ICCS Youth Day Celebrations: Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop + Mangrove Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan

In celebration of Youth Day, ICCS will offer a Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop and Mangrove Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan. We hope to introduce youth with an awareness of mangrove biodiversity, the impact marine trash and steps we can take on site and in our daily lives to improve the situation. 

Note: Our “Youth Day Celebrations” are open to all ages!
Registration is closed, thank you to everyone who signed up!

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Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop: 12.00pm – 2.00pm
Venue: Learning Lab @ Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
This workshop introduces participants to marine life in Singapore, the precious and surviving Sungei Pandan mangrove and the impact of marine trash. We will also explore sustainable solutions individuals can undertake to make a difference both onsite and upstream in our daily lives.

Itinerary
11.45am – 12.00pm: Registration
12.00pm – 12.30pm: Marine Life in Singapore and the mangroves of Sungei Pandan by N. Sivasothi aka ‘Otterman’.
12.30pm – 1.00pm: Introduction to mangrove and marine life with museum specimens.
1.00pm – 1.30pm: How individuals can make a difference in sustainability at home and at the workplace by Dr Amy Choong.
1.30pm – 2.00pm: Q&A & field trip preparations.

Youth Day Mangrove Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan: 2.00pm – 4.30pm
Meeting point: Bus stop @ Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

ICCS hopes to celebrate the youthful spirit with a cleanup at Sungei Pandan, a small, precious and unprotected patch of mangrove located in south-western Singapore. Through this exercise, participants be introduced to this historical site and obtain a first-hand understanding of the marine trash issue in Singapore.

Itinerary
2.00pm – 2.30pm: Transport from LKCNHM to Sungei Pandan Mangrove.
2.30pm – 2.45pm: Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Collect gloves and trash bags.
2.45pm – 4.00pm: Mangrove cleanup
4.00pm – 4.15pm: Move trash to TCP.
4:15pm – 4.30pm: Weigh and record trash; debrief.
4.30pm – Bus leaves for LKCNHM.

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Things to note

  1. Transport to Sungei Pandan Mangrove, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You MUST wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to protect your feet.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended for after the sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. We will halt the cleanup if there is threat of lightning.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho (we will work in rain)
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent lunch – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of Sungei Pandan for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for our planet!

Year-Round Coastal Cleanup – BASF remove 147kg of trash @ Changi Beach (28 May 2015)

28 May 2015 – Yoko Koike, Communications Manager of Petrochemicals Asia Pacific reports,

“A team from the Petrochemicals Division at BASF South East Asia Pte. Ltd. volunteered to clean up the Changi Beach Park under the Year-Round Coastal Cleanup (YRCC) program. The team collected a total of 147 kg trash along the 1 km coastline.

Considering that this is a recreational beach, the amount of trash was much more than what the participants had anticipated. The largest and quite unexpected item found was a mooring line which took three people to pull along to the Trash Collection Point.”

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“The cleanup activity and the discussion focused on marine litter and helped raise the awareness about the global issue of marine littering and waste management among the group. Participants agreed that our effort that may seem small, but can make a difference when it comes to creating a sustainable future collectively.”

Congratulations to the BASF team on your effort for the environment and Organisers Yoko Koike and Evelyn Ong who efficiently organised the cleanup!

Shocked by FIVE kg of straws @ Tanah Merah Beach 7 – the World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup

On Saturday 6th June 2015, 52 participants removed more than 632kg of trash in 89 trash bags at Tanah Merah Beach 7. After an introduction to the site and procedural briefing, ICCS Deputy Coordinator Kai Scene conducted a comprehensive safety briefing.2015-06-06 08.10.28

ICCS Dy Coord Ng Kai Scene conducting the safety briefing before the cleanup

Straws stood out that day at Tanah Merah Beach 7. I overheard a few comments about the numerous straws on the beach and decided to focus on collecting straws alone. I ended up with a whopping 5kg of straws!

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As they cleaned the beach, participants observed the biodiversity at Tanah Merah Beach. The intertidal zone was covered in Tape seagrass (Enhalus Acoroides), and Batillaria snails (Batillaria zonalis), as well as burrows created by Sand bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.) and Ghost crabs (Ocypode sp.)! I counted 24 casts from the Acorn Worm (Enteropneusta sp.), and 15 Haddon’s Carpet Anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni).

