Our smooth-coated otters spark an excitement about our marine lfie!

In our series of talks about marine life and marine litter, we introduce some prominent species along our coasts, both vertebrate and invertebrate. This is so Singaporeans appreciate a value of coastal cleanups – make habitats more favourable for our marine life.

The iconic marine animal which sparks excitement in the crowd are smooth-coated otters. Both adults and children gasp at the photos and videos which many dedicated photographers have provided. Children are dramatic, though, they widen their eyes and scream in excitement!

Let’s hope that everyone can do their part in keeping Singapore a clean and green place for the otters and other marine animals to live in!

28425606131_767ae4d961_z.jpg

Students from the Dulwich College watch a video by NParks “Kaya the Otter finds a new home”.

28503529585_b1e7df3bc0_z-2

Primary 5 students from CHIJ Kellock watch a video on the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio 5 otter family!

To see more photos and videos of Singapore otters, see OtterWatch.

“Operation WE Cleanup” – 39 volunteers remove 403.5kg of trash from Lim Chu Kang mangrove [08 May 2016]

NewImage

Sun 08 May 2016 – 39 volunteers joined us early the morning for the “Operation WE Cleanup” at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. This movement is led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) to encourage Singaporeans to play a role in keeping our environment clean and we were glad that ICCS could support it!

Collectively, we removed a total of 403.5kg of trash (in 56 bags) over a 90 minute cleanup, leaving the beach looking so much healthier! There were lots of plastic bottles, straws, bags and styrofoam pieces of a variety of sizes. Where do you think they came from?

An exposed used syringe was carefully disposed – it is important that sharp objects be disposed properly and responsibly, to protect everyone who will handle the trash all the way to the incinerator. This is something we reinforce in every safety briefing prior to the cleanup – see Safety Advice for Participants on our website, which dates back to the 90’s!

LCK3-compressed.png

Medium trash load at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. I’ve found so many plastic straws within a small area!

LCK4-compressed.png

North-West Zone Captain, Adriane Lee.

During the cleanup, Adriane Lee chanced upon two mangrove pit vipers. Although venomous, like every other animal, they will not attack unless provoked. We kept our distance but encouraged everyone to enjoy the lovely view of the snakes on the tree. It certainly is important to be aware of our surroundings during a mangrove cleanup and watch where you place your hands and legs –points we cover in the safety briefing !

IMG_7266.JPG

The success of this and every other cleanup was due of course to our lovely team of volunteers who worked hard and were so responsive to coordination. It is a real joy to work with them and we are encouraged to organise more of these cleanups together!

LCK1_compressed.png

Happy volunteers in action – Part 1

LCK2_compressed.png

Happy volunteers in action – Part 2

Otterman shows how we work steadily on a patch of mangrove:
leave organics (including sand and mud) behind, and separate out glass”

Otterman sets up weighing stations with our lovely, obliging volunteers

During our Year Round Coastal Cleanups, we end with a debrief of the trash collected, type of trash and share information about the site, from its historical use to the present day and its conservation status. Our ICCS coordinator Otterman (N. Sivasothi), also identified ways in participants can reduce trash at home or at the workplace.

Sharing our experience with others is also important, he explained, as many would not believe the amount of trash that does settle on our shores in Singapore. We can all help by making small changes in our daily lives. No matter how small the effort might seem, collectively this can be significant!

Happy Singapore World Water Day everyone!

View 100+ photos on Flickr.

LCK5.png

Otterman giving a debrief at the end of the session.

ICCS volunteers spread awareness about marine trash at the Asia Dive Expo 2016!

16 & 17 April 2016 – ICCS volunteers had a busy weekend at the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), the biggest dive expo in Asia, where we were invited to be part of the Singapore Pavilion.

“Organised by the Blue-Green Alliance and National Parks Board, the inaugural Singapore Pavilion celebrates the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, Singapore’s first marine park, and showcases key milestones in Singapore.” [UW360]

NewImage

We were certainly glad to see friends from NParks, the Nature Society (Singapore) and Team Seagrass at the Singapore Pavilion.

Armed with newly-designed posters and photos, volunteers Liwah and Delicia arrived bright and early on Saturday morning, ready for action!

ICCS @ Asia Dive Expo, 16-17 April 2016! 2016-04-17   12.jpg

The setup team on Saturday morning – Wong Liwah and Delicia Cheong!

The information at the ICCS booth was news to many members of the public. They were surprised at the amount of trash on our non-recreational beaches such as Tanah Merah 7. And that inspired some to take action immediately, by joining us at the upcoming “Operation WE Clean Up” on Sun 08 May 2016 at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. How heartening!

