Oct 29, 2007

Large debris on Labrador explained?

For more than a year, we've been seeing these large objects on Labrador.
Comprising large plastic tubing and what looks like tough sheeting very roughly put together with cable ties.Each structure covered an area of about 2mx2m. And there were several of them.

Later, we were given to understand that the objects were part of some sort of experiment conducted on Labrador. So we left them alone.

Labrador is our last mainland reef, and among the last patches of good seagrasses accessible to the public. It is also rather narrow. It was thus really heart-breaking to see the shore being affected by such large structures.
The photos above were taken in May 06.

We continued to see the objects as time went by. And it appeared that the structures were abandoned. Because they started to disintegrate and were not anchored down or repaired.

The photos below were taken in Dec 06.
The large structures were covered with seaweed and starting to break apart.
The broken pieces move to and fro in the waves all across the rich Labrador shore.
Crushing seagrasses and corals.The parts looked very strange. The pipes were heavy as some appeared to contain concrete.
The photos below were taken in Mar 07. The pieces were STILL there. Fragmenting but still moving back and forth, affecting marine life on the shore.
You can see how large the poles are compared to the people in the background.

In Aug 07, the pieces were STILL there, floating up and down with the tide.
See the triangular piece in the bottom lower corner?

Today, there was an article "Undersea garden takes root" Straits Times 29 Oct 07, about a Singapore Poly team's effort to create a "marine site off Labrador for corals to regrow", "led by Captain Frederick Francis, a lecturer from its Singapore Maritime Academy. His team of 68 staff, students, volunteers and divers began its work in August last year with $145,000."

diagrams of the equipment used in this project looks very familiar ...

The construction details described in the article are very similar to abandoned debris we have been seeing on Labrador for more than a year.

Does this explain the large debris we have been seeing for more than a year?

Post script
Chay Hoon found this link on the FINS forum of a similar project done in 2005 in Pulau Tenggol with links to photos of similar debris. Here's one of the photos, taken from Charlie Lee's Public Gallery.

Jeff's comments on the entry "The debris you show in your pictures look like it is the result of a poorly thought out project that has failed to take maintenace into account. PVC piping is a poor substitute to concrete, or even aluminium rods and should not have been used in the first place, despite it being light and easy to handle underwater (compared to the other two materials)."

A lively discussion started on the issue on the sgscuba forum (registration required) and clubsnap forum

Discuss this also on the nature-singapore list and FINS forum

Hai-ren submitted the post to tomorrow.sg

This issue also featured on these blogs
The Ashira blog
Project Powerplant blog
Deadpoet's Cave blog
The Singapore Daily: 31 Oct 07


sgbeachbum said...

These debris are a real eyesore and I didn't realise that the constant movements caused by the waves would damage the shoreline even further. Ironic that they were supposed to help promote the shoreline and reef. The design is clearly unsuitable for the intended application and needs a serious re-think before more damage is done (and money spent).

Slow said...

Sigh. Typical of government projects - looks good in print but not practical because of bad design and failure to take into account maintenance.

ZengRonG said...

This project has been publicised for quite a few years already and everyting i visit labrador , i thoutght it was still doing good .

Think , ir will be good to let those at the top who are supporting it see the real picture of it and get the team doing it to verify your findings.This cannot be left uncheck. These places once destoryed will not simply regrow.


Aurora said...

It will be good if the press is kind enough to print the above eyesore photos now since they had just printed the "beautiful side" of the "great" undersea project.

sgbeachbum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sgbeachbum said...

In the meantime, SP/MPA/NParks should put an IMMEDIATE HOLD on the project and no further action(except remedial action) taken until the issues are sorted out.

Gerard said...

Hey, why not post on STOMP
sure catch the ST viewers eyes one, ppl there like to talk alot, sure create a big fuss.

DK said...

Citizen journalism at its best. Brilliant research and article. :)

Ivan said...

I submitted this to Tomorrow.sg, and it got accepted. =)

Let's get the word out, and see if we can rectify the damage.

chewy910 said...