Furthermore, the low morning tide of 0.2m allowed us to witness the beautiful coral reefs of Tanah Merah! Sandpaper corals (Psammocora sp.), Galaxy corals (Galaxea sp.), Pore corals (Porites sp.), Anemone corals (Goniopora sp.), and Favid Corals (family Faviidae) have been reported from here. Read more about the living reefs of Tanah Merah on Ria Tan’s blog post.

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After 90 minutes, we began to weigh the trash bags and formed a human chain to move them from the beach to the Trash Collection Point at the carpark. later that afternoon, a contractor detached by NEA’s Department of Public Cleanliness would later collect them. Everyone worked really hard together to transport the trash efficiently!

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With the hard work of the day accomplished, we debriefed the participants at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, and discussed everyday solutions to reduce waste generation. Avoiding disposables by bringing your own tumbler and lunchbox begins to make a difference. Refusing a straw for your drink – and encouraging your friends and family to do the same begins to get us to think about upstream solutions.

These actions help us  reduce the amount of waste we send to incinerators in Singapore, but also begins to address our throw-away culture.

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Some of the 44 participants with the 89 bags of trash!

Congratulations to everyone who came down for the world Environment Day cleanup. See you at the next cleanup!

“Marine Life and the Threat of Marine Trash” – ICCS talks for your organisation in Jun-Jul 2015!

ICCS conducts talks on local marine biodiversity and the dangers of marine trash for schools and corporate groups! If you would like your students or co-workers to learn more about these marine issues before your cleanup register with this form to arrange a talk in Jun-Jul 2015.

Please note that talks will no longer be available after 20 September 2015!

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7115062911_4c7e19db7aICCS 2012 Manpower Captain Jocelyne Sze speaking to Queenstown Secondary School students for Earth Day.

What do we cover during our talks?

1) Local Marine Biodiversity
What exactly are “marine habitats” and what can we find in these environments? Despite major land reclamation works on our coastlines, Singapore still does have a substantial amount of marine life! This section will give a brief introduction into marine flora and fauna, and where they can be found on our island.

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2) The Threat of Marine Trash
How “clean and green” are our beaches exactly? This section will offer insight into the plight of some beaches and mangroves in Singapore, and the dangers that trash in these environments pose to marine life, as well as to us.

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3) What the ICCS data tells us
What can we deduce about marine trash through looking at data? What does our trash mainly comprise of and what is the significance of data collection during coastal cleanups?

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4) What can we do?
How can we change our daily habits into more sustainable alternatives? This section will offer insight into small things individuals can do to play their part for the oceans.

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For blog posts about talks by ICCS in the past, see this page.

The marine trash on Tanah Merah beach is appalling!

25 May 2015 – Tanah Merah Zone Captain Joleen Chan and myself headed down to Tanah Merah Beach 7 in preparation for the World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup on 6 June 2015.

I was last here during the Chinese New Year Coastal Cleanup (26 Feb 2015) where we removed 43 trash bags of trash weighing 386 kg. The trash then was concentrated along the strandline, as the intertidal zone having been cleaned during last September’s ICCS and probably intermittently since by NEA.

At the recce now, trash was once again dispersed throughout the beach with not an area unaffected.

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The first section of the beach was already covered in styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) and other plastics. Plastic straws in particular stood out as they were visible throughout the intertidal zone.

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We picked up as many plastic straws we could find within a 2.5 m x 2.5 m quadrat and the count was 257 straws! Imagine the number of straws we could find over the entire beach!

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Left: The straws we picked in the 2.5m2 quadrant. Right: Joleen with a box filled with trash she collected.

Despite the depressing nature of our recce, we were fortunate to still see much marine life on the beach. Tanah Merah 7 is usually closed to members of the public and this relatively undisturbed. Marine life which can cope with the existing pressure on the shoreline has a chance to thrive!

We were excited to encounter a Haddon’s Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) in the first 10 minutes, and saw a smaller one towards the end of our recce!

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Haddon’s Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni)

As we assessed the trash load in subsequent bays, we heard a familiar sound of five smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) running from the vegetation towards the sea! We spent a happy 30 seconds watching them, before they disappeared behind the seawall and on their journey.

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Five smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata)

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Left: Batillaria snails (Batillaria zonalis) were observed in large numbers throughout the shoreline. Here you can also see tiny strands of Tape Seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). Right: Codium green seaweed (Codium sp.)

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Beautiful flowers of Sea Hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum) had dropped to the sand.

