21
June
2018
|
09:00
Europe/Amsterdam

Diving for debris

Divers sorting the trash collected

Our Singapore Reefs, co-founded by Dr Toh Tai Chong, Lecturer, College of Alice & Peter Tan at NUS and Ms Sam Shu Qin, Research Assistant, Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) at NUS, conducted two dives on 10 June at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park to create a cleaner home for sea life, bagging close to 500 items weighing 126kg.

A total of 18 divers participated in the marine clean-up, which celebrated World Oceans Day 2018 and was held in conjunction with the International Year of the Reef. The divers included Dr Toh and Ms Sam, as well as TMSI Research Assistants Ms Sim Wan Ting, Mr Tan Yee Keat and Ms Lynette Ying. Some of the items collected during this year’s dives included tyres, boat batteries, acrylic sheets and an anchor.

Ms Sim, who was participating in a clean-up dive for the first time, noted that there was “quite a lot of floating plastic trash” in the marine park. “I realised that cleaning up the ocean can be really time consuming. It is more important that we reduce our trash. This will subsequently reduce trash being dumped into the ocean. On our part, we can also pick up any trash we see even when we are doing our leisure dives,” she said.

We felt that it was important to educate the public about how marine debris not only impacts the environment and animals, but also ourselves. We knew there were a lot of like-minded people out there, so we started this community to get people working on the same cause.

Both avid divers in Singapore waters, Dr Toh and Ms Sam decided to establish Our Singapore Reefs in 2017 after seeing much of the coral reefs damaged or entangled in marine debris.

“We felt that it was important to educate the public about how marine debris not only impacts the environment and animals, but also ourselves. We knew there were a lot of like-minded people out there, so we started this community to get people working on the same cause,” said Dr Toh. Ms Sam shared that while the group’s main goal is to combat marine waste, they also hope to increase the appreciation of vast biodiversity present in our home reefs.

To meet their objectives, the group has been collaborating with businesses, organisations and government agencies for clean-up dives and public outreach activities. In the past year, they have engaged more than 100 divers and have removed over 2,800 items weighing more than 600kg from Singapore waters. The generous support from the public and partners was instrumental in ensuring that Singapore’s waters are clean for everyone to enjoy, said Dr Toh. They plan to organise more clean-ups this year — an upcoming dive has been scheduled for 14 July — and also hope to further engage the public through various avenues such as talks and school events.

In conjunction with NUS Day of Service, TMSI welcomes volunteers to join them in a marine clean-up on 1 September. Please click here to participate in the clean-up, as well as to see the full list of activities available.