At the expo, we met other like-minded individuals. David McCann is an environmental officer at Scuba Junkie, a dive resort in Sabah. It was inspiring to hear how they encourage their guests to participate in their regular beach cleanups and how they offer talks on marine trash, shark and reef conservation. Lovely work!

84990.jpg

Joleen Chan chatting with David McCann, of Scuba-Junkie.

Most of the ICCS Educators were new and we are delighted we have an Education Team! The training session the week before prepared them for their engagement with the public. It was rewarding for them to be able to share stories about marine life and the impact of trash in Singapore to a public who were surprised at extent of pollution right here in Singapore.

combined.png

ICCS volunteers in action.

Well done Delicia Cheong, Fathanah Binti Muhammad Saleh, Joleen Chan, Wong Liwah, Sean Goh and Nur Shaalihah!

Joys Tan
ICCS-IKEA Intern

Singapore World Water Day – 29 volunteers remove 415.5kg of trash (43 trash bags) @ Sungei Pandan Mangrove [26 March 2016]

29 volunteers celebrated World Water Day Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan on 26 March 2016 – beaming with enthusiasm and with quiet intent that early Saturday morning, they certainly raised our spirits!

They had hopped onto a bus from from Kent Ridge and Dover MRT stations to our gathering point at the Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop. Against the noisy traffic, and with the help of a handy gigaphone, ICCS Coordinator Sivasothi aka Otterman introduced the site and its ecosystem before the ICCS -IKEA Intern Joys Tan (that’s me!) embarked on my first safety briefing!

World Water Day Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan, 2016-03-28 at 13.12.08 5.jpg

After many years of cleanups, the trash load at Sungei Pandan is now low and dominated by plastic sheets, cups, bottles, wrappers, straws, styrofoam (eps) and canvas bags. Many were embedded in the grass patch and mangrove floor, which requires a great effort for removal. Our volunteers were not dismayed but worked away, intent on improving the conditions in this rare mangrove spot in the south of Singapore – just look at the bright smiles on their faces!

Trash.png

Volunteers.png

The ninety minute cleanup was an intense effort! So some of us took break after an hour to catch our breath and rest some weary muscles. Eventually it was time and we transferred and weighed the trash bags and set them aside at the agreed location for the NEA DPC contractors who ensure the trash gets disposed.

We debriefed the team by the roadside and reported a removal of 415.5kg of trash in 43 trash bags from the mangrove after an effort of 90 minutes! We discussed the type of trash we saw, remarked on the need to share the experience to encourage everyone to reduce trash at the source in our daily lives.

Otterman concluded with the biodiversity and heritage value of these precious remnant mangroves at Sungei Pandan and of the positive impact of the cleanups had made over the years. And we thanked the lovely volunteers for making a difference to Singapore!

Photos from the cleanup are available on Flickr and Facebook.

That was really some awesome work, volunteers! Thank you for protecting the environment!

World Water Day Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan, 2016-03-28 at 13.12.08 13.jpg

World Water Day Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan, 2016-03-28 at 13.12.08 9.jpg

Over the Horizon – Wang Ruobing’s art installation of plastic waste from shores of Singapore! (Until 3rd Apr 2016)

over-the-horizon-gallery03

Over the Horizon is an installation work by the artist Wang Ruobing using plastic marine debris collected from Singapore shores at at Changi, Pasir Ris Parks, Kranji, Sungei Pandan, Seletar North Link, Lim Chu Kang and Pulau Ubin.

Her artwork can be viewed from 4th February to 3rd April 2016 at the Esplanade concourse. Wach the video here:

About the installation:

“The most commonly used everyday material since the beginning of the 20th century, plastic is non-biodegradable and often ends up floating in the oceans for years before breaking down into environmentally-damaging microplastic.

Over the Horizon is a site-specific installation dealing with plastic pollution. Made from plastic waste collected from Singapore’s coastlines, creating an elevated viewing platform on which audiences can observe kinetic plastic-waste waves, it explores this global issue, highlighting the interdependency of individual activities.

Artist/ curator/ researcher Wang Ruobing’s practice often explores how nature/environment is a source of disjuncture and a reflector mirroring people’s social, political and cultural struggles.”

In June last year, we received Ruobing’s request and arranged for her to participate in the Youth Day cleanup at Sungei Pandan mangrove in July. Some of the trash collected from this cleanup and other cleanups by passionate environmental groups in Singapore such as Sea Shepherds and the Nature Society (Singapore), were brought back by the artist, and given a second life in educating the public!

Awesome work, Ruobing!

NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools & Independents remove a ton of trash at Lim Chu Kang mangrove in two hours, hooray! [27 Feb 2016]

78 volunteers gathered at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road at 8.00am on a Saturday morning on 27th February 2016.

Led by environment club NTU Earthlink, the 47 students were joined by 11 staff of Singapore Pools and 20 independents (members of public and ICCS). NTU Earthlink’s Nature Guiding Director Wong Zhi Sian carefully went through the operation procedure and safety briefing, and identified the first aider for the day. Gloves and trash bags were handed and volunteers were ready for action!

25134513110_bf2287d4c1_k.jpg

25335766181_d95d34cfc5_k.jpg

I have been to Lim Chu Kang mangrove several times of cleanups but am still appalled by the sight of the trash which is recruited there! As the landward side is a nature area with no recreation activity, it is the trash load from the Straits of Johor which is brought in by incoming currents. Bulky items such as chairs, barrels, canoes and fishing nets, often pepper the mangrove, possibly abandoned by the fishermen operating both near shore and offshore.

Trash.png

Trash at the Lim Chu Kang Mangrove.

Most of the team worked the sandy beach which was heavily polluted with macro-trash – especially numerous were straws, plastic bottles and styrofoam pieces. Two fishing nets (about 3m in length) were also removed.  With the help of the North-West Zone Captain Adriane Lee, seven other volunteers successfully untangled, removed and transported one of the fishing nets out of the mangrove. This took approximately half an hour, phew!

25403984846_50a0e2fc81_k.jpg

Volunteers.png

Look at our happy volunteers!

24803451923_990a115a55_k.jpg

The curse of plastic straws! Say no to single use disposable straws, please.

25337210671_b31ad59d95_k.jpg

Eight volunteers transporting a massive trash.

25135307840_a2e824bce1_k.jpg

Volunteers and North-West Zone Captain, Adriane Lee, removing a fishing net.

25337964381_3a8955c08f_k.jpg

After an excellent two hours of cleanup (60 minutes for a year-round cleanup is typical), volunteers formed a human chain to move the trash bags to Weighing Point and then to the Trash Disposal Point. After some quick calculations, Zhi Sian cheerfully announced that we removed a total of 982.5kg of trash from the mangrove.

What a great contribution, volunteers!

25431073455_a67751daa7_k.jpg

Transporting trash via a human chain made our work easier.

25135363170_c3b492b045_k.jpg

Weighing trash bags.

25403269906_56a1a94e66_k.jpg

Well done, volunteers!

Thank you for an excellent contribution to protecting the environment, NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools and Independents!

Photo album on Flickr.

NUS’ Ridge View Residential College Chinese New Year coastal cleanup @ TM7 – 204kg of trash removed by 38 students and staff [22 Feb 2016]

On the blazing hot afternoon of 22 February 2016, 38 students and staffs from the NUS Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) conducted a coastal cleanup at Tanah Merah Site 7, a non-recreational beach located adjacent to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. They removed 29 trash bags of marine trash weighing 204kg.

This cleanup is a feature of the college’s GEM1917 module “Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability”, but more importantly, it is a part of raising awareness of the marine debris problem and its harmful impacts on the environment.

12747239_1687930174820572_212378150653825452_o.jpg

An astounding number of expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) pieces, plastic bottles, plastic pieces, glass bottles, cigarette lighters, slippers and toys were found at the beach.

TM7 trash.png

RVRC picking up trash.png

Several bulky items such as a rope and a television were also seen on the beach, some of which were embedded deeply in the sand. These trash require strategic removal with much effort and patience. It was a test of the participants’ teamwork spirit and I’m glad they made it!

12747988_1687929171487339_1691747373884530514_o.jpg

12771782_1687929028154020_3023528895398401106_o.jpg

With a low tide of 0.9m at 4.00pm, participants were able to explore the intertidal shore and remove trash deposited by the tide. Marine life such as the carpet anemone was encountered by some. What a great reminder to us that the shore is teeming with life and that cleanups are crucial to keep the shore a habitable one for them.

12771629_1687928401487416_6020023513808343454_o

12783785_1687928694820720_1826493552779551718_o.jpg

Keeping track of time, the participants began to weigh and transport the trash bags out after 90 minutes of cleanup. A total of 204kg in 29 trash bags were removed from the beach!

12496336_1687929961487260_8529372158605275889_o.jpg

12783716_1687929694820620_3108402412521565162_o.jpg

12771486_1687930024820587_2152188152736056497_o.jpg

At the end of the day, all of the participants left with a smiley face. Well done, RVRC! Thank you for protecting the marine environment and please continue to do so!

