Tag Archives: iccs

Toddycats @ Pesta Ubin 2016 (Part I): A Celebration of Singapore’s Marine Biodiversity and a plea to Reduce our Plastic Footprint

As in previous years, we’ve come together and contributed to a couple of events for the Pesta Ubin 2016 calendar!

This year Ubin Day has morphed from one weekend of short-lived fun into a month-long festival from 14 May to 12 June (Pesta means Festival in Malay). It was designed to celebrate Ubin’s kampong lifestyle, the Ubin Way, and its value as a nature refuge and to offer the public a glimpse of our past heritage.

Despite the rain, the booths from various local NGOs received a strong showing from the public. About 3000 visitors came to soak in the festive mood by participating in the myriad of events and informative booths. The celebratory atmosphere was buoyed by kampong games such as capteh and hopscotch. Activities such as cycling, kayaking and coastal clean-ups were made available too.

It was a delight to educate and raise awareness of the importance of conserving our local marine biodiversity in Singapore. Ten specimens on loan from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum were chosen to highlight some examples of marine life found on our shores and the disastrous after-effects of littering, boat crashes, illegal fishing and the importance of conserving our local biodiversity.

Our specimens from LKCNHM included a baby dugong, a dog-faced water snake, a giant mudskipper, an Asian small-clawed otter, shells from various local marine clams and snails, a black-tipped reef shark, a tree-climbing crab, a hawksbill turtle and seahorses. Pictures of our sperm whale, Jubilee, were also on display to highlight the imminent threat that plastics can have on sea creatures, even on large ones like whales. Our local marine biodiversity too is not immune to this global crisis of plastic waste.

There are four ways in which marine life is impacted by plastic littering:  strangulation of animals from entanglement, ingestion of plastics when animals mistake it for food, bioaccumulation when young fish or crustaceans eat micro-plastics (microbeads found in face-wash products) and the leakage of toxic pollutants into the ocean as plastics slowly degrade.

Minister for National Development, Mr Lawrence Wong, and Senior Minister of State, Mr Desmond Lee, graced the event as our guests of honour. Mr Wong announced that by mid 2017, the National Parks Board (NParks) would take on the role of central management agency and be in sole charge of managing Ubin.

In his speech, Mr Wong also highlighted several books launched in celebration of Ubin such as “Footprints on an Island: Rediscovering Pulau Ubin” by Chua Ee Kiam, Choo Mui Eng and Wong Tuan Wah and “Hunt for the Green Boomerang” by Neil Humphreys.

Apart from the humans, other living creatures such as the oriental-pied hornbills and green imperial pigeons were also in attendance during the event. Their presence further illustrates that Ubin continues to be a birdwatcher’s paradise and an important refuge for threatened species. Even Ubin’s friendly resident stray dogs came to pay a visit and provided great company.

The children had their fair share of activities to take part in and be excited about as well! We organised a badge-making session which kept the children thoroughly entertained in creating their very own badges, giving them a colourful experience and a sense of pride in putting their creativity to good use.

To conclude, Pesta Ubin was a celebration of all things nature and our kampong roots. If our heritage in Pulau Ubin is lost, we would not only lose our window into the past, but something more significant – our identity with nature. Our local biodiversity may be resilient but if we are not mindful to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our environment, we may stand to lose much of our precious Earth.

For more pictures, view our Flickr album!



Join NUS Toddycats at Ubin Day 2015 – Pedal Ubin and the ICCS, Palm Civet and Otter booths!

Once again, Ubinday2015NUS Toddycats are part of Ubin Day 2015! This very special Open House event is conducted by people and groups who love Ubin. We come together to organise special events for the public to celebrate Pulau Ubin on Sat 13 June & Sun 14 Jun 2015.

Toddycats will offer Pedal Ubin, as we did in 2014 – this exploration of Pulau Ubin on bicycle includes visits to Ubin Quarry, Ketam Beach and the German Girl Shrine.

We also join other groups at the bazaar in the main tent on 13 & 14 Jun 2015 – International Coastal Cleanup Singapore will engage visitors about marine life in Singapore and the hurtful impact of marine trash. The Common Palm Civet and Otter Watch groups will introduce the public to native mammals which we are lucky to have live amongst us still in Pulau Ubin and Singapore.

You can join us to help out in the Toddycats Pedal Ubin programme or as an Exhibition Guide to talk about marine life, civets and otters. Just sign up here: tinyurl.com/toddycats-ubinday2015. A training workshop will be conducted on Sat 06 Jun 2015..

Another Junglefowl, Joelle, talking about Ubin Quarry.

Pedal Ubin guide Joelle Lai, introduces the Ubin Quarry at Ubin Day 2014.