All that marine life surviving amidst the trash was a great reminder for why we conduct coastal cleanups. The beauty of the natural landscape, highlighted by individual organisms, was tainted by the mindless and countless pieces of styrofoam, straws, plastic bags and plastic bottles. Besides the biological and chemical impact on the environment, that trash reflects an absence of respect for nature.

To see a habitat so devalued and polluted saddened me greatly. The difference we will make during the World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup at Tanah Merah Beach must extend to action in our daily lives, as we realise the far reaching effectg of our urban lifestyles to the environment.

Celebrate World Environment Day with a coastal cleanup @ Tanah Merah 7!

In conjunction with World Environment Day, volunteers with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) will be conducting a marine trash cleanup at Tanah Merah Beach 7 on Sat 06 Jun 2015: 8.00am – 10.30am.

Registration is closed, thank you to everyone who signed up!

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World Environment Day is a day sanctioned by the United Nations (UN) that aims to raise global awareness about the environment and encourage everyone to take positive action to protect our natural environment.

Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Volunteers in Singapore, like other concerned individuals around the world, conduct coastal cleanups to remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to adopt sustainable practises in daily urban living.

Tanah Merah Beach 7 is state land located in the east of Singapore, next to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT). This area is closed to members of the public and permission is needed for access .

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At first view, Tanah Merah Beach 7 appears pristine. However, within the vegetation of the high strandline lies accumulated trash.

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Meeting Point: On the event day of 6th June 2015, we will meet at 7.45am at Carpark D opposite the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT), and walk over to the cleanup site.

Directions from Tanah Merah MRT to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT)

  • Participants can take bus 35 from the Tanah Merah MRT bus stop (bus code: 85091).
  • Alight 4 stops later, at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal bus stop (bus code: 96219).
  • Yang Yiyong (see image below) will be stationed at the TMFT bus stop, so alight when you see him! He will be wearing a bright red shirt.

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Directions to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT)

Itinerary 

  • 7:45am – We meet at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal carpark, and walk over to the cleanup site together.
  • 8.00am – Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Brief of wet weather plans (which is to carry on unless there is a lighting threat). Organise everyone into groups of four, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, and other required logistics.
  • 8.15am – Cleanup begins @ TM7 Beach
  • 9.30am – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time.
  • 9.45am – Transportation of trash to TCP.
  • 10.15am – Participants clean up. Recreational facilities are available at the nearby Ferry Terminal.
  • 10.30am – Event ends.

Things to note

  1. Gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. In the event of bad weather, we will continue the cleanup. The event will stop in the case of lightning threat.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of TM7 for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for the environment!

Observing recruitment of marine trash over 2 weeks @ Lim Chu Kang – World Biodiversity Day Coastal Cleanup

On 3 May 2015, 29 volunteers went with us to Lim Chu Kang Beach during “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!” and removed 892kg of trash.

2 weeks later, 32 of us headed down to Lim Chu Kang Beach again in commemoration of World Biodiversity Day and in 76 trash bags, removed 518kg worth of marine trash.

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Despite removing a huge trash load 2 weeks ago, Lim Chu Kang beach was once again littered with plastics and styrofoam when we returned on Saturday evening.

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Everyone working hard to free the mudflat of trash.

Although only 2 weeks has passed since our last cleanup, we still collected another 518kg worth of trash comprising of items like plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers and styrofoam pieces. This is only a tiny fraction of the trash that is polluting our oceans and coastal habitats.

Where does this trash come from? The production of plastic has soared since it first started getting produced in the 1950s, and in 2013 we were producing 299 million tonnes of plastic globally. As a lightweight and versatile material, plastic is no doubt an extremely useful invention. However, single use plastic items can end up accumulating in landfills or littering our beaches and mangroves.

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The production of plastic soaring from the 1950s to 2013. Source: statista.com, 2013.

Coastal cleanups can only do so much to lighten the burden of trash on our coastal environment. What can we do to address plastic pollution in our daily lives? Start small by rejecting single-use plastics like straws when buying iced drinks. Bring your own tumbler or coffee mug when you takeaway your morning coffee, or use your own lunchbox when you buy takeaway meals. These are easy things we can do to reduce our impact on our environment. Say no to single-use plastics, and spread the word of sustainability to your family and friends!

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We ended the cleanup with a debrief where we discussed actions we can take on to reduce our use of disposables.

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Thank you to everyone who came down on World Biodiversity Day, it was a great effort in caring for our Lim Chu Kang mudflats!