ICCS 2015 Organisers’ Workshops: Why and how do we conduct coastal cleanups?

1 – 3 July 2015: 7.00pm-9.30pm @ NUS Faculty of Science Active Learning Room [S16-03] — 42 ICCS Organisers attended the 2015 workshops to learn more about why and how to organise coastal cleanups. Three consecutive nights of 150-min workshops conducted by 6–8 zone captains each night ensured small group interaction and adequate attention especially for the first-time organisers.

At the last Site Allocation Meeting (SAX3), ICCS Otters discussed the design of the workshop. N. Sivasothi aka Otterman reorganised workshop slides for brevity and adjusted session design to increase interaction. Zone Captains, some new at instruction, prepared their lesson plan based on this format to ready themselves for action! The workshop format also ensured Organisers had plenty of time to clarify queries.

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Each day began with an introduction into local marine biodiversity and the impact of marine trash. Despite a history of reclamation at out shores and a busy shipping port, Singapore has six different aquatic ecosystems and much marine life whic has survived this impact. Knowledge of our marine life motivates us to conduct coastal cleanups, as we realise otherwise that many animals such as sea turtles and horseshoe crabs ingest plastic, or get entangled in trash.

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Left: Sankar A, Ubin Zone Captain shares about the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).
Right: Joys Tan, Tanah Merah Zone Captain reveals what non-recreational beaches in Singapore actually look like.

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Left: Tan Chia Wu, Changi Zone Captain talks about the organisational process behind a conducting coastal cleanup.
Right: Airani S, Data Captain runs through the ICCS Data Card, familiarising everyone with the different categories.

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The group break-out sessions were extremely helpful, providing first-time organisers the opportunity to consult our Zone Captains, as well as the more experienced organisers who imparted useful advice!

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Our Zone Captains also role-played – here, they demonstrated the human-chain – an effective method in transferring heavy trash bags from the cleanup site to the Trash Collection Point (TCP).

We ended each day with a very important chapter – solutions for sustainability after the coastal cleanup. Cleanup events are very importantly about education. The exposure iotaof participants to the reality of marine trash must be coupled with useful ideas about daily life – thinking about the necessity of disposable water bottles or recycling.

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Next up for ICCS Organisers are their site recces. ICCS 2015 is picking up speed!

ICCS Workshop for Organisers 2015

We are pleased to announce the ICCS Workshop 2015 for Organisers.
This workshop will update and equip you with information and strategies for running a safe, effective, educational and green event. We are conducting this on weekday nights in a small-group environment to enhance your experience and facilitate your asking of questions.

The workshop will be conducted this Wed-Fri 1st, 2nd and 3rd July 2015, from 7.00pm – 9.30pm. Please pick one date here: http://tinyurl.com/iccs-workshop2015. The questions on this form will help us tailor the workshop to your needs.

Details of the workshop:

Venue: Active Learning Room (S16-03),
Same floor as LT31 entrance
Faculty of Science, Block S16
Science Drive 1
National University of Singapore

Map to venue: http://tinyurl.com/map-nuslt31 (right next to the Science Canteen)

Do feel free to come casually dressed – the workshop will be conducted in a relaxed, informal manner.
We look forward to meeting you!

Zone Captains recce Tanah Merah for the Earth Day Cleanup

Earth Day is just round the corner!

In view of the upcoming cleanup at Tanah Merah on Apr 28th, 2012, Tanah Merah Zone captain: Benjamin Tan, Deputy Coordinator: Xu Weiting (formerly ICCS Tanah Merah Zone Captain) and I headed down to TM on the 14th of April to meet the organisers who will be involved in this Earth Day effort!

TM site 7 from a distance - A rather pleasant sight.

Sea view

A common sight - large cargo ships, tankers, ferries

After a slight delay, we finally set off to recce the beach!

Benjamin briefing the organisers before we set off!

Everyone listened intently as Benjamin spoke

Annie Layar, from Gammon Construction Limited (Singapore Branch), leading in the front!

