Documenting the living reefs of Tekek

Story by Serina Rahman

It’s been said that the best diving is to be had just before the tail end of the monsoon. That’s when visibility is at its greatest and marine life is out and about. And that’s when we hit Pulau Tioman to document Kampung Tekek’s house reef (February 25-27, 2005)

Some parties claim that the house reef is dead (and so there’s nothing to lose if we reclaim land to extend the beach and build a marina over it). But that is so not true.

Coral growth is phenomenal on Tekek Beach. There are fields of Acropora, huge boulder and table corals flourish and the corals are healthy and growing. At times, the corals look like they’re fighting for space. They’re stacked up 5m deep in some parts – almost clamouring for sunlight. And it’s not just empty fields of coral like at some other offshore dive sites. This reef is inhabited and by so many species.

There are giant clams everywhere – anemones exist every other metre and each one is inhabited by the perennial anemonefish and family. The typical inhabitants of any healthy reef are evident here: damsels, parrotfish, wrasse, butterflyfish, huge schools of cardinalfish and there are the gems – razorfish, reef cuttlefish, blue-spotted sting rays, moray and snake eels – the list just will not end.

Night dives brought out a whole different community of crustaceans and K.L. Kwang might’ve even discovered a new species (he’s verifying his photographs as we speak!). Coral reefs turned into coral condominiums and in every nook and cranny the eye-shine of a nocturnal creature looked back at you.

We always surfaced happy and triumphant from every dive but how long will we have these reefs to enjoy?