More photos and a video of the cleanup are available for viewing.

12697274_1687930321487224_8819341167008774632_o.jpg

Celebrate World Water Day with a mangrove cleanup @ Sungei Pandan, Sat 26 March 2016: 7.30am

In celebration of World Water Day, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) will be conducting a cleanup at Sungei Pandan mangrove on Sat 26 March 2016: 7.30am–10.30am.

unnamed
World Water Day Cleanup 26Mar2016

 

What is World Water Day? World Water Day is a day designated by the United Nations to highlight the importance of water and to advocate sustainable management of water resources. It is celebrated on 22 March annually.

Why cleanup? Humanity needs water and wetland habitats are an integral part of the water cycle on this planet. Wetlands habitats are especially precious in Singapore and trash causes adverse impacts to wildlife, releases harmful chemicals and are an unsightly presence we should not tolerate! Coastal cleanups are conducted by volunteers around the world to remove this trash, raise awareness of the plight of our oceans and waterways and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living towards sustainable practises.

In Singapore: Water conservation efforts by PUB have seen Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption dropped from 165 litres per day in 2003 to 150 litres. The agency is targeting a goal of 147 litres by 2020 and 140 litres by 2030.

Sungei Pandan Mangrove: Sungei Pandan is a small but precious mangrove located in south-western Singapore at the mouth of the Sungei Pandan, and draining into the sea at West Coast. In order to protect this site, the annual ICCS was extended to Sungei Pandan mangrove in 2008 and the bulk of the historical trash load has been removed. However, it is still burdened by an annual recruitment of marine trash and year-round coastal cleanups like the World Water Day cleanup help to make the ecosystem a more hospitable one for marine life – including the very special smooth-coated otter!

screen-shot-2015-03-16-at-am-10-37-12

Itinerary

  • 07:00 – Bus pick up at (1) Kent Ridge MRT [Bus stop ID: 18071, NUH] and (2) Dover MRT [Bus stop ID: 19031, Dover Stn]
  • 07:30 – Arrive at Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop and unload all logistics from the buses. Participants collect logistics – a pair of gloves and trash bags.
  • 07:45 – Safety Briefing for participants and the wet weather plans (carry on unless lighting threat). Identify the Trash Disposal Point (TDP; forward margin of Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop).
  • 08:00 – Cleanup begins.
  • 08:45 – Check on hydration levels; is everyone feeling okay?
  • 09:30 – Cleanup ends. Transport bags to the TDP.
  • 09:45 – Debrief including summary of trash collected.
  • 10:00 – Participants to clean up with water they bring to wipe themselves down.
  • 10:10 – Bus transports participants back to Dover and Kent Ridge MRTs.
Meeting_Points


Meeting Points at Dover and Kent Ridge Stations for shuttle bus pick-up and drop-off.

Location of Jalan buroh B25 Bus stop


Location of Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop, indicated by the red triangle.

Things to note

  1. Transport to Pandan Mangroves, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales will be provided.
  2. For those intending to drive, do note that there are not public parking facilities nearby.
  3. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  4. A change of t-shirt is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  5. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites and mud, but bermudas are fine.
  6. Water-proof your belongings.

Things to bring

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

Preparing for the cleanup

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a good 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 SP2 for more information on the cleanup site.

Find out more about Singapore World Water Day 2016 here.
Thank you for caring for our planet this World Water Day!

The trash on the Pulau Serangoon (Coney Island) shore – revisited after nearly five years!

Pulau Serangoon or Coney Island as it is better known by these days, is located off the northeastern coast of Singapore and is host to several beaches and a mangrove. Like any shoreline in Singapore, it suffers from a marine trash load.

After it was connected to the mainland by reclamation, Sivasothi aka Otterman examined the area as a potential cleanup site in June 2011.  He was unable to open the site then due to safety issues and has been wondering when ICCS could begin operations there.

Now, things are finally happening! The island has been developed as a park and managed by NParks. there are safe access routes to the beaches and trash on the inter-tidal shore is cleared by NEA on a daily basis.

However, NParks which manages the high shore reports an ever present trash load. And they urged us to get things started! So on 18 Feb 2016, I visited Coney Island for a site recce with NParks’ park manager Alex Tam.

Coney Island can now be accessed via the Coney Island West Entrance by taking bus 84 from Punggol MRT. It took me just a five minutes walk from the bus stop to the West Gate.

Coney Island Location

bus stop

This was my first visit to Coney Island and I was warmly welcomed by the calls of orioles and magpie robins. What a beautiful place! Yet, the five beaches (A to E) and mangrove on the island revealed a different sight.