Upon closer inspection of the beach, we noticed the following…

Littered with discarded bottles, glass pieces, styrofoam, packaging, and occasional balls of tar (remnants of the 2010 oil spill? See long-term effects of oil spill on marine life)

Exposed shore during low tide

The shore may seem bare, but the truth is far from it!

WildSingapore’s Tanah Merah marine life poster

Weiting holding the hermit for our friends to take a closer look!

These hermits are more active at night. Unlike true crabs with short calcified abdomens, hermit crabs’ abdomens are soft, long and curved. Because they lack their own hard shell, hermit crabs inhabit shells for protection against predation.

Me rambling on about hermit crabs and respecting wildlife

When a hermit crab outgrows its shell, it shops for another. They can be picky about the shells they choose. Witness the “Great Shell Exchange” as documented by Ria Tan on her blog.

Land Hermit Crabs are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. They used to be fairly common until, according to the Singapore Red Data Book, the implementation of many beach improvement schemes along recreational shores, which led to the clearance of ‘unsightly’ natural beach vegetation. Other factors that could have contributed to the decline of Land Hermits, especially on mainland Singapore, include the casual picking of shells by collectors as they strolled along beaches, as well as the pet trade.

Rare sighting of Land Hermit Crab in the day! (Coenobita violascens)

Read more about Hermit Crabs here and on Ria’s wonderful WildSingapore Factsheets!

A balloon cleverly disguised as Spongebob - Not a true sponge!

In other news, ill-disposed balloons, which eventually end up in our waters, are devastating to marine life! Like plastic bags and other discarded non-biodegradable trash, balloons can end up being ingested (albeit accidentally!) by turtles, and other marine life surrounding our waters AND those thousands of kilometres away. Yes, our disposable culture implicates life on a global scale!

One of many glass shards

Glass bottles in the midst of our marine life

During the recce, we saw quite a number of broken glass bottles, florescent tubes & other glass fragments. Do look out for these items and do not pick them up with your bare hands!

Slippers are not allowed

And for safety reasons, we’ll NOT allow volunteers to help if they are not wearing covered shoes.

Tread gently.

Make friends, not fiends!
During the beach cleanup, you may come across a myriad of seashore creatures. Please treat them with respect, and let us not forget that we’re the ones swinging by their neighbourhood!

Hitchhiking algae on a bazillion (Batillaria zonalis)

Just a mosaic of sand grains?

Sand bubbler art

Sand bubbler crabs are tiny and so well-camouflaged to its environment that we often miss them!

But just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there!

Sand bubbler crab (Scopimera sp.)

Their quality of life lies in our hands.

Going the distance

Independents, sign up today – get your friends to join you too!

Bring your own bottles of water!

Reducing is probably the most effective of all 5Rs! More

Help us get the message out!

Every day is Earth Day. Make a conscious effort to live more sustainably and Mother Earth thanks you!

Will you answer our call?

*Important Reminders*

We will be covering a long stretch of beach (approx. 1km) hence, there will not be a “base station” for personal belongings

  • Carry a small bag with face towel & sufficient drinking water (min. 1L)
  • Stay hydrated and rest well the night before
  • Sun block & insect repellent would be useful in this non-public beach

For answers to FAQs, do circulate this link http://tinyurl.com/yrcc-faq to your fellow friends & colleagues.

Feel free to contact Benjamin Tan and I, if you have any other queries that are not addressed:

Tanah Merah Zone Captain

Benjamin Tan


HP: 8318 8433

Tanah Merah Deputy Zone Captain

Gladys Chua


HP: 9689 7600

NUS @ ICCS 2011 – Going Green and Greener in our 9th year!

NUS Environmental Science and Engineering Students Club reflect on their efforts in leading NUS staff and students to the International Coastal Cleanup to a new cleanup site this year at Lim Chu Kang East mangrove. This is the 9th year of their efforts, which began in 2003!

On 17 September 2011, approximately 125 staff and student volunteers from NUS conducted a cleanup at Lim Chu Kang East mangrove as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS). They were also accompanied by a team of experienced personnel, including Mr N. Sivasothi who has been coordinating mangrove cleanups since 1997.

