Malaysia Ocean Heroes are dedicated to preserving the Oceans
Across Malaysia there are many dive resorts running marine conservation projects, protecting, conserving, and advocating for the country’s biodiverse marine environment that divers love so much.
Like many places in the world, Malaysian resorts are battling plastic pollution, overfishing and the degradation of coral reefs. So, it’s wonderful to see so many programs addressing these problems in Malaysia.
Tanjong Jara Resort, Terangganu
The Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara Resort, supported by YTL Hotels Tanjong Jara Resort was founded in 2016, to help ensure that the new generations of turtles make it out to sea. Guests of the resort can join at the hatchery for interactive, educational programmes and, if fortunate, witness a release of hatchlings.
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara Resort has also organised beach clean ups with help from local schools and community along the 3.2km stretch of coastline fronting Tanjong Jara Resort. Volunteers can join organisers at their other project site — based on Lang Tengah Island — to guard turtle nests and protect them from poachers. Volunteers pay around US$240 per week to participate, which covers accommodation, food, project training and a few other leisure activities. langtengahturtlewatch.orgtanjongjararesort.com
Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Gaya Island Resort has a marine biologist and a naturalist onsite, who are both working tirelessly to ensure the conservation of local wildlife in and around the resort, working in conjunction with the Sabah Wildlife Department. The resort has developed a program to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles back into the ocean, providing turtles with a safe environment to recover and be treated by the founder and executive director of the non-profit Marine Research Foundation, Nicholas Pilcher.
The marine centre’s coral nursery was created in conjunction with Reef Check Malaysia to rehabilitate and safeguard the reef in the Marine Park that surrounds Gaya Island. The team collects broken or non-viable coral fragments, attaches them to coral blocks or artificial reef structures and takes them to the nursery where they can be monitored as they recover and grow. Once the coral has recovered, the team replant them in the Marine Park to assimilate with the healthy coral. gayaislandresort.com
Scuba Junkie Dive Resort, Mabul Island and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Scuba Junkie has two eco-resorts in Malaysia, in Kota Kinabalu and on Mabul Island, with three more in Indonesia. These all provide funding for the company’s dedicated conservation arm: Scuba Junkie SEAS.
Scuba Junkie SEAS has set up many projects in Sabah, including turtle & shark conservation, coral reef restoration, projects tackling marine debris, community outreach and education, and the resort itself is built sustainably to be as eco-friendly as possible. The organisation’s work is divided into six major programs: eco-resort, shark conservation, turtle conservation, coral conservation, marine debris and outreach activities.
On Mabul Island, the resort runs Mabul Turtle Hatchery, which since 2011 has released over 17,000 hatchlings, and Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, which cares for injured turtles in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and since 2015 has successfully re-released 15 turtles after recovering from various injuries and illness.
The resort also provides waste management for the stateless Bajau Laut (sea gypsy) community next door and pays a reward for the discovery of a turtle nest so that it can be re-located to the safety of their hatchery. scubajunkieseas.org
Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC): Pom Pom Island, Sabah
TRACC has several ongoing marine conservation projects that help coral reefs recover from human impacts including plastic pollution and blast fishing, that divers are invited to contribute to. The organisation also has programs that address invasive Crown of Thorn Sea stars, as well as monitoring turtle populations and protecting turtle nests from poachers.
The main challenge to coral growth on Pom Pom Island is the coral rubble left behind by blast fishing, which baby corals have difficulty attaching themselves to, so the project’s aim to stabilise the slope, build new reef as well as grow new coral. The sloping rubble is stabilised with soft coral nets, which slows the rubble movement and which the turtles do not destroy. They then plant soft corals and sponges on the nets to hold the rubble together. tracc.org
Malaysia’s Marine Conservation Organisations
As well as the good work done by Malaysia’s dive resorts, there are several NGOs and government-funded organisations helping to conserve the country’s marine environment.
Reef Guardian is a non-profit company appointed by the State Government of Sabah to manage Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA). Reefguardian.com.my
Kudat Turtle Conservation Society is working to conserve and improve Kudat (Sabah) turtle populations through public education and awareness programs. ktcsborneo.wixsite.com/ktcsborneo
The Marine Research Foundation is a research and conservation organisation based in Sabah established to improve understanding of marine ecosystems and their associated diverse flora and fauna, managing several projects researching coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, turtles, dugongs, sharks, and rays. mrf-asia.org
Reef Check Malaysia is working towards sustainable management of coral reefs in Malaysia. We bring together stakeholders to collaborate on coral reef monitoring, management, research and conservation, and advocacy. Reefcheck.org.my
Ocean Quest. Founded in Malaysia in 2010 by Anuar Abdullah, Ocean Quest Global is an environmental organisation at work in seven countries through Southeast Asia focussing on coral restoration. With support from Sea Shepherd, Ocean Quest runs workshops and training courses in Kuala Lumpur, Pulau Gelok and Pulau Tioman. oceanquest.global
Feature Photo Credit: Lang Tengah Turtle Watch