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!

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

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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 !

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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!

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Happy volunteers in action – Part 1

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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.

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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]

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Look at our happy volunteers!

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

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Eight volunteers transporting a massive trash.

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

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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!

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Transporting trash via a human chain made our work easier.

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Weighing trash bags.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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