The International Coastal Cleanup is conducted in over 70-100 countries. Volunteers do more than remove debris from the shorelines and waterways, they also collect data on the type and amount of debris to bring about positive change. This is through recognition of the specifics of the marine debris problem as the data is public and also submitted to governments and international organisations

The morning briefing with the biodiesel-fueled buses
parked along Lim Chu Kang Lane 9

Each year, we re-use gloves and clipboards which are washed and kept away and ICCS data cards were printed on single-side used paper to minimise waste. An additional green touch was achieved by collaborating with Alpha Biodiesel – the three 44-seater buses which brought students and staff from and back to NUS were supplied with Alpha biodiesel – processed from used cooking oil, the net life cycle emissions of such fuel is 95% less than that of ordinary diesel fuel, thus reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released to the environment [Chua, C. B. H., H. M. Lee & J. S. C. Low, 2010. Life cycle emissions and energy study of biodiesel derived from waste cooking oil and diesel in Singapore. Int J Life Cycle Assess, 15 (4): 417-423.] .

We were glad to make this year’s ICCS event a little greener and hope this collaboration will continue!

The mangroves at Lim Chu Kang East have been choked by an accumulation of marine trash from various sources including shoreline activities, dumping and local construction debris over the years – this was the first time the area would be cleaned!

NUS staff and students endured the heat, dirt, mud, and even the occasional “rotten-egg” smell (due to hydrogen sulphide being naturally released from the mangrove soil) – for about 90 minutes. This effort to rid the mangrove of as much trash as possible eliminated a total of 1,887 kg of debris in 181 trash bags excluding bulky items such as oil drums and tyres – imagine the total amount of waste!

Plastic debris amidst the mangrove estuary before the cleanup

Count and categorise before clearing trash

Free of plastic once again, phew!

ICCS-NUS LCKeast 92iccs-lim_chu_kang_east-17sep2011[adinesh] | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Data collation

The most frequently collected items included plastic bags and plastic beverage bottles. Several interesting discoveries included a television set, car bumper, basin and even a toilet bowl! There was indeed a stark contrast in the appearance of the mangrove before and after the cleanup. For details of the debris collected, see the ICCS Results page for LCK East mangrove at http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/results/2011/nw-lckeast-nus.htm

ICCS2011 - LCK East mangrove

This was the 9th year that students from the NUS Environmental Science and Engineering Students Club (ESESC) have been organising the cleanup for NUS students and staff. During the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III held a week after ICCS on 24 September 2011, the club was recognised for its dedicated efforts and contributions.

NUS ESESC president, Algernon Hong receiving the ICCS citation
from the Minister of State for National Development, BG (Res) Tan Chuan-Jin

It was definitely great to see everyone toiling hard in the morning to play their part for the coastal environment. We hope the event serves as a reminder to each and every individual of the need to reduce the use of non-biodegradable items and to dispose trash appropriately to safeguard the health of the marine animals, ourselves and the environment.

Finally, we wish our juniors in the years ahead, great success at ICCS 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015…until our marine debris problem is eliminated!

By Derek Ang and Vionna Luah, on behalf of all the organisers of ICCS-NUS 2011. Photos by Andy Dinesh.

Year-Round Coastal Cleanups in Singapore: Site suggestions

To handle the queries that stream in throughout the year about beach cleanups, we have begun preparing this document to handle most of the basic queries: Year-Round Coastal Cleanups in Singapore: Site suggestions. This will reduce the burden on our side and improve response time to Organisers about basic issues.

This is a first draft to which links will be added about being independent, green and raising participant awareness minimally at least. Besides operational links to recce reports and photos of the sites, a useful addition will be a comparative table of sites for Organisers to figure out what where to work. This will have them reflect on their motivational state and operational capability, their volunteer’s enthusiasm and the organisation’s commitment level.

Year-Round Coastal Cleanups in Singapore: Site suggestions

Links to resources for Organisers, 2010

The resources we distributed at the Organiser’s Workshop in July are listed here for convenience:

  • Powerpoints, Organiser’s Guidelines and ICCS2010 report (88.2mb) – link
  • Short videos (56.7mb) – link
  • Long video – the ICC 2009 video (130.5mb) – link
2010 ICCS Resources for web