By Malini Madiyazhagan
Photo by Lim Kar Mern
My seahorse trip to Johor from 2-3 Aug 2008 was a memorable experience shared with 13 others. All had different reasons for joining the trip in the first place. Most of us were curious as to what takes place at a Seahorse Conservation Programme conducted by Save Our Seahorses (SOS), while others were regular volunteers. But all of us shared the same excitement and curiosity when the journey began at the KL Sentral Monorail station on an early Saturday morning.
We arrived in Johor in the mid-afternoon and had a quick bite before beginning the programme for the day – a visit to the Kukup National Park. The ride there was rather eventful as we missed a turn to our destination and as a result, turned up late at the briefing centre. We called it distraction by ‘pasar malam’. Although we missed the briefing, we managed to make it to the guided tour through the national park, which took us on a walk across a suspension bridge placed strategically over the Snake River, a growing anticipation that we would bump into wild boars (which did not materialise, unfortunately, to the dismay of this writer) and a brief educational discourse on mangrove wildlife by the Kukup National Park officer. The day ended with a seafood dinner and the need for a shower and sleep for all concerned.
Sunday started bright and early for us. Sleepy-eyed and slightly sleep-deprived, we headed to the Pendas jetty to catch the boat to the Pulai River Estuary to begin our volunteer duties. When we arrived at the seagrass meadow, we were most stunned by the fact that Malaysia was on our right, and Singapore was on our left, and we were literally walking in the sea in the middle.
We were divided into teams and set off on our hunt for Hippocampus kuda. This writer’s team was very lucky the first time around as one of our members managed to find 2 seahorses (a pair) within a matter of minutes. All in all, our entire group collectively managed to find 5 seahorses and 2 pipefish that day.
The next agenda on the itinerary was a visit to Pulau Merambong, where a clean-up session of the beach was planned, with complimentary rambutans for our efforts to tidy up the beach the best we could. A group photo was called for, and all of us gave our biggest smiles amidst a sea of bin bags that contained, amongst other things, a helmet and a tyre.
Our trip ended with a gathering at Old Town White Coffee for lunch before the lot of us made our respective ways homeward towards the daily routine that awaited us in the week ahead. Without a doubt, the 14 of us certainly did leave Kukup as a time to remember. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us make it back to Kukup for another round of the Seahorse Volunteer Survey at the Pulai River Estuary and the wonders beneath the water’s surface.