Gathering at Pasir Ris 6 for the pre-cleanup briefing. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.Sent from my iPhone
After one too many photos of strangled birds on the Bird Ecology Study Group blog, I just had to take that entangled kite down. Stuck up a young Casuarina tree on Ketam Beach 3, Pulau Ubin, we noticed the kite from the long string which extended to the shore, during the International Coastal Cleanup.
We had been working the shore for about an hour, with the industrious students of the NUS University Scholars Programme and the Delegation from the European Union. We had been doing a decent job tackling the trash on a beach strewn with thousands of pieces of styrofoam.
However for a brief moment, I was preoccupied not with the new Ketam Beach 3 shore, but rather with getting up that tree to clear away that low-hanging kite. I called rather optimistically on the light-framed Evelyn standing nearby, before the low-pitched guffaw of Kenneth Pinto caught my attention. He gamely ambled over and hoisted my almost 100kg weight far up that tree that I could reach for the lower branches.
His effort was so impressive it was funny!! His whole body shook with the effort and that nearly had me overcome with laughter – but that would have sent both of us toppling! So I held it in and was amazed to find myself up fa enough to start climbing.
I got to the kite easily with thin branches supporting my weight but found it hopelessly entangled in vines. I thought of the scissors and parang in my full pack and shrugged my shoulders and started chewing through two rather thick strands of some creeper that didn’t taste half-bad.
Finally in jubilation, I was able to call out to the data recorder below “one kite!” and threw the tangled mass of kite and vegetation down. She neatly avoided being hit by it and the other students bagged it. Then I slid down and found Kenneth ensuring my descent was graceful.
An alert Evelyn, released of the herculean task of hoisting me up that tree, took the earlier photos with Kenneth’s camera which he had handed over for safe keeping. He took over to record my ascent and they weren’t too undignified to share here.
The series amused the rest of the coordinators back in NUS Lab 7 later and I was cheered by the effort myself too. For I was glad we’d avoided at least one other strangulation.
South Zone Captain Kelly Ong and Site Captain for Pandan mangrove Ou Yang Xiuling celebrating the 3rd year of a successful cleanup at Pandan mangroves. Photo by Lee Bee Yan.
Data from the cleanup
- Overall for Pandan – link
- Black & Veatch (SEA) Pte Ltd – link
- NUS Raffles Museum Toddycats & Biodiversity Crew – link
- Oil Spill Response – link
- Wildlife Reserves Singapore – link
Blog posts from the cleanup
- “Tackling the ‘Trash Monsters’ of Pandan Mangrove,” by Ou Yang Xiuling. News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, 11 Sep 2010 – link
- “The “Phua Chu Kang” effect [People of the ICCS],” by N. Sivasothi. News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, 12 Sep 2010 – link
Photos from the cleanup:
Ria Tan of WildSingapore has updated these Wild Facts Sheets on the Dugong, Sea Turtles and Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin! These are resource pages about sightings of these marine animals in Singapore and their status, brief notes about the biology and the issues they face.
Organisers and presenters of the International Coastal Cleanup who run an education programme with participants in the months ahead of a cleanup will find this really useful to accompany the powerpoint that deals with the popular question, "Is there marine life in Singapore?"
Marine rubbish on the rise: reportNicky Phillips ABC 21 Oct 09;
The damage caused by marine rubbish and debris is costing the
Asia-Pacific region more than a billion dollars each year, a new
report has found. The report, commissioned by the Marine Resource
Conservation working group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC), found debris is increasing in the region's oceans, despite
measures to control it.
Science Centre in Coffs Harbour says 6.4 million tonnes of debris
reaches the world's oceans each year. Of that 80% is thought to come
from land based sources, he says. More than half of the rubbish is
believed to be plastic, but McIlgrom says rubber, wood and sanitary
products also add to the problem. "Poor landfill practices are big contributors to marine debris,
especially in Asia," says McIlgrom. The report also tallied the
economic costs of damage caused to the fishing and boat industries by
marine rubbish in the Asia-Pacific region. "Whether they have to
untangle plastic from a ship propellers or totally replace an outboard
– it's costing industries a lot," he says. The report used a Japanese economic model, which estimates the damage
caused by marine debris costs governments close to 0.3% of their GDP
Conservative estimate "That came to a total of US$1.265 billion across the 21 APEC
economies," says McIlgrom. In Australia, clean up of marine rubbish is
costing close to AU$6 million (US$6.5 million) each year. But these
figures are very conservative he says, and don't encompass the total
impact of marine rubbish. "There are lots of other costs, costs to
wildlife, loss of tourism and lost capital development opportunities,
like building a hotel or resort." And the report doesn't include the clean-up bill, says McIlgrom. "If
you added the clean-up bill of all of APEC it would be a lot more." He
says what's really worrying is that the amount of marine debris in
oceans is growing with the world's population. "If you took the levels
[of rubbish] in 1980 it was much less than it is today, basically
we've got lazy with our use of plastics." McIlgrom insists marine debris is an avoidable cost. Prevention better than cure The report recommends that governments focus more on preventing
rubbish entering our waterways, instead of trying to control it once
it gets there. "For every 100 units of rubbish that enter the ocean,
15 % float on the surface, 15% collect in the water column near the
shore and the rest sinks to the bottom of the deep ocean," says
McIlgrom. With most rubbish originating from land based sources, he says it
makes more economic sense for governments to introduce preventative
measures. "Once debris enters the water and becomes diluted, it
becomes much more expensive per unit of rubbish to pick up." McIlgrom
says governments should implement proper landfill practices, which
would go a long way to reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up in
our water ways. He says recycling, especially of plastic "really needs attention and
thought". McIlgrom says, good strategy is to reimburse people who
recycle plastic bottles, like in South Australia. The report also recommends building nets at the end of estuaries,
where rivers or streams meet the ocean, to catch any debris before it
makes its way into open water.
Penang-girl Alison Wee was accompanied up north by Andy Dinesh, Marcus Tay and Ng Kai Scene for ICC Penang.
CEMACS organised a great cleanup, with everyone working hard, reporting their data the same day, using recyclables and non-disposables for the lunch and blogging the same day. This morning, Malaysian newspapers reported the event and it looks to be the start of something really good!
See the ICC Penang blogsite for reports, data and photos at: http://iccpenang.wordpress.com/
Volunteers from ST Dynamics at East Coast Park Beach Site 1 encountered a fishing net buried in the sand and didn’t leave it there – they huffed and puffed and extracted the net, removed the entangled coral and disposed of it! Well done folks!
Complete album on Flickr – link.
Let’s Pick Up Rubbish!On 19 September 2009, 7 teachers and 10 pupils from Northland Primary School did their part for the environment by collecting, categorising and disposing litter at Changi Beach.
The amount of rubbish found on the beach and floating in the sea was astounding! We picked up items like styrofoam pieces, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and even a plug and a slipper.
Picking up all this trash at the beach was pretty tedious but we left with smiles on our faces, hoping we had done our part to make it a cleaner place. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us.
By Ho Kexin
The sky looked rather gloomy when we left our homes for Tanah Merah this morning. Nevertheless, the SUVEC off-roaders were determined to complete their mission – Operation TM Cleanup – this is the third year running SUVEC has contributed to the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Driving our mean machines (four wheel drives) through the Changi Coastal Road in the wee hours of the morning, we were praying that the heavens would not open up too soon. A cozy group of 12 (10 adults and 2 children) converged at the NSRCC Sea Sports Centre carpark at 0830 hrs. Some had no breakfast, others were fasting and everybody was in a chirpy mood.
After the briefing formalities (objectives, data collection and safety briefing), we headed towards the beach affectionately coded as Tanah Merah 3, Tanah Merah 4 and Tanah Merah 5 (about 500 m worth of coastline) respectively.
Despite the relatively small number of volunteers, we worked in pairs – one picking up the litter while the other recording the data. The role was reversed after half an hour. The debris collected was predominantly from shoreline and recreational activities. Styrofoam pieces and cigarette butts were in abundance. One of the pairs managed to find a horseshoe crab entangled in a fishing line. Alas, upon closer examination, we realized that the crab could not be saved!
Some of the more peculiar items found include a cone which was brought in by the tide, a big blue jerrycan (possibly from ocean/waterway activities) as well as a huge can of milk powder.
The initial plan was to transport all the debris collected to nearby Changi Village using our 4WDs. However, we met up with one of the coordinators, (ICCS Otters) Vu Tinh Ky who saved us all the trouble by telling us to leave the items collected at the rubbish point along the beach as prior arrangements had been made with NParks for the items to be disposed later.
Then, it started to pour! The heavens opened up at around 10.20 hrs leaving us rather drenched. When there was no sign that the rain would stop and in the interest of safety, we called it a day. So we drove up to Kallang MacDonald's for a debrief, fill up the empty stomach as well as to collate the data. Despite several attempts to upload the data submission spreadsheet via Wireless@SG, it never went through. Since the data is to be submitted urgently, arrangements were made for to have it delievered at a separate location [Thanks, SUVEC! – ed.].
Overall, we had fun although we wish we could do a longer cleanup. Cannot wait for the next cleanup event!
Iwan Kurniawan Ahmad
On 12 Sept 2009, 19 senior officers from the Singapore Police Force went from protecting the nation to protecting the environment as they traded their revolvers for trash bags and got down to clearing the Pandan Mangrove, all in the name of environmentalism.
Coordinated by the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the Pandan Mangrove Cleanup attracted participants from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Raffles Museum Toddycats, the Department of the Biological Sciences (NUS) and independent volunteers as well. The cleanup was part of an international effort to cleanup and to collate information regarding marine litter.
Our men in blue started their operation at 8.30am and got right into the thick of action. It was a first experience for many of the officers, but there was no hesitation as they trudged deep into the mangroves and deftly navigated the uneven terrain interjected by muddy mounts, exposed roots and an assortment of marine litter.
Working in groups of 3, the officers scoured the mangrove for all manner of refuse and promptly bagged any debris found. There were various non-biodegradable waste strewed all over the mangrove floor, with the most prevalent being plastic bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam pieces and other industrial building materials like plastic sheets, pipes and rubber tires. In fact, the number of plastic bags collected amounted to almost 50% of all debris collected for that morning.
While deep in the mangrove, one officer even had a surprise encounter with a small water snake that was entangled in the tire he was attempting to clear. Without delay, our officers cautiously freed the snake which promptly slithered away deep into the mangrove.
By the end of the cleanup, the team from the Singapore Police Force had filled a total of 43 trash bags with debris from the mangrove weighing a hefty 233 kg. The team had collected a total of 2,620 items from just a 50 meter stretch. Collectively, participants from the cleanup amassed a total of 3,759 items weighing in at a total of 1,745 kg – see data.
In all it was an extremely enriching and educational experience for our officers as they were alerted to how marine debris can endanger the lives of many marine creatures like sea turtles, crabs and albatrosses. The waste that we carelessly discard might be accumulated in such mangroves, serving to proliferate the problem and escalate the level of threat to the precious myriad of marine life that inhabits these mangroves.
By P/INSP James Chng
Police Training Command
Home Team Academy
501 Old Choa Chu Kang Rd S698928
More photos on Flickr.