Jan 2018 sampling events for NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme

TM7 trash 2017

Are you concern about marine trash and want to do more than just a cleanup? Then join us in the 2017–2019 NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme!

Join us in the upcoming sampling events for Jan 2018!
No prior experience is required, just your interest! Briefing and sampling supplies would be provided. Please click on the links below to register.

  1. Selimang Beach on 14 Jan 2018, Sunday, 2:45pm – 5:30pm: https://marinedebrissampling14jan2018.eventbrite.sg
  2. Pulau Ubin on 20 Jan 2018, Saturday, 2:00pm – 5:30pm:
    https://marinedebrissampling20jan2018.eventbrite.sg

What is it about?
It is a citizen science programme that is recently initiated to engage volunteers, schools, and organizations with an interest to survey and collect data on marine debris found on Singapore’s beaches. Click on this link or the tab above to find out more!

What will we collect and why?
Data on both macro-debris (>5 mm) and microplastics (1 – 5 mm) will be collected from nine sites every month. These data collected would provide recommendations to decision-making by forming the national baseline of marine debris for Singapore and supplementing the annual ICCS data.

How can I get involved?
For individuals who are interested in participating in the data collection exercises, please sign up with this form to receive updates of monthly sampling events.

For schools / organisation, sign up with this form for the programme with 20‒40 participants and you will be guided through the data collection exercise. A research sampling kit and cleanup supplies could be loaned as required

For more information on this programme, please contact Joleen at joleen.chan@nus.edu.sg

Thank you for caring for the coastal marine environment!

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Be a part of the NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme!

TM7 trash 2017

Are you concern about marine trash and want to do more than just a cleanup? Then join us in the 2017–2019 NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme!

What is it about?
It is a citizen science programme that is recently initiated to engage volunteers, schools, and organizations with an interest to survey and collect data on marine debris found on Singapore’s beaches. Click on this link or the tab above to find out more!

What will we collect and why?
Data on both macro-debris (>5 mm) and microplastics (1 – 5 mm) will be collected from nine sites every month. These data collected would provide recommendations to decision-making by forming the national baseline of marine debris for Singapore and supplementing the annual ICCS data.

How can I get involved?
For individuals who are interested in participating in the data collection exercises, please sign up with this form to receive updates of monthly sampling events.

For schools / organisation, sign up with this form for the programme with 20‒60 participants and you will be guided through the data collection exercise. A research sampling kit and cleanup supplies could be loaned as required.

Join us in the upcoming sampling events!
No prior experience is required, just your interest! Briefing and sampling supplies would be provided.

  1. Beach at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on 25 Nov 2017 (Sat) 8:30am – 11:30am: https://marinedebrissampling25nov2017.eventbrite.sg
  2. Changi Beach, Carpark 6 on 29 Nov 2017 (Wed) 8:30am – 11:30am: https://marinedebrissampling29nov2017.eventbrite.sg
  3. East Coast Park Area C on 30 Nov 2017 (Thu) 8:30am – 11:30am: https://marinedebrissampling30nov2017.eventbrite.sg
  4. Coney Island, Beach A on 02 Dec 2017 (Sat) 3:00pm – 6:00pm: https://marinedebrissampling02dec2017.eventbrite.sg

For more information on this programme, please contact Joleen at joleen.chan@nus.edu.sg

Thank you for caring for the coastal marine environment!

“Debris ingestion by sea turtles is a global phenomenon of increasing magnitude”

Schuyler, Q., B. D. Hardesty, C. Wilcox & K. Townsend, 2013. Global analysis of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles. Conservation Biology, open-access, early-view article (free download).

[The authors] “analyzed 37 studies published from 1985 to 2012 that report on data collected from before 1900 through 2011.

Turtles in nearly all regions studied ingest debris, but the probability of ingestion was not related to modeled debris densities.

Furthermore, smaller, oceanic-stage turtles were more likely to ingest debris than coastal foragers, whereas carnivorous species were less likely to ingest debris than herbivores or gelatinovores.

… oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of both lethal and sublethal effects from ingested marine debris.

To reduce this risk, anthropogenic debris must be managed at a global level.”

Global analysis of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles

Global analysis of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles

The authors raised several points about debris management:

