Plastic bottles, plastic straws, plastic bags: How we celebrated Youth Day

11 July 2015 – ICCS celebrated Youth Day by conducting a Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop, as well as a cleanup at Sungei Pandan Mangrove (Site 1). 23 participants joined us for the workshop held at the Learning Lab in Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which started off with a specimen show-and-tell session. These specimens reflected the mangrove biodiversity of Sungei Pandan, and gave our participants greater insights into animals such as the Mangrove Horseshoe Crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda), the Mud Lobster (Thalassina anomala), and the Dog-faced Water Snake (Cerberus rynchops).

11722161_1008211915864312_933592595218142248_oSpecimen show-and-tell session with ICCS Intern Becky Lee, and Veteran Toddycat Alvin Wong.

Following the specimen show-and-tell, N. Sivasothi aka ‘Otterman’ (Siva) gave a talk on Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability in the context of Singapore. Siva, who has coordinated ICCS since 2001 shared about natural habitats that still exist in Singapore and their ecological importance. Dr Amy Choong from the Department of Biological Sciences in National University of Singapore rounded off the workshop by sharing about waste management practices in Singapore, and sustainable habits each individual can take up to protect the environment.

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Left: N Sivasothi aka ‘Otterman’ sharing about mangroves that can still be found in Singapore.
Right: Dr Amy Choong speaking about waste collection and incineration in Singapore.

After the workshop, our participants got ready to head off to Sungei Pandan for the mangrove cleanup. More volunteers came to join us in the cleanup effort. With a total of 31 volunteers, we removed more than 200kg of trash in 50 trash bags! It was a muddy affair and an intense workout, lifting the trash laden bags out of the mangrove. But everyone pulled their weight and lent each other a helping hand when needed.

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A trash-ridden mangrove, filled with plastic bottles, plastic straws and plastic bags.

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During our cleanup, many of us got a special glimpse into the biodiversity of Sungei Pandan Mangrove. Sesarmine Crabs (Perisesarma sp.), Red Berry Snails (Assiminea sp.) and mud mounds by the Mud Lobster (Thalassina anomala) were aplenty! The stretches of mangrove in Sungei Pandan is precious to us, and despite it being reduced to 3 small, unprotected patches in the South West, it still holds much mangrove life and gives us much to be proud of. In our last cleanup, some of our participants were lucky to get a glimpse of the Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale Perspicillata) in the river!

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youth day 2015

A big thank you to everyone who joined us for a meaningful Youth Day celebration!

The awful sight of trash in the Sungei Pandan mangrove

15 June 2015 & 7 July 2015 – We headed down to Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP1) in preparation for the Youth Day Mangrove Cleanup on 11 July 2015. We had previously organised a cleanup at Sungei Pandan Mangrove for World Water Day on 21 March 2015, where some of our participants reported sightings of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the river!

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Despite great news of otters in the habitat, the sight of plastic bottles amongst the vegetation still gets extremely depressing. The patch of mangrove is small and unprotected, and it is rarely cleaned. Trash therefore accumulates, making the ecosystem inhospitable for biodiversity to thrive.

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After examining the trash load and determining how much manpower and logistics would be needed on Saturday, we admired the Tree-climbing Crabs (Perisesarma sp.), Rodong Snails (Telescopium telescopium) and Red Berry Snails (Assiminea sp.). Despite it’s located in an industrial area, Pandan Mangrove still has mangrove life!

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Our participants on Saturday will not only take away the message of marine trash and the impact it has on the natural environment, but also the value of our local mangrove habitats. Singapore isn’t just a concrete jungle, but our surviving ecosystems deserve recognition! Here’s to a successful Youth Day celebration!

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!

Register for year-round beach cleanups at Changi, East Coast, Pasir Ris and Sembawang with NEA & PHC

NEA and PHC have reorganised registration for year-round recreational beach cleanups by schools, corporate and community groups. You can register for a cleanup slot at Changi, East Coast, Pasir Ris and Sembawang beaches.

This is very helpful as these are safe beaches with facilities, prevents crowding of the site and ensures that arrangements are made for disposal of collected trash. Park managers and contractors will be aware of your cleanup too. Note that PHC indicates the capacity for Sembawang Beach is 20 persons only.

Here are the details from the NEA and PHC webpages:

Beach cleanups for schools (NEA)
NEA has revamped the Seashore Life Programme to the Clean Singapore Learning Trail (Beaches). The page has link for registration which requires contact details, the preferred date and location of the clean-up and the number of participants.

Locations offered are recreational beaches with facilities at Changi, East Coast, Pasir Ris and Sembawang.

Booking a slot requires a minimum of two weeks notice. While registration is required for a beach cleanup, the exercise is to be conducted independently of NEA staff and no ‘Certificate of Participation’ will be issued. For queries, write in to register@nea.gov.sg.

NEA Clean Singapore Learning Trail  Beaches

Urban cleanups for primary schools (primary three and four; NEA)
This Clean Singapore Learning Trail (Beaches) complements NEA’s Clean Singapore Learning Trail for primary schools, which is a refreshed Keep Singapore Clean Effort which focused on cleanups of roads and common spaces.

