safe cleanup is a priority in the ICCS program.

Tanah Merah Zone Captain Hwang Weisong & Dy Ezra Ho

Tanah Merah Zone Captain Hwang Weisong & Dy Ezra Ho

We hope to see you then!

The recce report by Zone Captains is available here:

See Ria Tan’s post about marine life offshore of TM7 at Wild Shores of Singapore.

Help battle marine trash on World Oceans Day cleanup @ PR6 (9th June, 8.30am)

It’s World Oceans Day on the 8th June! What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day by doing meaningful for our shores? The seas have provided us with much resources, many of which we have taken for granted, food and even oxygen from phytoplankton. Even if you live far inland, the oceans and us are interconnected on many different levels.

This World Oceans Day, we encourage you to take this opportunity to give back to the oceans! Make a difference to the marine life that call our shores their home and personally experience the impacts of plastic on our shore. We invite you to come celebrate World Oceans Day with a 90 minutes coastal cleanup activity at “hidden beach paradise”Pasir Ris Site 6 (PR6).

Sign up here by Wed 6th June 2012:

Your efforts will help reduce the high trash load at PR6 which usually consists of plastic bags, food wrappers and straws. These plastics can cause damage to the marine ecosystem and might eventually break down to microplastics and enter the food chain. These concentrations of toxic chemicals leeched from the plastics may magnify and move up the food chain to reach back to humans. Besides removing marine trash, learn about the diversity of marine life just at our own shores! These shores are often overlooked but are teeming with life!

Learn their identities when you head down to Pasir Ris on June 9th!


For those interested in tackling Pasir Ris Site 6, do note the following:

Date: 9 Jun 2012
Meeting Time: 8.30am (The session will end around 11.30am.)
Meeting place:  Pasir Ris Park BBQ Pit No. 64

Volunteers for Pasir Ris Site 6, please sign-up at!

Note:  It takes around 10 minutes to walk from the nearest carpark (Carpark E) / bus stop to the site. For more details, you can refer to this page.

You will meet our friendly Northeast Zone Captains: Ng Kai Scene, Lim Chen Kee & Yang Yiyong.

View our post on Earth Day clean up for a glimpse into what you may be involved in!
If you wish to share your photos with the community and want them in our ICCS Flickr repository, you can zip and wetransfer to Please send the files with the following details (name of photographer, date, location).

The Earth Day Coastal Clean-up 2012: 106 clear 400kg but not in thunder, lightning or in rain!

On the 28th of April 2012, 106 volunteers headed down to Tanah Merah site 7 for the Earth Day coastal clean-up!

Pre-session group photo! | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Attendees include volunteer bodies from corporate groups, such as Gammon Construction Limited, SGCares, Standard Chartered, Starbucks, students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and independent sign-ups from the general public!

We’re really grateful for the relatively huge turnout! T’was really heartening.

Heading towards the halfway mark before dispatching to either ends of the beach | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Yiyong takes the session very, very seriously. | Photo credit: Xu Weiting

Yiyong reminds all volunteers to rehydrate during the session!

Volunteers manoeuvring through the vegetation along the higher strandline | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

Splitting up to look for trash | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Working together to remove bulky items | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Family bonding session! | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Determined to get some work done even as the rain clouds approached! | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

The weather wasn’t cooperating, unfortunately. Shortly after we’ve briefed the masses, dark clouds gathered, and the overcast sky loomed in the distance.

The impending rain wasn’t a concern for most; After all, we were dealing with groups of highly-motivated individuals. However, we do place our participants’ safety as the utmost priority.

Zone captain, Benjamin Tan, calling out to volunteers to head towards TMFT, in view of inclement weather

According to National Environment Agency (NEA),

Singapore has one of the highest rate of lightning activity in the world. Lying near the Equator, the weather is hot and humid almost all year round. Conditions are favourable for the development of lightning producing thunderstorm clouds. via

In fact, April and May are a few of the most lightning-prone months because of the intense inter-monsoon weather conditions.

Still unconvinced? Read: Lighting: the scariest encounter on the shore by Ria Tan (Founder of WildSingapore)

Minutes before it rained | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

The sky clears just as we called off the activity. | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze

Zone captain, Benjamin, debriefs the masses | Photo credit: Jocelyne Sze


To cater to interested groups of people who would like to be a part of this coastal clean-up initiative, but are unable to attend the annual ICCS in the month of September.

To raise the consumer awareness on the impact of litter in the marine environment, and clear marine litter (mostly recreational trash – e.g. plastic bottles/bags/wrappings/straws, styrofoam chunks etc.) which will otherwise remain circulating in the ecosystem, implicating wildlife (and eventually our lives).

To witness our rich inter-tidal biodiversity and marvel at their resilience (for surviving, if not thriving, despite the 2010 oil spill and ongoing development).

The substrate supports life, some invisible to the naked eye.

Mechanised beach cleaning equipment, such as the surf raker, disturbs the strandline habitat and eliminates vegetation. An obvious advantage manual beach cleaning has over mechanised beach cleaning, is the ability to differentiate natural and artificial items. Mechanise beach cleaning may also result in compacted beaches that are difficult or impossible to use for nesting, by creatures such as sea turtles.

A bazillion (Batillaria zonalis)

These guys are in abundance! They feed on microscopic algae and detritus. As such, their role in the environment is tremendous, as they act as ‘recyclers’ in the ecosystem, by feeding on decomposing matter.

Common sea stars (Archaster typicus)

Common sea stars used to occur in great numbers, but is now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the Red List of threatened animals in Singapore due to habitat loss, upon reclamation of land, and over-collection by beach-combers.

Corals are animals. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution.

Sharp-eyed Weiting spotted the Spotted Moon Crab (Ashtoret lunaris) in a sharp | Photo credit: Xu Weiting

Spotted Moon Crabs are relatively common on sandy shores, especially near seagrasses. Owing to their superb camouflage and shy nature, we tend to miss them when we visit the shores during the day. See this spectacular photo taken by Ria Tan, depicting what could possibly be two spotted moon crabs mating!

*Posed* Bigfin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

Sea-land domination! This squid carcass was originally found in the waters, with two swimming crabs (each pinching on a tentacle, feeding probably). The ‘crabby’ party was spotted by Ivan Kwan. Upon closer inspection, we realised that some of the chromatophores were still active, implying that its death was rather recent!

A nerite snail

These eye-catching shells of nerites are more commonly found on rocky shores and mangroves. Similar in the appearance, you’d think that they’re all the same species of snail inhabiting varied outer shells. However, there are quite a few species of nerite snails found in Singapore, and you can actually distinguish some of them apart from the grooves on the underside of their shell. Learn to tell them apart, here!

Acorn worm cast

These casts comprise of processed sand, and are very commonly observed on shores. Acorn worms, themselves however, are rarely seen on land. As they are very vulnerable creatures, please avoid digging them up or attempt to handle any, if you’re lucky to see one emerging from the ground.

Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata)

Singapore‘s waters is home to 12 out of the 23 species of seagrasses found in the Indo-Pacific region. Seagrasses play a vital role in our ecosystem. Lush seagrass meadows provide food and shelter, serving as nurseries for many marine creatures in their juvenile stages.  Their establishment traps sediment in the water and confer a stabilising effect, alongside mangroves and corals. More about seagrasses here

SGCares hits the beach after the rain!

Many thanks to Andy Dinesh for helping us obtain the key to the sidegate, as well as liaising with NEA to coordinate trash collection at pre-designated trash pick-up points!

Loose ropes are potential threats to marine wildlife | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Removing sponge sheets with such glee! | Photo credits: Benjamin Tan

Kudos to them!

Here are some stats. to round off the Earth Day effort!

  • Time worked: ~15mins (106 people) + ~75mins (19 people)
  • Total weight cleared: ~240kg + ~160kg  = ~400kg (exclu. bulky items)

Plastics dominated the trash gathered. They came in several forms, such as straws, packaging, bottles. Other trash constituents include styrofoam pieces, glass shards, a few syringes, ropes, fishing lines. It was also noted that a large fraction of the trash collected were tainted with oil.

Discarded insulin syringe

FIshing lines

Xu Weiting, ICCS Deputy Coordinator (previously Tanah Merah Zone Captain) | Photo credit: Benjamin Tan

Thank you all, for joining us in this Earth Day event. The session may have ended, but the effort doesn’t!

Share the experience with your friends and colleagues.

We’ll be holding the next clean-up in conjunction with World Oceans Day!

Do keep your Saturday (Jun 9) morning free!

Stalk this blog for updates!

Impressions from the community

Check out the rest of the photos on Flickr!

If you wish to share your photos with the community and want them in our Flickr repository, do refer to our FAQ for photo submission instructions

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