Pulau Lalang: Marine ecology for dummies

By Vicky David

It was a cold Friday morning and I had to rise at 5am to prepare for the much awaited Pulau Lalang trip (August 17-19. 2001). The Pulau Lalang trip was organised by members of the MNS marine group, which was intended for people who are literally ignorant about the marine life. Pulau Lalang is situated among the Pulau Sembilan isles off the coast of Perak. Well, since this is my first camping trip to an island I was pretty much excited.

We met at the scheduled location and hit the road at about 7:30am. It was a three hour drive to Bagan Datuk jetty. There were five of us in the car: Othman, Tan, Jackie, Jean and me. When we reached Bagan Datuk we boarded a fishing boat and headed towards Pulau Lalang. The journey which took two and a half hours was shared by some sea gulls. When we reached the island the organising committee was ready to receive us. We unpacked and had a sumptuous meal of pasta and macaroni. Compliments to chef Mr. Heah who prepared the meal effortlessly. Soon afterwards, we had an ice-breaking session and introduction to marine life by Angie. Later, we had a chance to snorkel around. We shared the island with five piglets and some white-breasted sea eagles.

Camping on this island was like dwelling in another world. The dust, the city streets and noise lay behind; a cool constantly moving surface of blues and greens stretched ahead. The smell and feel of the salt air was invigorating. As we walked along the beach we came across some chiton clinging to rocks. During the low tide, we spotted some vibrant coloured sea anemones and a lot of sea cucumbers.

It was very sad indeed to see the once alive shores now literally empty except for some styrofoam containers, plastics and rubbish. The delicate sea creatures cannot  survive in the harsh environment that we men have created. It is our responsibility to save what is left of our nature for the benefits of future generation…this trip was an eye-opener and I have decided to do my part to save the environment and educate others on conservation issues. Thank you to the organising committee for giving us a chance to learn about marine life.