Public engagement by various groups at the main tent on Ubin Day 2014.

Toddycats clear 223kg of trash at ICCS Berlayar Creek Mangrove!

29 September 2012 – Raffles Museum Toddycats! were joined by three Keppel Club staff for the International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore at Berlayar Creek mangroves. Raffles Museum Toddycats were deployed here for the first time after four years at Pandan mangrove from the first cleanup in 2008.

Armed with trash bags, booties and data cards, 18 of us responded to our mission and spent an intensive 90 minutes removing marine debris of all sorts from the delicate mangrove site. Given the fragile environment of Berlayar Creek, we had to be extremely meticulous when manoeuvring through the aerial roots of the mangroves which is why ICCS Coordinator Sivasothi had entrusted this site to Toddycats.

Moving around the mud was a challenge for first-timers, as one of the volunteers experienced getting both her feet stuck in the mud. Fortunately, after several attempts and help from other volunteers, she was finally free.

Toddycats hard at work!

It was an hour of hard work picking and cataloguing marine debris before we proceeded to move all the trash (including the bulky items) up the steep slopes and to the weighing point. The trash were then weighed for an indication of the marine debris load present at the site. After weighing was completed, all the trash was despatched to the Trash Disposal Point for pickup later.

First timers or no, this could be challenging as the TDP was a distance away, but all the volunteers put in their best effort and cleared a total of 23 bags of trash weighing 223kg (excluding many bulky items)!

The typical trash encountered during our cleanup included 130 plastic bags, 104 broken glass bottles, 56 food wrappers, containers, ropes and fishing lines. Other more unusual finds were tyres, lipsticks and numerous golf balls! A detailed breakdown of the marine debris we cleared is available online at the ICCS Results page.

Toddycats clearing bulky marine debris!

Toddycat Randolph Quek removing several entangled gill nets

During the cleanup, the intertidal wildlife present motivated us to remove harmful, non-biodegradable trash from their habitat. We were also heartened by the appreciation of the people visiting the area. Members of public approached us with questions and thanked us for our contributions to the environment

Even the little mangrove inhabitants seem to be grateful for our efforts!

We were glad to do our bit for the environment and inadvertently help raise public awareness about the problem of marine trash!

If you would like to contribute more, there are also a series of year-round cleanups being coordinated. To find out more, check out the ICCS website and blog.

223kg of marine debris cleared from Berlayar Creek mangroves!

Thank all volunteers for their hard work in ensuring the success of Raffles Museum Toddycats’ ICCS 2012 Berlayar Creek mangrove cleanup! Enjoy photos from this event on the ICCS Flickr page.

We look forward to your participation at ICCS 2013!

Well done Toddycats!

It’s September – the International Coastal Cleanup is here!

What have a core group in Raffles Museum Toddycats been busy with these past few months?

ICCS Otters Mtg 4

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

ICCS Otters are a team within the Raffles Museum Toddycats who coordinate the annual International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore. Held in September annually, this event involves some 4,000 participants from 40-60 schools and organisations who collect, categorise and remove marine trash on our shores. The team, which comprises several veterans, begin work in February and end in October, organised around five formal meetings with lots of field trips, emails and phone conversations in between.

Examples of Toddycats in action in their dual roles in
public guiding and coastal cleanups


Marcus Tay is a veteran volunteer for Raffles Museum Toddycats! and International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. He has completed various exhibitions specimen guiding sessions and is the 2012 ICCS zone captain of Pulau Ubin.


Yang Yi Yong joined Toddycats & ICCS recently. He is currently Deputy Zone Captain for North East and also engaged the public at various Toddycats exhibitions including Festival of Biodiversity.

It is now August and the team has finished the preliminary recces, the registration, the ICCS Organiser’s Workshop, just finished the ICCS Site Buddies Briefing and are in “Phase IV: Execution”. We are finishing up Site Recces with Organisers and soon, it will be September and show time!

In 2008, Raffles Museum Toddycats added one more role to the coastal cleanup contributions by sending a team to initiate the Pandan Mangrove cleanup as an Organiser. Staff and students of the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore were roped in to tackle what was then a Category 5 site. We have been at Pandan Mangrove for four years now, clearing and documenting the marine trash there with others and the site is looking much better!

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This year, Toddycats have been tasked with setting up a new site at Berlayar Creek in Labrador Park. Our mission at the cleanup is to work with a small group of 20 and conduct a sensitive mangrove cleanup on 29 Sep 2012: 3.00 – 6.00pm. We will take great care to minimise impact while we are at work there!

Look out of the recruitment post next week and join us for a meaningful event in the month of September!