“Biodiversity in Singapore and the threat of marine trash,” by N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman,
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Singapore Command and Staff College, SAFTI MI
Friday, 16th May 2008: 5.30pm.
About the talk: Singapore is still host to patches of coastal and marine ecosystems which are home to otters, dugongs, sea stars, octopus, dolphins, hundreds of species of fish, sea snakes, turtles and even the odd croc or two! Creatures new to science are still being discovered today and naturalists are regularly delighted by encounters with a variety of creatures. A supportive public is increasingly engaged and hear about the visitors who are still excited about Chek Jawa today.
A barrage of pressures threaten all of this – development, poaching and environmental accidents, and this is on-going. This talk examines an uncommon element – marine trash. Plastics are so impactful in the world’s oceans today that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced (2004), “Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year”.
For 17 years now, volunteers with the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore have removed up to 11 tonnes of trash annually in just 90 mins. The day’s categorisation of trash contributes to a global snapshot of the curseof our oceans. In Singapore, almost 90% of this is plastic with almost two-thirds originates from land. Abandoned nets amplify the impact by entangling and killing birds, snakes, crabs, horseshoe crabs and fish. In separate exercises, volunteers often remove 100 or more endangered horseshoe crabs from “ghost nets” in our mangroves.
We’ve had bright moments – after a decade of cleanups at the Buloh-Kranji mangroves, seedlings are now growing where plastic once choked the shores. More than 3,000 individuals from over 40 organisations have taken to year-round cleanups, and without invitation too! The global and local data has triggered further action by the media, groups, organisations and institutes.
About the speaker: N. Sivasothi, a.k.a. ‘Otterman’ is an instructor at National University of Singapore. The mangroves have been the backdrop to his research, education and conservation activities with the habitat, crabs and otters from the late 1980′s. He coordinated his first mangrove cleanup in 1997 and never stopped. The ICCS Otters, a team of volunteers, have emerged from the cleanups to assist in this continually growing programme.