  1. “Standardized reporting methods on debris effects on wildlife, including debris type and size, species, and life-history stage of animals affected, would go a long way toward creating a globally consistent and comparable data set.
  2. Increased efforts to understand debris effects in underresearched areas where turtles occur in great numbers (especially Southeast Asia, western and northern Australia, South America, and Africa), and in mid-ocean pelagic turtles would be beneficial.
  3. Our results show clearly that debris ingestion by sea turtles is a global phenomenon of increasing magnitude. Our finding that oceanic-stage green and leatherback turtles are at higher risk than benthic-feeding carnivorous turtles means management actions to target these species and life stages should be considered. This is particularly important for leatherback turtles that spend the bulk of their lives in oceanic waters, and are listed as critically endangered (IUCN 2012).
  4. Ingestion prevalence at stranding locations was not related to predicted debris density, likely due to the long migrations of turtles. Thus, conducting coastal cleanups will not solve the problem of debris accumulation in the pelagic environment, where animals are most commonly affected, although it is an important step in preventing marine debris input into the ocean.
  5. Anthropogenic debris is not only a problem for endangered turtles and other marine wildlife, but also affects human health and safety (e.g., discarded sharps and medical waste and ship encounters with large items). Debris also has aesthetic and economic consequences and may result in decreased tourism (Ballance et al. 2000), reduced economic benefits from fisheries (Havens et al. 2008), and damage to vessels (Jones 1995). Furthermore, debris destroys habitats and aids in the transport of invasive species (Sheavly & Register 2007). It is therefore a high priority to address this global problem.
  6. An estimated 80% of debris comes from land-based sources; hence, it is critical to implement effective waste management strategies and to create and maintain a global survey and comprehensive database of marine debris ingestion and entanglement.
  7. Additionally, it is worth engaging with industry to create and implement appropriate innovations and controls to assist in decreasing marine debris.”
Green Turtle 01
Photo by Rafn Ingi Finnsson

“Prevalence of microplastics in Singapore’s coastal marine environment.”

K. L. Ng & J. P. Obbard, 2006. Prevalence of microplastics in Singapore’s coastal marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 52(7): 761-767.

Abstract – Microplastics have been recently identified as marine pollutants of significant concern due to their persistence, ubiquity and potential to act as vectors for the transfer and exposure of persistent organic pollutants to marine organisms. This study documents, for the first time, the presence and abundance of microplastics (>1.6 μm) in Singapore’s coastal environment.

An optimized sampling protocol for the collection and analysis of microplastics was developed, and beach sediments and seawater (surface microlayer and subsurface layer) samples were collected from nine different locations around the coastline. Low density microplastics were separated from sediments by flotation and polymer types were identified using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry.

  • Synthetic polymer microplastics identified in beach sediments included polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon, polyvinyl alcohol and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
  • Microplastics were detected in samples from four out of seven beach environments, with the greatest quantity found in sediments from two popular beaches [East Coast & Pasir Ris Parks] in the eastern part of Singapore.
  • Polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene microplastics were also found in the surface microlayer (50–60 μm) and subsurface layer (1 m) of coastal waters.

The presence of microplastics in sediments and seawater is likely due to on-going waste disposal practices from industries and recreational activities, and discharge from shipping.

Breaking the cycle of plastics in the ocean

Ocean Conservancy Magazine, Autumn 2007 – Feature Story: “What Comes Around.” By Andrew Myers.Breaking the cycle of plastics in the ocean

“Honolulu – a researcher comes upon the decomposing remains of a Laysan albatross chick, a “gooney bird,” as it’s known. The dead bird’s white and smoky gray feathers twist in the wind. A few break off and tumble down the beach. Clearly visible through the bird’s denuded rib cage are the remnants of its last meals. Red, blue, yellow, orange—the colors are striking against the feathers and bleached bone. Plastic shards. A bottle cap. A cigarette lighter. No one can say for certain what killed the bird, but there’s enough plastic in its gizzard to limit, if not cut off, the vital nutrients it needed to survive. “

While cleanups battle and analyse the problem, increase awareness and motivate action, we will need a drastic change in human behaviour, even “broad cultural changes” and technological solutions in the search for alternatives and ways to harvest the current plastic load circling in the sea.

Plastic debris – curse of the albatross

Marie Y. Azzarello & Edward S. Van Vleet, 1987. Marine birds and plastic pollution. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 37: 295-303.

Abstract: The intrinsic properties and widespread presence of plastic particles in the marine environment have profound effects on birds inhabiting the world’s oceans. Industrial and user-plastics composed of polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene, styrofoam, and polyvinyl chloride are the most prevalent forms of plastic marine pollution.

Their dispersal and accumulation, in average densities of 1000 to 4000 pieces km-2, are controlled by surface currents, wind patterns, and different geographic inputs. Seabirds in the order Procellariiformes are most vulnerable to the effects of plastic ingestion due to their smaller gizzard and their inability to regurgitate ingested plastics.

Planktivores have a higher incidence of ingested plastics than do piscivores as the former are more likely to confuse plastic pellets with copepods, euphausiids, and cephalopods. Hence, diet may be a major factor determining the quantity of plastic ingested. Physiological effects related to the ingestion of plastics include obstruction of the gastrointestines and of subsequent passage of food into the intestines, blockage of gastric enzyme secretion, diminished feeding stimulus, lowered steroid hormone levels, delayed ovulation and reproductive failure.

As plastic manufacture and use increases and subsequent disposal at sea becomes more extensive, the impact of dscarded plastic on birds inhabiting the marine environment may also be expected to increase.

Download the pdf of the paper here.


Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi, Order Procellariiformes),
Otago Peninsula (off Dunedin), New Zealand.
Photo by Anita Gould.