Beach E (400m) – The beach is easy to locate and access, and the entry point is suitable for an assembly area and trash disposal point. Although Coney Island beaches are regularly cleared by NEA contractors, a medium load of trash accumulates on the strand line and in the inland vegetation. The trash load is characterised by styrofoam pieces, plastics and some bulky items. Volunteers will have to avoid picking up twigs and wooden pieces as they clear trash.

hQrUDIKPPTY4zv2essZuIxML.jpg

Coney1.png

Beach D (300m) – The trash load is medium to high, with more bulky items observed, such as fishing nets, tyre and barrels.

Coney2

The inland vegetation is peppered with plastic bottles and some glass bottles. Volunteers will have to be careful with glass pieces even if wearing gloves. Despite a cleanup by 50 students a fortnight ago (photo on the left below), a horrendous amount of trash remains!

Coney3

Beach C (100m)– This is a very a short stretch of beach, and the end is clearly demarcated by the stream, which is cleaned twice a week.

20160218_152204.jpg

Beach A to B – This is something that Beach A and B might look like. More details after the next recce trip!

G3b3eQEtiBpG3eAKkNEyklGp

Mangrove – This is a small patch of about three to five footballs fields and can be entered via a boardwalk. The trash load appears low, but more after a second recce.

eflG89ahRQ6lsPCqlcYrEkj3.jpg

nmoK6ab8ncwPA9FDlUXcWNFW

When conducting a much needed coastal cleanup at Coney Island, organisers will have to be advised about the presence of only a single toilet at the eastern end of the island. And it is advisable for volunteers to wear long-sleeved thin shirts and pants as precautions against sandflies. I didn’t get bitten, but many have been after the park was opened.

sitemgr_e16-Toilet.png

Toilet on Coney Island. Source: littledayout

It was good to be able to review the site, and we hope to invite Organsiers to tackle the burden of marine trash at this site soon!

Call for volunteers to coordinate coastal cleanups in Singapore for 2016 [deadline: 12 Feb 2016]

The volunteer coordinators of the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore are searching for motivated individuals who would like to contribute to the betterment of the marine environment.

Volunteers will conduct evaluations of beaches and mangroves prior to cleanups, learn about marine life, liase with Organisers, help plan workshops, process data, conduct outreach activities as well as leading by example during beach and mangrove cleanups!

We are looking for Zone Captains and Site Captains who are able to commit to our 2016 Calendar of events. Check the full calendar of dates. If you fit the bill and can make the dates, sign up to join the ICCS Otters and we will be in touch! The first briefing session for new applicants will be on Fri 05 Feb 2016 in NUS at 7.00pm. There will be second briefing date in mid-February.

We are a dedicated team who have been coordinating the International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore for more than a decade. We work with Organisers from more than 60 organisations and institutions who lead some 4,000 volunteers to the beach and mangroves of Singapore in September, and with Organisers of Year-Round Coastal Cleanups.

We keep meetings and emails to a minimum in order to sustain this effort alongside our regular jobs long-term. So to work with us, you need to be responsive and dedicated. If unfamiliar, you will be introduced to our use of digital tools and field-preparation.

If you think this sounds like something you could do, we would be most happy to welcome you!

Do sign up here by 12 Feb 2016!

See you on the beach!

Cheerio!
Sivasothi

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
& Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

What do ICCS Zone Captains do?

Shoreline recces
09iccs-recce_tanah-merah-7_05may2013[ezraho]

Workshop Tutorials
2013-07-03 20.39.02

Just the few meetings!
20150302 ICCS Otters Mtg 1

ICCS Lecture dialogues
50_ICCS_Lecture-03aug2013[adrianlee]

School Talks
06iccs-talk-queenstown-primary-23apr2012

Briefing volunteers
007iccs-pandan_mangrove-11sep2010[kpinto]

Coastal cleanup!
269_iccs-KranjiEast-21sep2013[awks]

Getting stuck!
103ICCSpandanmangrove-12sep2009[as]

Every piece counts
029iccs-pandan_mangrove-11sep2010[kpinto]

Weighing trash
55preNDcoastalcleanup-04aug2012

Feeling accomplished!
59iccs-pandan_mangrove-11sep2010[dling]

Washing gloves!
174_iccs-KranjiEast-21sep2013[AdrianeLee]

Data processing
192_iccs-KranjiEast-21sep2013[AdrianeLee]

Fellowship through year-round action
42_PreNatiDay_MangroveCleanup-04 aug2012[andydinesh]