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!