Coral identification workshop

By Khatijah Abdullah

The first ever coral workshop was organised by Marine SIG on 5th January 2008 at the Auditorium, MNS HQ. Announced in early December, the 15 places allocated for the workshop was fully booked within two weeks. Due to the overwhelming response, we had to turn down many members who had requested to attend the session. We will be organising a similar workshop again in the later part of the year and priority will be given to those who have yet to attend this very informative workshop.

The facilitator was none other than our own renowned marine biologist Affendi Yang Amri from University of Malaya. Affendi is known for his work involving corals, dugong and marine issues. As an avid diver and lecturer, he was more than happy to share his knowledge on the basics of how to identify corals.

This workshop was more for snorkellers and divers who weren’t sure of the marine organisms that they have seen on their trips. Rather than just being awed by the beauty of these organisms, it would be wise to know a little bit about what they are.

Affendi was assisted by a student and another local scientist, Jillian Ooi, who recently gave a talk on seagrass meadows at the MNS Auditorium. He also brought along samples of coral skeletons, which he had collected over the years to aid his research at the university.

Affendi started off by giving a short presentation on the basics – types of corals, their habitat and threats to their survival. He also showed some of the images he took on his underwater trips.

Once the participants had an idea of what to look out for, the session went on to the practical part of how to identify coral. Keys and methods of identifying corals were also used. Through the help of a magnifying lens, each coral skeleton sample was scrutinised and their characteristics noted down. This data was entered into the computer programme step by step, and gradually, we narrowed down the field to determine the order, genus and species, if possible.

It was clearly a very informative session for all and the participants looked forward to identifying the corals on their next snorkelling/diving trip.

After the workshop, the participants were shown a slide presentation of the 24-25 November 2007 seahorse volunteer trip to the Sg. Pulai Estuary, Pontian, Johor.