The Nature Society Singapore led the participation at the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) at the Mandai Mudflats and we took the opportunity to join them for an afternoon of fun and to do some good for our coastal creatures and environment at the same time.
As we approached the our starting point, we were greated by a dozen bright orange lifeboats lining the road to the mudflats. It’s not really a common sight for us so we got a little trigger happy as we walked by. I was surprised to find out that these enclosed lifeboats could carry up to 50 persons.
We got there just as the tide was going down and to mark our attendance with the friendly organisers at the scene. Here are some shots from the shoreline as we waited for the rest of the volunteers to trickle in. The tall buildings in the background line the shores of Malaysia.
Pneumatophores are erect roots that are some form of upward appendage or extension of the underground root system. Because these roots are exposed at least part of the day and not submerged underwater, the root system can obtain oxygen in an otherwise anaerobic substrate.
All along the shore, you can spot these “molts” left by the juvenile horseshoe crabs who live there for their first year or two. The horseshoe molts several times during its first year and may reach a width of about 1/2″. After its third or fourth year it sheds its skin annually.
Over the past 25 years, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean on just one day each year. They have recorded every item found, giving a clear picture of the manufactured items impacting the health of humans, wildlife, and economies.
Barnacles are found in the more marine conditions of the mangrove, and occur in large numbers. The free-swimming larvae in the water attach themselves head-first to almost any surface (including hard-bodied/shelled animals), glue themselves with a strong cement, form calcareous plates around them and then feed by sticking out feathery legs to catch plankton when the tide rises!
A large fishing net retrieved from the muddy shore – if not removed, these could trap animals such crabs, snakes, birds and fish that die either by getting roasted in the sun during the low tide or by drowning during high tide.
Just as we were packing up for dinner, someone spotted a fishing net with over a hundred horseshoe crabs trapped in it. These animals bear many jointed limbs, and become badly entangled in nets. Equipped with wire cutters, a small group of us pitched in to help unravel and cut away the fine fibres intricately woven among the many joints of arthropods.
We managed to free most, if not all, the live ones and sent them on their way back into the water. It was a fantastic experience for us and educational too as the more senior volunteers taught us how to handle them and tell the males from the females.
Not long after, dusk approached as we packed up our gear and headed back to civilisation for a well deserved buffet dinner and sing-along session under the stars at one of the factories. All-in-all, a very well organised expedition and throughly fulfilling experience. We are looking forward to the next event.