The ICCS Briefing on 25 Aug 2012 – the prelude to the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2012!

Every year, a fortnight before the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) commences, an ICCS Briefing is conducted for Site Buddies, Independents and members of the public interested in marine life and the objectives of coastal cleanups.

This year, 82 volunteers and members of public left the cosy comfort of their beds to attend the briefing conducted by ICCS Coordinator, N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman who welcomed them with great enthusiasm!

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During the briefing, Siva highlighted and showcased Singapore’s marine wildlife that persist amidst our battered shores. The crowd was wowed by videos and images of baby turtles, dolphins, dugongs, crocodiles and otters. They piqued the participants’ interest and captured everyone’s attention.


After the introduction of Singapore’s marine wildlife, Siva talked about the threats that these aquatic denizens face and gave special attention to marine trash! Single-use plastics, carelessly discarded, end up in aquatic environments and dominate the shores. This affects the survival of many marine organisms which might mistake the fragments as food, eg. marine turtles mistakenly consume clear plastic and exploded balloons as jellyfish and even the albatross living far from humans, are affected.

An overview of cleanup methods prepared Organisers and Site Buddies for the cleanup and data collection processes.

Siva ended the session with suggestions about how each of us can help in a variety of ways, inspiring everyone to make a difference!


With the briefing over, volunteers stepped forward to have a chat with Siva and the ICCS Otters team. Many of them were old friends, such as Martha Began of Singapore American School and her students! New faces sought advice from their respective Zone Captains and discussed their cleanup sites. This face to face time is a welcome resource for Organisers.


It was lovely to see the energy and interaction in the room! Everyone was enthusiastic and we hoped they were glad to learn about Singapore surviving marine wildlife and will look forward to a safe, efficient and green cleanup!

Have a great ICCS 2012 everyone!

Year-Round Cleanup – Nestle R&D Singapore team-building coastal cleanup exercise spends three hours at ECP (16th July 2012)

While we gear up for the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, it is good to be reminded that year-round cleanups of our shores can and should be conducted for at any time of the year.

Groups may do this for a variety of reasons – to help relieve the marine environment of the its burden of trash, introduce colleagues to beach cleanups or even as part of a team-building exercise.

In July the year, Nestle R&D Singapore Team successfully conducted a year-round beach cleanup at East Coast Park as part of their team-building session in the afternoon of Monday, 16th July 2012.


Ignoring the rain, the team of 17 people worked hard to clear the trash off East Coast Park beach, a heavily utilised public beach for THREE hours! We really love how enthusiastic everyone looks in picking up inorganic trash found near the beach!


Check out the smiles on the volunteers’ faces! I am sure everyone had lots of fun during the activity as well!


The day’s effort amounted to 90kg of trash from a 3 – 4 km stretch of East Coast Park. The team identified some unusual items – sacks, car batteries and even a saw lying on the beach.

However, the bulk of the trash on the shore were single-use plastic items – food containers, plastic bottles and styrofoam. These items are commonly found on our shores and at beaches like these, are usually left behind by recreational users. They feature on the  top 10 list of items found on our coastline every year and is a strong reminder about the ordinary ways in which we pollute the sea.


Lovely job, Nestle R&D Singapore! It’s a good example for other groups who might be thinking about what to do. We appreciate your effort in caring of the environment and making our shores a better place for its denizens!

Special thanks to Karmela Anna Keh for keeping us updated and arranging to share photos of the cleanup with us!

“Marine Life & Trash in our Seas” Talk for first cohort of Frontier Primary School

We were approached by an enthusiastic Mr Zainal Haron from the new Frontier Primary School who wanted to expose their pioneer batch of students to environmental issues at a young age. The school had only just accepted their first batch of 240 primary one students this year and they even have their own blog!

Frontier Pri School- Brand new school which was opened in 2012 (Photo by Jocelyne Sze)

Luckily for us, Jocelyne Sze, ICCS Manpower Captain, who was in-between trips was back in Singapore and managed to conduct the 8am morning assembly talk on 6th August 2012, Monday.

Jocelyne introduced many local marine wildlife to the children and made them realize that several of the marine organisms seen in movies (eg. Nemo) and cartoons (Spongebob and Patrick) can also be found in Singapore. She also showed photos and videos of our more charismatic animals like turtles, dolphins, otters and even monitor lizards which captured their attention.

At the end of the talk, Jocelyne told the students how they can make a difference to the marine environment such as reusable bottles as their water bottles instead of disposable ones.

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We all have our reuseable bottles, what about you? (Photo taken by staff of Frontier Pri School)

Lastly, in order to encourage interaction, she brought along some of her very own aquatic soft toys to get students to participate in an animal ID quiz and if they could be found in Singapore! The students looked like they had great fun learning about Singapore’s marine biodiversity, threats and how they can help to reduce marine trash!

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The kids enjoyed the quiz (Photo taken by staff of Frontier Pri School)

Well done Jocelyne! For more details, you can read all about her impressions of her  journey to the West in her blog!

Assembly talk – 400 Nanyang Primary students learn about marine life in Singapore!

Some 400 Primary Five students at Nanyang Primary School had a different sort of assembly on the 23rd July 2012, Monday. This was during Green Week 2012 and a special time in the year where teachers could arrange for guest speakers.

I was all setup with five minutes to go and the primary five students streamed in to the assembly hall for an ICCS talk on local marine biodiversity, threats and how each person can make a difference.


Students filling up the assembly hall

Throughout the talk, there was a healthy level of response from the students. Many were fascinated by photos of marine organisms that could be found on our shores. The group was also mesmerised by the video of the baby turtles scrambling out to sea and the wrestling monitor lizards in our mangroves!

I was bombarded with questions from the floor about each of the animals that I talked about. and on cue, before I talked about the threat of ghost nets killing our precious horseshoe crabss in the mudflats, one of the students walked up to me to ask,” Why do you need a pair of scissors when you are inside the mangrove?” .

During the section about threats to marine life, I showed them Chris Jordan’s Midway Trailer Which has great impact in conveying the severity of man’s impact.


Start of the ICCS Talk

At this point, some students hid their plastic bottles -these had bottle caps similar to the ones found in the bodies of the dead young albatrosses! GReat awareness that an innocent item in the wrong place can be harmful to the planet.

During the more sober atmosphere which followed the trailer, I ended as usual with some suggestions about simple ways in which we can reduce our use of single-use plastics, and by now, the familiar 3Rs had a greater significance – and everyone can make a difference!

It is always heartening when we can go down to talk to students about Singapore’s marine biodiversity and the threats ecosystems and animals face here and elsewhere. With awareness, students can be motivated to make a difference to the planet.

World Oceans Day Cleanup 2012 – 75 clear 1.5 tonnes of trash in light rain!

To celebrate World Oceans Day 2012, ICCS conducted two beach coastal cleanups at Pasir Ris Site 6 (PR6) and Tanah Merah Site 7 (TM7) on the 9th June 2012! On this sleepy Saturday morning where the sky was overcast and with intermittent showers, 75 volunteers turned up to do their part for the marine environment!

At PR6, 50 volunteers turned up to help clear a non-recreational beach site and everyone worked hard to try to clear as much trash as they could within the 90 minutes. The NE zone captains (Kai Scene, Chen Kee & Yi Yong) recruited energetic PR6 volunteers from ACJC student council, general public who responded to the World Oceans Day cleanup post, SgCares and ICCS Otters (Kah Ming, Jocelyne, Marcus, Kelly & Weiting).

NE Zone Captain Kai Scene looking really happy at the wonderful 80% volunteer turnout rate!

After a full 90 minutes of cleanup, we had used up all of the 140 trash bags! The ICCS team then quickly organised the volunteers to form a human chain to transport the trash quickly and efficiently out to the collection point.

Participants form a human chain to transport out the numerous bags of trash.

Look at the amount of trash collected, a total of 1,100kg of trash removed!

All the trash was weighed and we removed a total of 1.1 tonnes of trash from the site! After 90 minutes of hard work, there was definitely a transformation from a trash-filled beach where food wrappers and plastic bags littered all over to a visibly cleaner PR6! Kudos to all PR 6 volunteers for your time and effort!

Over at TM7, even though the cleanup was delayed 30 minutes by the rain, 21 highly enthusiastic volunteers from SgCares, together with Ivan, Dinesh and Tanah Merah Zone Captains (Benjamin & Gladys) started at 9.30am to work the shores. Each volunteer had a trash bag in hand and off they went to remove any trash that they saw.

TM 7 volunteers help to remove sand from the interior of tire before moving to disposal point! (Photo from Benjamin Tan)

Even though, the TM7 were a smaller group of volunteers, they managed to remove 66 trash bags within 90 minutes. This amounted to an impressive 343kg of trash, excluding bulky items! Great job, TM7 volunteers!

