From the diary of Judy Tan

Story by Judy Tan
Photos by mnsmarine

Organised by marine group volunteers Hon Yuen, Siew Lyn, Kwang and Wee Liem. Supported by 28 adults and 3 children, age ranges from 8 to under 60 years.

What can I say that has not been said during our chit chat time at the Balinese dining and BBQ deck areas of Duta Puri Island Resort at Pulau Kapas?

But to cap it all, I must mention that the trip was very informative, serving its purpose as members are now more aware of the conservation and environment concerns of marine life.

The activities organised included basic snorkeling lessons and introduction of coral reefs including do’s and don’ts of snorkeling. We were able to enjoy careful snorkeling and to view the amazing marine diversity (including fish, reptiles, snails, crustacean, plants and corals etc) without causing damage.

Of course, the evening video presentations on Sabah Marine Park and the Turtle Island Park helped push the concept of environment conservation, protection and preservation of marine life and do-without sharks fin soup given the choice, droned into our brains! Save our sharks was the underlying call by MNS. How clever and sneaky of our highly intelligent coordinators to portray the beautiful marine life form and concluding that WE may be the cause of their future extinction!

But MAN is the cause. Yeh, first we saw the beautiful small moray eel in its natural environment and the next day, we were told that the moray eel was caught by an angler and used as fish bait! Suddenly, we felt sadness, anger and lastly guilt. Questions arose – where were the authorities enforcing the law, Pulau Kapas being a marine park? If one has a choice, would you use moray eel as bait? That a marine life perish in OUR hands because mankind was not aware of protection and conservation…sigh!

But I have this to say to all MNS marine volunteers to keep up the good work as your sacrifice of time and effort are commendable and WE are now more educated and informed of our natural marine environment because of YOU! Kudos to the four excellent coordinators who took us in their stride and impart their skills and knowledge. Besides learning how to snorkel, we now know that fish is just not simply colourful fish…we had to identify, using reference books, that they are colourful parrotfish, blue spotted sting ray, puffer fish, blue damsel and there are anemones, nudibranch (not a nude branch), hard and soft corals and bumphead (not flowerhorn)!! We know there is a symbiotic relationship between the clown fish and the anemones, and the shrimp and goby fish.

lhy_beach1Jungle trekking through mosquito infested paths lined with spiky palms and meeting a venomous green viper (asleep, thank goodness) and the sleazy brown “ular biasa” is another unforgettable experience in our jungle treasure hunt activity. It is definitely not our usual walk through FRIM. After a good hours’ trek, one can hallucinate for a cup of teh tarik amidst the jungle flora and fauna that included the great millipedes, gargantuan spiders, lots of insects and ants, free sizes. A spot of rock abseiling, lowering oneself down into the rocky creek and using all four limbs, where necessary with an egg in your mouth calls for great ingenuity and fitness! Here, this member (read as Ng Boon Bee) deserves the award of the jungle trip.

HYLeong-Kapas-beach_cleanup4Aahh at the end of the jungle trek, if you think you can stop and drink in the wonderful sight of the secluded cove covered by rocks and trees, you are most mistaken. After the monsoon. heaps of man made rubbish washed up on shore. Glass bottles, rusty cans, plastic bags, Styrofoam, oil containers, rubber slipper, PVC water bottles, resin, fishing lines and etc etc etc. Armed with our black plastic bags, we got down to collecting rubbish and accumulated 20 bags in all, stacked together to be picked up by the authorities, we hope!lhy_beach3

It gave us immense satisfaction knowing that we had done our bit in the cleaning of the environment. When the 9-year-old Japanese boy was informed by his mother the reason for cleaning the environment so that turtles do not eat the plastic bags mistaken as jelly fish, he bend down and tackled the task with an objective in mind – save the marine life! Children are so adorable.

lhy_beach2Underwater treasure hunt activity had all the members running to the sea with their clumsy fins (reminded me of the baby turtles waddling into the sea by instinct) for a stake on the identification of the “trophies” buried in the sea. Of course, the sight impaired members were calling for assistance from the coordinators from all corners to dive below and read the laminated A4 size typewritten “trophy”. “Where? HereÖhere I saw itÖit must be there!” Yeh..the coordinators were not born yesterday you know!

By night, we had quizzes and a no meaning song and dance routine that had us all wide eyed and exhilarated for good things to come. Sure, we had to act like a spouting whale, swim as a sting ray, walk like a horseshoe crab, behave like an aggravated puffer fish, jellyfish, sea anemone, nudibranch, etc to entertain the coordinators in the game known as charades.

The highlight of the trip must be seeing the beautiful graceful white bellied sea eagles and a flock of a hundred cattle egrets and little egrets in a wet marshland while touring the kampung near Kuala Terengganu during our half day cultural package tour that included batik printing, copper making, shopping for keropok, eating nasi dagang (sticky rice with fish tuna) and lekor (local fish paste sausage) and shopping for pareos, sarungs and souvenirs.

In conclusion, lest my transcript becomes a short novel, I pen here with a note to allÖ
Today is Mine” by Tommy Emmanuel, guitarist.

The above transcript is the property of Judy Tan and shall not be duplicated or copied in any way without the authorised approval of the abovenamed. Anybody found infringing the rights of the writer will be sentenced to hard labour collecting rubbish at Pulau Kapas for 5 days !!