Celebrate Earth Day (Sat 22 Apr 2017: 9.00am) with a coastal cleanup at Coney Island with Adrian, Jen & Beth! Meet them at the West Entrance, they will provide trash bag and gloves! Sign up at their registration page.
Adrian, Jen & Beth and friends have tackled marine trash on the shores of Singapore by contributing to year-round coastal cleanups both as participants and organisers for several years now.
Having tackled marine trash at Sungei Seletar, Tanah Merah and Chek Jawa in previous years, they are heading to Coney Island this Earth Day as the marine trash situation there requires attention.
Thanks to NParks for providing trash bags and gloves, and coordinating trash removal after the cleanup!
for the World Wetlands Day coastal cleanup last February
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.
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.
Beach D (300m) – The trash load is medium to high, with more bulky items observed, such as fishing nets, tyre and barrels.
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!
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.
Beach A to B – This is something that Beach A and B might look like. More details after the next recce trip!
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.
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.
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!
Weekend of 07 & 08 Mar 2015 – ICCS Zone Captains and the Intern visited 15 different cleanup sites in the Northwest and Northeast zones to conduct preliminary recces. We examined four large sites in the Northwest on Saturday and 11 sites in the Northeast on Sunday. Certainly much work is needed to help our mangrove and coastal areas cope with the load of marine trash!
Northwest Zone: Zone Captain Adriane Lee & Intern Becky Lee
- Kranji East mangrove
- Lim Chu Kang East mangrove
- Sungei Buloh West mangrove
- Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove
Northeast Zone: Zone Captains Yang Yi Yong & Ng Kai Scene & Intern Becky Lee
- Sungei Loyang
- Pasir Ris Beach 1
- Pasir Ris Beach 2
- Pasir Ris Beach 6
- Sungei Tampines
- Punggol Beach 1
- Punggol Beach 2
- Sungei Seletar 1
- Sungei Seletar 2
- Selimang Beach
- Sembawang Beach
At Kranji East Mangrove in the Northwest, we were greeted by a truck load of trash.
Discarded fishing nets are entangled amongst mangrove roots, and pulling them out, Adriane discovered a horseshoe crab trapped inside. He gently removed the animal and placed it back on the shore but it was no longer moving.
At Lim Chu Kang East mangrove, the strandline was polluted with discarded nets, plastic bottles, plastic oil containers, tarp sheets, and of course – styrofoam.
The situation at Lim Chu Kang Jetty:
The mangroves were multi-colored, peppered with food containers, detergent bottles, beer cans, plastic bottles and styrofoam.
On Sunday, we began with Sungei Loyang at a very low tide which exposed the accumulated trash at that mangrove.
Pasir Ris Beaches 1 and 2 are recreational beaches cleaned daily by professional cleaners. There tiny fragments of plastic and styrofoam littered the strandline.
Our Northeast Zone Captains; Chen Kee, Yi Yong and Kai Scene!
Plastics and styrofoam bits on our beaches are a common site. You can see this even on Pasir Ris Beach 2, a recreational beach cleaned daily by cleaners.
Sungei Seletar presented an amazing scene – barely any land was left to be seen from under the trash cover.
We wrapped up the recces for the weekend, with adamant spirits and determination boiling within us. The battle with marine trash will never end, but we hope as ICCS participants hit the shores and witness this pollution in Clean and Green Singapore, the reflection of our lifestyles and day-to-day habits will trigger action and encourage more environmentally-friendly practices. Together we can and MUST make an impact to protect our oceans.
This past Saturday morning (07 Feb 2015) marked the first recce of the year for the North East Zone. Organisers from Bukit Batok Secondary School comprising of teachers Syam Lal Sadanandan and Surjeet Singh with student Azri, met with Zone Captain Yi Yong at Pasir Ris Beach 6 in preparation for their cleanup in March.
Organisers from Bukit Batok Secondary School got in touch with ICCS coordinators late last year with the intention to carry out a cleanup in March. This was a good opportunity to address the high trash load at Pasir Ris Beach 6 which, despite the concerted effort of various groups at the International Coastal Cleanup in Sep 2014, still presented a significant challenge of marine trash.
After four and half months, the small stream at the entrance of the site had disappeared! This could be due to the low rain fall of the past month. Well, organisers need no longer worry about accessing and exiting the site at higher tide levels so there will be greater flexibility with the cleanup schedule.
Typically, the trash load at Pasir Ris 6 was as high as ever, with the largest trash accumulated along the strandline and in the vegetation. This will prove challenging as the students will face restrictions in their movements and risk of insect bites, so they will have to be careful here. The trash was comprised of the usual suspects – plastic bags, wrappers and bottles, with a few barrels in the mix. A big plastic tub had the organisers’ eyes twinkling as they conspired of ways of utilising it in their school’s beautification project!
The cleanup, scheduled for the 14 Mar 2015, will be an interesting and educational experience for the students of Bukit Batok Secondary School. They have their work cut out for them, so let’s wish them all the best as they do their part in tackling the scourge of marine trash!
By Yang Yi Yong
North East Zone,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Mr Manivanan Muthu Somasundram, a teacher at Northland Primary School, led a group of 7 students to Sembawang Park on the 13th of September, filling 9 trash bags which weighed a total of 47 kg.
The litter collected consisted largely of plastic items, namely plastic bags, disposable beverage bottles, straws, food wrappers and take out containers. The most commonly seen item of the day were cigarette butts, which littered the coastline.
Photos by Manivanan Muthu Somasundram.
In June 2011, I conducted a recce with NParks staff at Pulau Serangoon (Coney Island) for sightings of the smooth-coated otter and for ICCS. Well there is trash there, and a lot of it is beyond the highest high water spring tide level and in the mangrove.
However, the access way from the inland road to the shore are trails through a casuarina forest. This typically undulating terrain and is destined to snap an ankle or two especially when carrying trash out from the shore to the trash disposal site. So sadly, it is too harzadous to send volunteers into the area.
So no joy for a coastal cleanup at Pulau Serangoon until we solve that problem. I have been considering a beach operation, but that will require some work to setup. For now instead, I have focused on setting up Lim Chu Kang East Mangrove and Kranji East Mangrove sites. Both these mangrove sites in the north-west typically have a very high trash load and require a lot of work to setup a safe and regular cleanup operation.
It’s been more than two years since the Pulau Serangoon recce and last week, Ivan Kwan from NParks shared photos from a visit there. He reported that the trash is still there and the shores are calling out to us for help.
You are not forgotten, marine life of Pulau Serangoon! I will keep looking out for an Organiser, a method and a band of volunteers capable enough for this site.
Meanwhile, Ivan’s photos serves as a reminder of the burden of marine trash, and you can view more in the Flickr album.
If you feel keen to do something about this, and have the field experience, do email me at email@example.com. Exam marking is almost over and we can chat during the monsoon and plan to recce the site in the first quarter of next year. No dramatics are required, slow and steady work over several years will have a miraculous effect.
Sat 16 Mar 2013 – The Northeast Zone Captains (Yiyong, Chen Kee and Kai Scene) conducted our first recce for ICCS 2013 during the morning low tides. We usually initiate site recces later in the year and were surprised by the amount of trash we saw along the coastline at all our sites.
It was more than what we typically see in September.
We started out at Pasir Ris Site 6 in order to cross the stream easily while the tides were at their lowest. We discovered a HUGE, hollow but very heavy log there. Where had it come from? Surely not a tree fall from the forest behind us, as it was huge with no roots attached. This must have been washed in by the tides, just imagine!
We proceeded on our rounds with visits to Sungei Tampines, Sungei Seletar, Punggol, Sembawang and Selimang. The East Bank of Sungei Tampines was much dirtier than the West Bank. We saw bags of trashed placed neatly at the West Bank – signs that it had been cleaned up. Uncles fishing along the West Bank informed Yiyong that the West Bank was cleaned regularly by NParks. However, much work remains to be done along the East Bank – a task for the organisation taking on the site this year.
The last stop on our recce trip was Sembawang Park. The construction there looks like it will be finished in good time for Sep 2013. It will result in a larger site if all goes well, and easily accessible too, with new staircases leading down to the shore.
While visiting the Northeast sites, it was great to hear that the guides for Otter Trail were in the vicinity conducting their recce. They visited Pasir Ris Park too! Unfortunately, we were heading the opposite direction and did not meet along the way.
We ended the recce feeling more prepared and ready to welcome organisers to the Northeast. Looking forward to a fruitful ICCS 2013!