25 Apr 2015 – In preparation for “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!,” an event in collaboration with the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee and the ICCS-IKEA Intern headed down to Lim Chu Kang Beach for a recce.
The low tide (0.8m) revealed trash throughout the entire mudflat. From plastic jerrycans, food containers and water bottles to styrofoam plates, these polymers were a constant sight throughout the habitat, amidst twigs and roots of trees. New pieces of trash were floating in the water, brought in by the incoming tide.
The mudflat faces the Western Straits of Johor which see trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as offshore fish farms. Accumulation of plastics and styrofoam in the habitat greatly impacts the biodiversity there, and devalues the beauty of a mangrove ecosystem.
In the photo on the right, ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee demonstrates the appropriate footwear – shin-high water booties, for participants, if they wish to wade into the mud.
Despite the depressing sight, Adriane and I were pleasantly surprised by a family of four smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the water. They seemed to be engaged in a territorial dispute with dogs at the Police Coast Guard jetty.
Of the guard dogs and otters.
Apart from otters, there were signs of Sand-bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.), a rewarding sight and reminder of why we conduct our coastal cleanups.
While chatting with an uncle who works with the coastal fish farmers, we found out that the beach was regularly cleaned by NEA. Two days before we visited the place, a team of cleaners had filled three lorries worth of more than 200 trash bags each – all to be sent to the incineration plant. Being so regularly cleaned, the habitat remained trashy from the constant recruitment.
Our participants on Sunday have food for thought – the origin of all that pollution, and how they can play a role in curbing the recurring trash load. We look forward to meeting them, and here’s to a meaningful Sunday afternoon at Lim Chu Kang Beach!