By Reef Check Malaysia
The monsoon season is officially over and the waters off the Malaysian east coast are now quiet and calm. The jetties however offer a totally different atmosphere. On some days, there are so many people that there is literally no place for you to stand (mostly due to divers bringing a trailer load of equipment that would impress even Jacques Cousteau). Welcome to Malaysia’s dive season!
The start of the dive season also marks the start of Reef Check Malaysia’s (RCM) survey season. Reef Check EcoDivers can participate in the following scheduled surveys:
Perhentian- June 8 to 10
Bidong & Yu- July 20 to 22
Tenggol- August 31 to September 2
Tioman- June 29 to July 1
Pemanggil- August 3 to 5
Not an EcoDiver yet? RCM has a network of dive centers currently offering the EcoDiver training course. Click here for a list of partners.
The 2012 Rainforest to Reef (R2R) program with KPMG and Alstom Power has also kicked off. R2R has 2 main components, a Coral Reef Camp (CRC) and Supporting Activities (SA). The objective of the CRC is to introduce students to the different types of ecosystems, and through exercises, worksheets and games, learn to protect and conserve them. The SA reinforces these lessons and also help teach the children more about their terrestrial environment. They also involve activities like jungle trekking and beach clean-ups.
The first CRC of the year was held with SK Seri Pangkor on Pulau Pangkor. The 3-day camp had a mixture of classroom activities, outdoor games and snorkeling, integrated to provide a holistic experience for the children. With this being the first of such activities conducted for the children, it came as no surprise that they were more enthusiastic about the CRC than usual, leaving camp facilitators completely exhausted by the end of the third day!
Supporting activities have also started in Tioman and Perhentian and city-based schools, SK TTDI (2) and SK Brickfields (1). SK Brickfields (1) is new to the R2R program. The CRC for these schools will follow later on in the year. In all, approximately 300 students will be exposed to the R2R program in 2012.
The RCM reef rehabilitation program has been expanded to include the Perhentian islands. After extensive site reviews, the area in front of Bubbles Dive Resort on Big Island was selected and a total of 1680 coral nubbins were deployed on 60 frames. RCM would like to extend its gratitude to Bubbles Dive Resort for lending their assistance during the collection, nursery population and most importantly, the tedious maintenance process. The survival of the coral nubbins is highly dependent on the removal of silt and algae that could, if left unattended, smother and kill the nubbins. Bubbles Dive Resort will also be inviting their customers to participate in maintenance, so if you are looking to give back to the reefs that have provided you with so much aesthetic pleasure, you know where to go!
RCM’s rehabilitation method involves collecting coral fragments from donor sites and “planting” them in a nursery to allow them to stabilize and grow before finally transplanting them to a permanent site. The key here is to actively maintain the nurseries while the coral transplants are stabilizing, keeping them free of silt and algae. This reduces the mortality rate, resulting in more effective rehabilitation. RCM’s rehabilitation methodology is designed to be low cost, so that it is easy for dive operators and community members to take part.
RCM is also delighted to announce that they have officially commenced operation in East Malaysia. The Sabah office, started in April, will be under the care of Nattelee Lim, a new member to the RCM team after working with WWF Malaysia, focusing on marine education and awareness in the Semporna priority conservation area. She will be overseeing all RCM projects in East Malaysia including EcoDiver training and surveys, education and awareness, and reef rehabilitation.