International Coastal Cleanup Day at Redang

Story by Khor Hui Min
Photo by Saliyaty Dora Md Ramly

I haven’t been to Redang Island since my student days a decade ago. So, I was quite looking forward to a trip to Redang with friends from the Malaysian Nature Society, from 17 Sept to 19 Sept 2010, in conjunction with International Coastal Cleanup.

Going to the sea is like going home, and my hopes for the three days were realised. The weather was good and the sea was kind to us. Bleached coral and coral rubble were a common sight though, and that was the reality of the situation. How will the corals fair in the face of climate change, rising sea temperatures and rising sea levels in the next few decades, besides the threat of devastation from destructive fishing gear and uncontrolled development?

A total of 32 members from MNS made it to Redang, consisting of snorkellers and divers. We made up about half of the people who were there for the International Coastal Cleanup Day programme, organised by Scuba Amigo, and supported by Pelangi Beach Resort, Marine SIG of MNS Selangor Branch and Project AWARE.


On the morning of the beach clean-up, around 70 participants broke up into their pre-assigned groups and made their way to their pre-assigned sectors at Pasir Panjang beach to begin work. There were 6 groups and I was leader of Group 6. My group-mates diligently picked up bits of rubbish scavenged from the beach and showed each piece to me, and then I noted all the items down in the survey form. It was really hot and sunny at 10am, but my group, including Fong, Fiona, Ilyas, Sollihein and Dr. Tan, did their work well and nobody suffered from fried brains thereafter.

I would also like to point out we saw a remarkable spectacle at the Pasir Panjang area – huge monitor lizards up high on coconut palms, just below the leaves, at sunrise. We thought they were sunbathing. Also, I rather liked the friendly squirrels that would come down from the trees to see us, in the hope that we might offer them morsels of food. I practised yoga on the porch on Friday and Saturday – an inquisitive squirrel or two came down on both days to check what it was all about. I thought it was rather amusing.

Thanks to Dr. Kana Kula of Marine SIG for taking the lead in the organising of the trip. Thanks also to Assoc. Prof. Liew Hock Chark of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) for giving a talk on the marine environment and turtles on the evening of Saturday, 18 Sept 2010.