NEA Clean Singapore Learning Trail

Beach cleanups for corporate and community groups (PHC)
The Public Hygiene Council (PHC) offers Beach Clean-up registrations for the the same beaches at Changi, East Coast, Pasir Ris and Sembawang for non-school groups. Once again registration must be submitted a minimum of two weeks in advance and requires contact details and date, time and location choices as well as the number of participants. Sembawang Beach’s capacity is capped at 20.

The cleanup exercise is to be conducted independently of NEA or PHC staff and no ‘Certificate of Participation’ will be issued. For queries, write to admin@publichygienecouncil.sg.

PHC Beach Cleanup

This is wonderful as it relieves ICCS of the need to help manage recreational beach cleanups and focus on more experienced groups tackling non-recreational beaches! We will revamp our Year-Round Coastal Cleanup advisory accordingly.

Site Allocation Exercise 3 – 76% of sites allocated for ICCS in Sep 2015!

Friday evenings, 22 May & 26 Jun 2015: 7.00pm @ NUS Faculty of Science Active Learning Room [S16-03] – The ICCS Otters conducted the second and third Site Allocation Exercise (SAX2/SAX3) in preparation for ICCS 2015, scheduled for 19 Sep 2015.

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At SAX1 on 24 Apr 2015, 33 organisations had registered 1,946 volunteers for ICCS. Two months later at SAX3, there were 60 organisations comprising 3,507 volunteers which have registered for ICCS 2015. This means three-quarters of our shores capacity has been met and we expect more to trickle in.

Zone Captains have had to juggle some organisations between sites in order to fit their estimated participation while taking into consideration their logistical needs (e.g. access to facilities) – and organisers were confirmation at their sites.

As of now, the zone status are:

  1. North-West – 81% filled; three sites open
  2. North-East – 71% filled; two sites open, two almost full
  3. Pulau Ubin – 59% filled; five sites open, one almost full
  4. Changi – 100% filled; one site almost full
  5. Tanah Merah – 64% filled; five sites open
  6. East Coast – 100% filled; all sites full
  7. South – 73% filled; three sites open, one almost full

For details, see status.coastalcleanupsingapore.org:

ICCS Status 2

Next, the ICCS team will focus on the Organiser’s Workshop and joint recces before the final event. We look forward to working with our Organisers closely for ICCS 2015!

ICCS @ Festival of Biodiversity 2015: What can we do for our oceans?

27 & 28 June 2015 – With the help of passionate volunteers, ICCS headed down to VivoCity with the NUS Toddycats for Festival of Biodiversity 2015! The festival, an initiative by NParks and the Biodiversity Roundtable actively engages members of the public since 2012 to celebrate our local flora and fauna.

Do read more about the collective NUS Toddycats! effort at Festival of Biodiversity 2015 here!

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Left: Amanda Ng talking about the Dugong (Dugong dugon)
Right: Wu Bokai talking about the Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea)
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Left: Letchumi Mani shares about Horseshoe crabs on our shores (family: Limulidae)
Right: Fascinated by the Dugong!
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Left: Lesley Chng sharing about mangrove snakes
Right: Foo Maosheng holds up the majestic fruit of the Nipah palm (Nypa fruticans)
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Left: Max Khoo talking about the Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea) and sharing stories about the Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) in Singapore!
Right: Ng Kai Scene talking about the Giant Mudskipper in our mangroves (Periophthalmodon schlosseri)
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Left: Teo Kah Ming talking about the threat marine trash poses to our biodiversity
Right: Nishtha Anand talking about mangrove fishes!
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Left: Nicholas Yap talking about Stripe-nosed Halfbeak (Zenarchopterus buffonis)
Right: Sofina Ng sharing stories about the Dugong (Dugong dugon)

There were many more volunteers who spent the two days helping us spread messages from our seas, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them – they were up on their feet for hours, some nearly loosing their voice after constant talking!

Thank you to 34 wonderful volunteers who took different shifts throughout the two days: Theresa Su, Chris Zheng, Chua Li En Jacqueline, Erika Ivana Halim, Eyu Xue Yi, Kwok Yan Hoe, Lim Jin Hong, Low Xiang Hui, Lynette Ying, Mah Guo Wei, Max Khoo De Yuan, Neo Meng Yang, Ng Chao Xiang, Ng Kai Scene, Ng Wei Ling Amanda, Nur Azarina Khamis, Ong Yue Qi, Seah Shi Qi Cheyanne, Seah Shi’en Maryann, Sofina Ng, Steffi Loe, Tan Shiao Ying, Teo Kia Meng, Vincent Ong, Wang Jialun, Wong Siew Lien, Yang Yi Yong, Nicholas Yap, Nishtha Anand, Teo Kah Ming, Lesley Chng, Foo Maosheng, and Letchumi Mani. Lastly, thank you to Ng Chao Xiang and Adriane Lee for helping us with photography!

These outreach events hold great significance in the nature community. Not only does it bring everyone together with the common goal of raising awareness about our natural habitats, but also gives us an opportunity to interact with members of the public and encourage a greater appreciation for local biodiversity. Preparation for such events may be tiring, but after two days of being able to share what we are passionate about, we can definitely say it’s worth it!

Here’s to Festival of Biodiversity 2016 next year!

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!