Fri 16 Dec 2005
Labrador Rocky Shore Cleanup
Category : coastalcleanup
Friday 16 Dec 2005 - The rocky shore at Labrador and the cliff forest that borders its shores are special in Singapore and have been recognised as such. In 2001 we heard the surprising news that Labrador, along with with Sungei Buloh, was to be "legislated as Nature Reserves under the National Parks Act" - a first for the history of independent Singapore.
This evening, the rocky shore welcomed a group of seven volunteers led by Labrador Blog's Leong Wai and some sacks provided by NParks. We managed to clear some 200kg of trash during the low tide. Based on our impressions (we did not categorise or count the data), an estimated 75% of the items picked up was glass, 20% was plastic and some 5% was metal.
Why we came
This situation was different from what we found on sites cleared during the International Coastal Cleanup SIngapore (ICCS). Those are plagued by plastic.
So I suggested that Leong Wai, the Raffles Museum Toddycat in charge of the Labrador Blog, and a Blue Water Volunteer, organise a cleanup there. She and other undergraduate researchers familiar with the area usually have their "hands full with rubbish everytime they come out of the beach," to quote fellow Toddycat, Hwang Danwei. So she responded enthusiastically and started checking tide tables for a suitable date.
Just a few of us
NParks provided the critically important sacks that would withstand the glass shards. Having hauled a few of those heavy glass-laden sacks on my back without injury this evening, I can attest to their effectiveness.
Some glass pieces were clearly 'rocky shore residents', They have experienced the ebbing and flowing tide long enough to be worn smooth. Although the glass we picked up was not encrusted with any marine life, partially intact glass and also plastic and metal bottles were carefully inspected for life-forms and were cleared of marine life before removal. I did leave behind two pieces of hard plastic that had become encrusted with amorphous sponges and well-anchored between rocks.
Things we left behind
Making it safe for kids
Labrador has been an important living classroom that generations of school and university students have used to understand marine biology, physical geography, botany and seashore life. The beach is also visited by families and many still like to feel the sand in their toes - we watched a famiIy do just that even as we hauled out bags clinking with glass. It is easy to forget cautionary advise when the shores look very clean but a piece of glass may be lurking, camouflaged in the sand or rock.
One source of opportunistic help was a Temasek JC biology teacher, Lena Lim. Visiting Labrador in preparation for a rocky shore biology class next year, she worked gamely alongside us, much to our delight! She did manage a sufficient glimpse of the marine life there, including the very fortunate encouter of two octopuses, who had emerged from burrows presumably in anticipation of a night of hunting crabs under a full moon.
The Labrador Rocky shore is delightful, but please wear proper footwear there and whn visiting any intertidal shore, even beaches. And help remove any glass you encounter - every little effort makes a difference!