Singapore's latest reef haven't

A Garden -
  not for humans but for sea life...
A nemo fish swims -
  it's its haven-alike...
A friend of mine
  nature and coral reef lover
So I thot
  have found something he likes
Showed him his likes
  it is reported in paper - someone has led your delight -
  I swang the paper at him ....
  he Google-d search

  when he saw the visual sight at this website
  So different from the graphics in print side-by-side...
  he swang the paper back at me...

Me - not a nature's lover yet..
  was also saddened by the sight in this website ...

Faith in the Paper
  ignited into ashes

Is reef haven

  or reef haven't ?

Can a nemo fish swim in reef haven't ?
  it's supposedly its paradise-alike ?

My mind paralyzes alike ..
  sight truth and seacil truth-alike ?....

Ria Tan said...

Thank you everyone for all the thoughtful comments. I am touched that so many also share a deep concern for this issue.

And the poem is amazing Chewy!

On the same day that I posted this entry I sent an email to Singapore Poly to ask two questions:

(a) Are the equipment depicted in my photos related to any projects by Singapore Polytechnic?

(b) What steps have been put in place to ensure that Cpt Francis' project as outlined in the ST article does not result in damage to Labrador?

I have received an acknowledgement of the email. I'll post the response to the blog.

We can only hope that awareness will result in greater sensitivity towards working on our already very stressed shores.

.::: .: :.:. :.: ... ::: :. .::. .: :. ::. said...

thanks for the great citizen-journalism! renewed my faith in local blogs.

Unknown said...

This is horrible. How could they just abandon those thing like that and let them destroy what little is there left on Labrador. Was NParks informed about this?

lekowala said...

Wah, shouldn't they have monitored their project? Anyway, those are good photos you took with good perspective so we can see what you mean.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing. A pity that there wasn't more responsibility shown towards what was probably, and ironically, a conservation project. Not pointing fingers but I'm curious as to why you didn't remove the structures to prevent them from doing further damage, when it was evident that they were disintegrating and had probably been abandoned?

sgbeachbum said...

Hi Midori, the small pieces are easy enough to cart away but the bigger ones are heavy(i've tried). There are some pieces behind the pier walkway. Look into the bushes behind the walkway. There is lots of stuff there (including a burnt out cooler box tossed from some passing ship and which floated in). The area behind the walkway seems like a dumping point. And the area near where the wall of steel stands is just... indescribable. That needs a major cleanup! Our Reserves deserve better.

Ria Tan said...

Midori and beachbum, you speak for my heart.

When I first saw the large assembly in May 06 I did ask about it and was told it was an experiment. It broke my heart to leave it as it was.

When I saw the assembly clearly falling apart in Dec 06, I again raised the issue. I was given the understanding that it would be taken care of.

By Mar 07, the entire thing collapsed into large fragments. It was just not possible for the few of us who were there to drag everything out.

The pieces were large, and some were very heavy. And after several months, many had settled well into the habitat. Removing them at that point might cause even more disturbance.

The photo in Aug 07 was 'accidentally' taken. It appeared in the background of something else that I was taking.

There's just too much junk, as beachbum mentioned.

Alas, this is true of almost all our shores. It's a never ending task to clean our shores.

There are volunteers like International Coastal Cleanup Singapore who focus on cleaning up our shores and gathering data about marine debris.

But even with their valiant efforts, it's almost impossible to keep up with the constant inflow.

Yes, I do deeply regret that I did not remove the stuff earlier.

It was only after I saw the ST article diagrams that I realised what the assembly might have been.

The only thing I can do now is to try to prevent a repeat of what we saw.

Lesson learnt. In future, I should be more forthright on such issues at an earlier stage.

To update everyone, Singapore Poly Corp Comms has suggested a face-to-face meeting during which an explanation will be given.

I said I would only attend if I was NOT required to agree to non-disclosure.

Because I think everyone deserves to hear the explanation.

I'm awaiting to hear about the terms of the meeting. There's a possibility that it might be held next week.

Meanwhile, this Sunday, I'll be trying to head down to the shore at about 6pm (lowest tide) to have a look at the current situation.

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