The first Pandan mangroves was tackled by participants from first-time organisers Oil Spill Response and East Asia Response Limited (OSREARL) and Wild Life Reserves Singapore (WRS). Accompanied by Raffles Museum Toddycats from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the 53 volunteers collected and cleared a total of 1.37 tonnes of trash.
Gearing into action in the fresh morning air at 7.45am, the participants picked their way through the delicate terrain of mangrove saplings and breathing roots. The items that dominated the terrain were plastic bags (1,296), food wrappers (826) and beverage bottles (444). But there were some peculiar items found, and these included traffic barrier lights, half of a vacuum cleaner, a rice cooker, a wooden statue of smiling Buddha, a golf bag and a lot of plastic pipes.
The mangrove resident that attracted the most attention was a pair of horseshoe crabs that were found in the trash disposal path – too dangerous for the coupling pair so they were transported to the opposite bank where we had already finished cleaning.
Only a small part of the mangrove was cleared this first year in order to manage impact to the site. And in the areas we cleared, some things were left behind -the very heavy compressed gas cylinders and trash that were intertwined with the mangrove vegetation. One thing we could not bear to leave behind were a bunch of tyres we had observed during the recce. Just as we were relaxing after the cleanup, a chain-gang was initiated and 39 tyres were removed, which weighed an estimated 744kg (they must have weighed much more!) This would help reduce mosquito-dwelling freshwater at the site.
The decision to tackle Pandan Mangrove was made only two week earlier – however, last minute requests for trash disposal was met with very kindly by National Environment Agency and Sembenviro who sent a truck to collect the more than 100 bags of trash and the many bulky items left behind at that quiet bus stop along Jalan Buroh!
West Zone Coordinator,
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore