Assessing the Clean Coast Index (CCI) in Tenggol Island

Report and photos by SL Wong


In conjunction with World Oceans Day (WOD) 2016, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Marine Group (Selangor Branch), in partnership with the Scuba Schools International (SSI) conducted a beach clean-up which incorporated the methodology introduced in MIMA’s earlier study on the Application of the Clean Coast Index (CCI) for Cleanliness Assessment of Coastal Areas in Malaysia.

The beach clean-up was part of the group’s 4-day shark awareness programme and took place at Tenggol Island on the Marine Park Island in Terengganu on 5th June.



Using a slightly modified version of MIMA’s CCI, 32 participants aged 11 to 75, cleaned up a 440m-stretch of the island’s western beach which hosts its three resorts. More rubbish, comprising mainly plastic pieces, rope (including nylon rope) and cigarette butts, was seen at the southern rather than at the northern end of the island. The data is being collated for compilation into MIMA’s baseline-study database on the subject.


MIMA seeks to encourage the continuous use of the CCI methodology in measuring coastal cleanliness in Malaysia. It is simple enough to be widely applied and emulated as a long-term measure for assessment, as well as towards formulating management strategies in addressing coastal litter management.

Source: MIMA, 5th June 2016



Comparative guide to mangroves

Reproduced here with the kind permission of the author Dr JWH Yong from National Institute of Education, Singapore.

Mangrove ID guide1_DrJohnYong

Mangrove ID guide2_DrJohnYong

A different kind of holiday

By Teoh Tee Hui
Photos by C.H. Ong and Lai Chong Haur

Sixteen people including three children participated in the MNS Selangor Branch Marine Group’s World Oceans Day event at Pulau Perhentian Besar, including new member Teoh Tee Hui. Here she tells us why she had made the right choice.

I WAS torn between two different dive trips – to choose between picking up rubbish underwater in Perhentian or to dive leisurely in Pulau Tenggol. Somehow, somewhat, I chose to go Perhentian.

Event facilitator Lai Chong Haur picked us up from Petaling Jaya the day before to drive to Kuala Besut. It was an interesting drive as there were the four of us to keep company and we had the second event facilitator Siva Prakash (The Fish Man!) to tell us about fishes and the eco system throughout the drive.

We put up a night in Samudra hostel which was about 5 minutes away from the jetty. The following morning, we met up with the rest of the participants and got to know each other a little better.

MNSPerhentian00017_1st dive!

1st dive!

There were several leisure dives to have a look at the beauty of the dive sites in Perhentian. This made me feel fortunate to be able to enjoy the beauty that the underwater world was able to offer us…while the corals were still alive. 


After the ‘Dive Against Debris’ Project AWARE clean-up

The first cleanup dive was at this place that was known as the dumping ground around Perhentian. There wasn’t that much rubbish as we had expected. The next dive site was actually near the shore and near a campsite. And yes, there was lots of rubbish to be picked up! I was in Perhentian for a leisure dive just last September; I was never aware how dirty it was until this time round!

We also had a beach cleanup, which was great. It was a fruitful beach cleanup as there was an assortment of items that were picked up – fishing nets, plastic bottles, food wrappers and a lot of cigarette butts.

The marine videos and after-dive briefings were really informative to educate us about how fragile the marine ecosystem is. Cruelty in shark finning and underwater do’s and don’ts reminded us how we should behave in the sea. We had a post-mortem of the cleanups to understand better, how and why this rubbish ended up in the sea and on the beach.

MNSPerhentian00186_nets which will be big problem later if it is left there

Vacationers willing to spend time helping out with the Clean Coast Index study

Although the participation was not too great in numbers, we had at least more than eight vacationers who took time off to join us. This created awareness in a small number of people but hey, every journey begins with a single step. We also had little ones who participated in the beach cleanup 🙂 Also, meeting interesting people and camaraderie forged for a common cause.

For sure, I did not regret my decision to pick up rubbish. 🙂

Event co-ordinator’s note: The visibility at the first cleanup site was poor, so after awhile, the divers headed to the second dive site. The cleanup dives were sponsored by Alu Alu Divers. The volunteer holidaymakers emerged from some of the resorts along the 1km-long study area…and with some of the staff members from Bayu Dive Lodge, in total about 30 people participated in the beach cleanup / MNS-MIMA Clean Coast Index study. The data is being tabulated and analysed…results out soon!

Perhentian – as seen through C.H. Ong’s lens

One of the members who participated in the Snorkel & Dive Perhentian trip in June 2013, has given us his permission to publish these photos on this blog complete with the original captions (yes including the ones with no captions). None of the underwater pictures have been digitally manipulated (just a tiny bit) except the really green ones that made the editor feel green, so those have been converted into black and white.

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How clean is the Teluk Dalam beach at Pulau Perhentian Besar?

In June 2012, the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch, Alu Alu Divers and Bayu Dive Lodge logged rubbish collected in random sections of Teluk Dalam, Pulau Perhentian Besar. With the data, researcher Mahmudah Ahmad Luthfi from the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) was able to find out just how clean or dirty the beach was in relation to other Malaysian beaches studied in 2011. This is her report – “Beach cleanliness: enhancing awareness of litter management”. 

DAVID Suzuki from the Suzuki Foundation said, “Our choices at all levels — individual, community, corporate and government — affect nature. And they affect us.” On those same grounds, when we choose to litter our pristine beaches, it affects not only the local community, but the ecology as a whole.

Acknowledging the need to raise awareness on the importance of litter management, the MNS Marine Group (Selangor Branch) conducted a Beach and Dive Site Clean-up in cooperation with Alu Alu Divers, as well as staff and guests of the Bayu Dive Lodge at Teluk Dalam beach on the island of Perhentian Besar (Figure 1 and Figure 2) from June 2-5, 2012. This activity was held in conjunction with World Oceans Day.

The volunteers used MIMA’s sampling methodology – Clean Coast Index for Cleanliness Assessment of Coastal Areas in Malaysia which was first applied in 2011, and which revealed the less-than-desirable state of the cleanliness of Malaysian beaches.

This article highlights the findings of the Teluk Dalam survey.

Table 1 summarises different litter types found at the sampling sites. Cigarette stubs were the main item collected (15.21%), followed by plastic pieces and cutlery (10.70%). Employing the CCI methodology of assessing beach cleanliness, which uses plastic litter as an indicator, the survey recorded a CCI index value of 3.17 placing the beach in the ‘clean’ category. This index generally indicates that the higher the recorded CCI value, the worse off the area would be in terms of litter accumulation.

Table 1. Litter types collected at the sampling site

No Type of Litter %
1 Polystyrene 6.52
2 Bottle caps 6.84
3 Sweet wrappers 6.17
4 Cigarette butts 15.21
5 Plastics bags 9.05
6 Plastics pieces/cutlery 10.70
7 Straws 5.40
8 Balloon 1.65
9 Drink cans 3.08
10 Plastics bottles 7.39
11 Glass bottles 1.10
12 Aluminium caps 0.55
13 Aluminium tins 1.21
14 Newspaper 0.00
15 Paper particles 2.87
16 Fishing lines 0.11
17 Rubber pieces 1.87
18 Textile 0.55
19 Bulky waste 0.44
20 Shoes 0.44
21 Rope 8.05
22 Wood 0.22
23 Glass 0.33
24 Metal 0.77
25 Tarballs 0.00
26 Others 9.48

To illustrate the state of litter on the Teluk Dalam beach this finding is compared with the 2011 study by MIMA. Surveys were carried at eight major recreational beaches around Malaysia i.e., Pantai Morib (Selangor), Pantai Desaru (Johor), Pantai Cenang (Langkawi), Pantai Balok (Pantai Pahang), Pantai Puteri (Melaka), Tanjung Tuan (Port Dickson), Pantai Puteri (Sarawak) and Tanjung Aru (Sabah).

The CCI of 7.11 recorded at Pantai Desaru indicated that the beach was dirty with quite a significant amount of plastic materials collected during the survey. Meanwhile, Pantai Cenang had the lowest CCI value at 1.08. Pantai Cenang was therefore considered clean during the sampling period.

Overall, Teluk Dalam beach on the island of Perhentian Besar is considered to be much cleaner than Pantai Desaru, but dirtier than the Pantai Cenang beach based on the amount of plastic recovered from the area. A total of 71% of the litter found at Teluk Dalam was plastic-based.

The term ‘plastic’ includes any artificial waste made, or partly made, of plastic, including nylon fishing lines, styrofoam remains, plastic bags of all sizes, polyurethane sheets, bottles and bottle caps, cigarette boxes and outer covers. Only plastic particles exceeding 2 cm in size are included in the index numerator.

Plastic (Figure 4) is used as an indicator mainly due to its long life span and potential harmful effects on the ecology and community e.g., marine lives face repercussions as there have been records of deaths from entanglement or ingestion of such debris.

However, most packaging and products in the waste stream are made of small groups of commodity plastics including polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and polyamide (Kershaw et al., 2010). The lifespan of plastics at sea is not accurately known, but it is estimated to be in the range of years to decades, depending on the physical and chemical properties of the polymer (Ng, K.L. et at., 2006).

Routine clean-up activity on the Teluk Dalam beach is largely done on an ad-hoc basis by the resort operators in the area usually twice in a season (between March and October). The outcome of this clean-up survey however indicates that there is a need for regular clean-ups. Considering the results obtained, it is also essential that efforts are taken to reduce plastic usage in the country through awareness campaigns or ultimately through the introduction of levies and charges.

An excerpt of this article was first published in the marine-focus issue of the Malaysian Naturalist September 2012 Volume 66-1. This complete article is published with the permission of MIMA.

Celebrating World Oceans Day at Perhentian

Main story by JelliButz
Photos by JelliButz, W.L. Wong, H.Y. Leong and Samuel Beer

Finally, after a 10-hour car ride and 30 minutes on a speedboat, we finally landed on Pulau Perhentian Besar. What a welcoming sight it was!

Organised by MNS Marine SIG (Selangor Branch), this annual dive-snorkel-beach clean-up (June 2—5) is one activity I finally got to participate in. Organisers Hon Yuen and Wee Liem got down to the business of settling us in. A small team we were, just the six of us, a cozy bunch.

Samuel Beer P1000953

After lunch, each of us got into our respective modules, be it the snorkelers or the divers. I got drawn in with a group of leisure divers and off I went for my first dive on the very same day. The abundance of marine life in pristine waters literally took my breath away! It was a different world altogether, with fishes and corals right before my eyes, within an arm’s length away.

Being the sole leisure diver in the group did not give me immunity from the assignment given by our organisers – to identify what marine life we had seen and to present to the group. 

It was a night of discovery. We learned from each other as well as about each other, for example, a talented artist and a passionate beach-comber (who enthusiastically led the group on a beach-combing night-walk along the tide-receded beach).

To celebrate World Oceans Day (June 8), both Marine SIG and Alu Alu Divers (and the staff and guests of Bayu Dive Lodge) participated in clean-ups over two days.

We were briefed on the do’s and don’ts of the reef-dive clean up initiated by the dive centre.

It was another first for me. We came up with numerous plastic bottles, aluminum/tin cans, fan belts, polystyrene, a kettle, a pot, etc from the sea. It was heart-wrenching to find such rubbish in these pristine waters in a protected marine park.

The beach clean-up by Marine SIG was another eye-opener. The beach was systematically measured into 100 10-metre wide transects, and we collected and logged the rubbish in 30 randomly selected transects. This technique was based on a system by Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) to determine an index for the beach cleanliness.

It was another heart-wrenching sight to see the kind of rubbish we recorded, amongst many – baby diapers, cigarettes butts, cans, plastics, etc.

Though we were disgusted with the apathy of many beach-goers, it is heartening to know that there will be a group of eco volunteers who are willing to put aside their time for a clean-up.

Time zipped by too fast, and it was time for us to be at the jetty again for the boat back to the mainland. The weekend had been an eye-opener to us all; not forgetting the great camaraderie that would go a long way in years to come.

Now, let’s hear what the three course participants had to say about their experiences:

Photo by W.L Wong DSC_7599

L to R: Valle, Steven, Mary – W.L. Wong


Mary Chan, SSI Snorkel Diver: I wanted to join the trip, but the only non-dive package available was the Snorkel Diver course. I took the course even though I have snorkeled hundreds of times before! No regrets though; it was good to go through a systematic snorkeling course as they not only teach you the basics (which, of course, I already know) but also the safety and ecological side of being in the sea.

On the practical side, I got to skin dive a lot (for a better view of corals and fish). That was some challenge! How deep can you go?! And how long can you hold your breath for?!

I had expected a lot of other MNS members to come for this trip, but there were only four participants and two volunteer organisers. We had the chance to get to know each other much better this way! I’m definitely very glad that I joined this trip.

Photo by H.Y. Leong IMG_2026

Getting ready for skills training with Colin Von Klingeren (centre) – H.Y. Leong

Steven Lim, SSI Snorkel Diver: This was a good opportunity for me to give my support (to the environment) and at the same time learn a new skill. After all, how hard can a snorkelling course be? I learnt later that it wasn’t as simple as swimming with a life jacket and doing a theory test. It required swimming in open water and diving into the sea without wearing a life jacket!

For two days we went through our theory lesson and snorkel practical in a confined water area near the dive centre. We practiced the kick, the method to dive into the water and the proper way of clearing the snorkel after submerging. It was a mixture of fear, fun and excitement.

However, my fear of deep water did not vanish with these newly learnt skills. Fortunately my instructor Colin understood my concern and we started our “experiment” – swimming in shallow water to build up my confidence, and it paid off! The next thing I knew, I was swimming in open water without a life jacket. It was a great relief and a happy moment.

Valle Sinniah, SSI Ecological Diver: I signed up for this course mainly because I wanted to improve my buoyancy. Instead I got more than I hoped for. I learnt about fish, coral and other marine life and at the same time an opportunity to contribute something back to the reef. It is a well-known fact that most dive sites in Malaysia show significant reef and ecosystem degradation. In that sense, the course has thought me the importance of being not only a better diver but also a responsible and caring one.

I had to complete the Perfect Buoyancy and Underwater Naturalist specialty courses.

The Perfect Buoyancy specialty course helped me to sharpen my skills in hovering and streamlining with emphasis on the finning technique and the Underwater Naturalist specialty course thought me to identify more of the many different species of marine life found.

As part of the course I must also participate in one clean up dive which was so much fun. And I learnt another important lesson – ‘respect and stay close to your buddy’.

Loh Wan Yeng Perhentian 2012 - 369 High Res

Beach clean up volunteers from Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. – Steven Lim







Day trip: Visit to intertidal seagrass area

Date: June 2 (Sat)
Time: 8am-4pm
Cost: RM40/pax

The Marine SIG is organising a day trip to visit the intertidal seagrass area in Port Dickson. The seagrass ecosystem is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world but it has never been given the special attention that it deserves.

The seagrass communities are nursery and breeding grounds to many marine organisms especially the commercially important and vulnerable species e.g. trevalley, snapper, anchovy, mullet, grouper, prawns, crabs, dugongs, marine turtles, seahorses etc. Learn about the different species of seagrasses that can be found here (one of the highest species count in Malaysia) and how they are important in saving our seafood stock.

Come and join us for a day trip (8am to 4pm) on 2 June 2012. Travelling will be by bus. Cost of the trip is RM40 per pax. Food not included. Places are limited and will be given on a first come, first serve basis. For more details, call Eda at 03-22879422 ext. 27 (office hours only) or e-mail