Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a mess


It's been quite a long time since I had the time to drop by Sentosa. However, since I am currently organising a trip to this stretch of natural shore, I decided to drop by Tanjung Rimau for a short while.

The tide was very high today; most of the beach was submerged, and the corals and seagrass beds were definitely hidden from view. It's easy to see how the erosive power of the waves, as they pound against the sheer cliffs. If the tide had risen any higher, it would have been dangerous to go down to the shore. This is why it is so important to keep track of your tide tables, so as not to be caught unaware when out exploring coastal areas. You never know when your retreat may be blocked off by the advancing sea.


My main objective today was to scout the area and see if it was feasible to conduct a cleanup session here. Every time I visit this site, I'm disgusted and appalled at the trash that appears to steadily accumulate on the high shore.

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These photos were taken in May last year.

Today, nearly one and a half years later, nothing seems to have changed.

Look at all the rubbish! And most of it consists of items made from plastics, which are non-biodegradable. Hence it does not decompose or decay, but instead remains in the environment for an extremely long time.

Empty water bottles, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), overwhelmingly dominate the types of trash found at this site. I'm wondering where they come from. Are they washed in from elsewhere on Sentosa? Dumped by passing vessels? Do they drift over from mainland Singapore, only to get deposited here at this corner of Sentosa?

Styrofoam is also very common. This includes disposable cups, plates, food containers, boxes, and random bits and pieces that broke off larger items.

This really is an excellent opportunity for interested groups to get a close look as to how plastic trash really affects our coastal environment. Our popular beaches are cleared of litter every morning by an entire battalion of cleaners. Even so, as the day passes, it is obvious that a lot of trash continues to wash up on the beach. Here's a natural shore that in all likelihood, is almost never cleaned at all.

Even with all the litter and rubbish, it's still a place I remain very fond of, particularly since my journey with the Naked Hermit Crabs started on this very shore.

It seems that the area is still in the midst of a hairy green seaweed bloom.

Lots of seaweed has been washed up, and it appears as if there's a lot more floating about in the water.

I didn't have the time to explore much, but I achieved my objectives. I was unsure whether visiting the shore during high tide was safe, but I managed to determine that enough shore was still exposed for a short visit, as long as one made sure that the tide was not going to rise any further.

Also, I wanted to confirm that enough trash had accumulated, so that a genuinely meaningful cleanup session could be conducted. Most people think of beach cleanups as just going down to East Coast Park or Pasir Ris Park and picking up little bits of litter here and there, often a few hours just after the cleaners have already cleared the bulk of the rubbish. Here was a shore that had a seriously heavy load of trash, and which was rarely or never cleaned at all. Participants in cleanup sessions here would truly understand just how serious the problem of marine trash is, and that their effort really makes a huge difference.

Well, I'll be back again in a few days. Let's see how much we can do.