TM7 volunteers bringing in the trash (Photo from Ivan Kwan)

Well done to all the volunteers who turned up for the two beach cleanups today! These efforts have made a difference to the marine environment. Do share your experience with your family and friends as part of the celebration for World Oceans Day. Spread the message and help protect our oceans!

See also Ivan <a href=””>Kwan’s post</a>

VJC IP students learn about local marine life, threats & how to make a difference!

Eighteen Victoria Junior College Integrated Programme (VJC IP) students who have chosen Marine Biology as their elective learnt about Singapore’s marine biodiversity, threats and how they can make a difference when I turned at the college to give a lecture.

I was raring to go to showcase our local marine biodiversity after tweaking slides from my first exciting ICCS talk experience in 2011 for the Singapore American School Middle School.

18 students & teacher (Eric Lim) listening to stories of marine biodiversity, threats & how every effort counts!

The small group this time afforded opportunities for interaction and queries – the students were intrigued by the identities of sea stars, sea urchins and fishes I displayed and constantly excited, were having quite a lot of conversations with their peers. More time was spent on every single animal or issue raised and I also inserted in two short video clips this time – the release of turtle hatchlings at East Coast Park in August 2005 and the TED talk given by Captain Charles Moore in 2009 about the threat of plastics in our oceans!

Who doesn't love the video of baby turtles returning to the ocean?

I was pleasantly surprised when 1.5 hours passed by so quickly. This talk certainly helped expose these young students to the great diversity of marine organisms we have in our own backyard, the threats faced by the marine environment and how each individual can change their own actions and use their own influence to spread awareness to their others.

Priceless expressions on students' faces during the talk

Thanks to VJC teachers, Eric Lim and June Tan for extending their invitation for us to come and share our knowledge to these small group of interested students. Special thanks goes to Benjamin Tan, our newly elected Tanah Merah Zone Captain who came by to give support and also took all the photos!

Recce for First Year Round Cleanup at Tanah Merah

In preparation for the very first year round cleanup at Tanah Merah on the 11 Feb 2012, Benjamin Tan and Ching Yu Hang, both volunteer Site Buddies from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre together with ICCS Tanah Merah Zone Captain, Xu Weiting and ICCS Recce Captain, Andy Dinesh headed out to TM7 on the 29th Jan, Sun to have a look at the trash load that we will be cleaning up in two weeks’ time.

Photo of Benjamin (right at the front), Dinesh (centre) and Yu Hang (back) surveying the shore in front of the newly built Workers' Dormitory, which has a great sea view.

We were greeted by a relatively clean shoreline this time round. However, this depends on the currents and winds which might sometimes cause the trash to be accumulated in usually large amounts. Hence, in order to be prepared, a recce trip is highly essential for any planning of a shore cleanup.

This area would usually be covered up with trash! Now you can see the nice sandy beach!

Besides looking at the trash load, we also saw inhabitants of the beach. This gave me a timely reminder of the motivation behind cleanups held more regularly rather than only during the International Coastal Cleanup in September. Every cleanup effort is important in helping to remove the marine litter that has adverse impacts on marine organisms and habitats.

A soldier crab on the sandy shores, one of the many organisms that calls Tanah Merah its home.

However, as we proceeded along the long stretch of sandy shore, the clean image of Tanah Merah starting to vanish. Instead, we started to notice more trash stranded on the upper shores and along the vegetation edge. We definitely have work to do during the upcoming cleanup.

Discarded styrofoam boxes and bucket which might have been used previously by fishermen

Another important aspect about beach cleanups is safety. We encountered a single syringe on the TM7 shore and every year, we do get about 30 – 150 syringes per cleanup. In 2011, Singapore American School (SAS) found 33 syringes at their mangrove sites and this incident once again highlighted the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for every single cleanup, no matter how big or small.

Be safe & efficient! Be aware of your surroundings and always be careful of what you are picking up!

Below is another photo of the amount of trash (plastics, styrofoams and much more) awaiting for us to clear on the 11th Feb, Saturday. If you need more details of the cleanup, Site Buddy Gladys Chua has put out a blog post for any interested people.

With the start of the brand new year, let us not sit around and hope for the trash to vanish. Let’s take some action and do something about the marine litter found on our shores.