NUS‒NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme

Contributing to the national baseline on marine debris data and celebrating the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2018

The 2017–2019 NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme is a citizen science programme initiated in November 2017. It engaged volunteers, schools, and organizations with an interest to survey and collect data on marine debris found on Singapore’s beaches. Data on both macro-debris (>5 mm) and microplastics (1 – 5 mm) was collected over 15 months from 20 quadrats (2.5 m by 2.5 m) at six sites every two months (see map below). This data would help form the national baseline of marine debris for Singapore to help inform practioners, managers and decision-makers.

With the help of dedicated individuals, school, and organisations, the 15-month survey was completed. In 2018, the results are being analysed, and workshops to engage agencies, volunteers and interest groups & NGOs are being conducted.

More about the programme

Why research marine debris?
Marine debris is a great cause of concern due to its presence in all our oceans and adverse impact on the marine environment and wildlife.  This quantitative sampling will supplement the more than 10 years of annual September data on marine debris from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore programme. The combined data will provide a better assessment of temporal and seasonal variations of macro-debris and microplastics in Singapore.

Why sample using quadrats? The locations of the 20 quadrats were randomly selected and then fixed to give a better representation of the debris profile of each beach. By returning to the same quadrats each month, we can provide quantitative, repeatable data which identifies the occurrence and accumulation rate as well as categorical data about marine debris and reflect temporal trends.

Where are the sampling locations? Locations of marine debris monitoring programme

To find out what the programme entails, please view the poster below.


Joleen Chan
Research Assistant
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore