Something amazing happened on the 12th of August 2017. A group of staff, everyday common staff, just like you and me (maybe some of us), has come together for an initiative. Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine came up with initiatives for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and one of the projects was mangrove cleanup. Now, take into account that most of these staffs are office workers who find comfort within their working environment, a.k.a laboratories, offices or hospital setups. That is significantly different from going out and tread on the mud along the coastline. So, for this, it is worth applauding of the courage these participants had in trying something new and meaningful.
Thanks to ICCS (International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore), who has been actively cleaning the coastline while the rest of us enjoy peaceful, serene environment, most of the procedure and setup was made a whole lot easier and standardized. Our location on that day was Lim Chu Kang area. Participants gathered in the morning before departing and of course, we took group photos. There were drizzles earlier that morning but we decided to try our luck…
For many of us, this would be the rare occassion where we set foot on somewhere so near the edge of the country, able to see Johor from where we stood.
However, overall, many were excited to be greeted by small creatures crawling around on the mud. When we took a closer look, then we realized they were small mangrove-dwelling crabs. There were networks of mangrove trees with their pneumatophores jutting out of mud, gasping for air. Long seed pods from mangrove trees could be seen left behind by the tides. The shape of the pod enable them to plant themselves among the soft ground and start growing once the condition is favourable. Sprouting coconuts was also one of the main sight as they are halfway on their journey to find their new home as well…
The operation went on smoothly as the participants were divided into groups and each assigned a designated area to clean up. The members were very enthusiastic and equally shocked by the amount of trash hidden in plain sight. There were a lot of plastic bags, layered beneath the mud. Fishing nets and ropes could be seen tangling the root networks. Due to the forever cycle of tides coming in and out, the trash layers were continuously covered by mud after each tide. Hence, there were some trash that were so deep that it was quite challenging to remove them. It is easy to throw a plastic bag away, it takes so much manpower just to remove one – and that hasn’t take into account the amount of effort needed to properly dispose of it. Please reduce the use of plastic bags!
Not all things are shiny and happy. We did encounter dead creatures and one was this poor horseshoe crab. These living fossils are amazing reminder of what we do now will impact generations after us. Clean and healthy environment is important for the health of biodiversity.
The cleanup activity this time was not big scale, but it was a good start for the participants and organizers alike. Let’s hope this experience create awareness among us on the importance of our daily habits and effort in creating a harmonious world – not just amongst humans. The activity ended with a success of quite a substantial amount of trash cleared and many new friendship forged. And most importantly, an opportunity for a group of people to be closer to nature and understand the intimacy between us and the environment which silently provide to us.