Story by Serina Rahman
Photos by Effendy Rahaman
As is our annual tradition, the Marine Group went back to Pulau Redang to conduct reef check surveys on a number of its reefs (May 26-29, 2005). Generously subsidised by Coral Redang Island Resort, this trip’s participants were happy to enjoy the comfort and good food of the resort between dives… luxuries we don’t normally get to enjoy on our MNS working trips!
The team was happy to welcome aboard new volunteers this year and part of the trip was devoted to hands-on training sessions for the newbies to try out their reef check skills – while maintaining absolutely perfect buoyancy of course!
By the second day, reef check work was seriously underway – and while our initial plan to survey Mak Chantek was foiled by the currents, the team managed to carry out a few more surveys on other reefs.
Braving long walks across the beach with our tanks and other gear on our backs, we noted (with some despair) that several house reefs have suffered increased degradation, possibly due to untreated waste or sewage run-off from nearby resorts. In some areas, the only substrate species recorded were nutrient-indicator algae, and indicator fish and invertebrate species were hard to come by.
One species that seemed to enjoy following us around was the ever-aggressive titan triggerfish. This fella and his brothers made what might have been otherwise monotonous reef check dives decidedly more exciting as we either had to warily avoid them or fin ‘calmly’ (with our hearts pounding in our heads) away.
In spite of all the excitement, good work was done and a happy discovery was a new reef check and dive site further away from resort development. The reef at this spot was almost pristine, visibility was close to 40m and it was an incredibly beautiful dive. This is how all of Redang’s reefs must have been like 20-30 years ago, before rampant development and diver damage.
This year’s trip to Redang left us with mixed feelings. While it was a pleasant surprise to find new and healthy areas, the state of degradation of reefs closer to shore is disturbing.
Even more worrying is the sight of new construction and development on Pasir Panjang beach. While it might be the birth of another positive, environmentally aware and active resort (like Coral Redang Island Resort), it could go the other way and this newcomer could just add to the nutrient rich run-off already damaging the house reefs today.
The MNS Marine Group will go back to Pulau Redang in October and we hope to return with more good news than bad. Check this website for more information on this upcoming trip or to find out how to volunteer with us. Many thanks to everyone who took part!