Indoor Talk – ‘Small Lives of the Big Oceans’ by Tamil Selvam

MNS Selangor Branch Marine Indoor Talk – ‘Small Lives of the Big Oceans’ by Tamil Selvam

Date: 15 November 2016

Time: 8pm – 9pm

Venue : MNS HQ auditorium, JKR 64, Jalan Kelantan, Bukit Persekutuan, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.


This will be a sharing session with reviews of images captured by Tamil during his dives at various sites in indonesia. His talk will highlight the underwater natural environment and the many small lives of the ocean and the importance of their exsistence to sustain the ocean. Tamil will also be sharing his challenges in diving abroad and tips on diving and underwater photography.

Tamil Selvam has been a leisure diver since 2006, and holds a rescue diver certification. He has dived in many region which includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philipines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Tanzania. Sharing knowledge about underwater photography and spotting macro critters and organizing dive trips has become his passion.

This talk is open to public. All are welcome to attend and will hopefully benefit from the session. For those interested in diving but have no clue on how and where to start, come join in and clear your doubts on diving.

Light refreshments will be served.


Getting the perfect underwater shot

By mnsmarine

The Marine Group’s talk on underwater videography (April 19, 2006) by MNS member and wildlife documentary maker Harun Rahman was attended by more than a dozen people including a very enthusiastic 11-year old.

Harun has been avidly combining his lifelong interest in photography and the outdoors. In the late 1990s, he pioneered Malaysia’s first televised marine life series for ASTRO – 26-episode “Warisan Samudera” was a 3-year journey to Malaysia’s remote reefs in the Andaman Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.

Since then he has taken on more underwater filming projects – Sabah Parks, Turtle Islands Park, a series on Mabul, Sipadan, Pandanan, and Layang Layang, and a documentary about turtles and threats to their survival. His biggest fear while underwater has nothing to do with being eaten by a school of hammerhead sharks, but that he won’t get that perfect shot!

After screening his most recent underwater documentary for the Marine Parks of Malaysia, he talked about various housing options for cameras – from the reasonable EWA Marine SLR camera housing for amateurs to the astronomically priced electronically operated housings for professional videographers.

Taking questions from the audience, his talk progressively became more technical – touching on video formats, and the use of lights and filters. His tips were not only for semi-professionals but also for amateurs with digital cameras and throwaway underwater cameras.

Eleven year old Balakrishna M. Pillai had a question about how to take a picture of a jellyfish. “Jellyfish is very difficult to shoot as they are practically invisible,” answered Harun. “You have to position yourself with the sun behind the jellyfish, and then you can see it better.”

Rather than a shot of a pretty scene, he suggested capturing animal behaviour instead, like a fish eating another fish or turtles mating. He also warned against moving animals just for the sake of a better picture composition.

Underwater videography can be challenging as well as frustrating. Besides water currents which hamper movement, there is also the predicament of lens use – close-up or wide angle. “If I’m using a close-up lens, that’s the time when the manta rays and the school of hammerhead sharks appear,” he lamented.

On leisure divers, he said that he found people going too fast that they miss so much. “I dive for about an hour, in which time I travel at the most 40m in distance,” said Harun. “Other divers travel a long, long way and the boat has to pick me up about a kilometre away.”

There has never been a bad experience with wildlife – even with the infamous triggerfish. “I’ve been a foot away from them,” recalled Harun, “but I don’t go near them when it’s nesting season!” (Male triggerfish guard their nest zealously and have been known to bite divers’ fins that come too close.)

Maintaining neutral buoyancy is exceptionally important when videographing, so too is looking after your dive buddy, getting your underwater orientation right, and watching how much air you have left. Taking all these safety measures into consideration, underwater videography is one of the ways to truly enjoy Malaysia’s marine life.

Talking sharks

By Serina Rahman
Photo by Effendy Rahaman

erahaman_talk1We’ve seen it all before on the big screen – teeth, jaws, that cavernous gaping trapdoor to the depths of a shark’s stomach – but is that REALLY all there is to these dastardly demons from the deep?

“Definitely not,” says KL Kwang, underwater photographer and avid naturalist, “Sharks wouldn’t want to eat us because we don’t taste good.  We don’t have enough fat.”  So those of us with ample extras should stay away from the water then eh? …Actually no…  Kwang goes on to explain that sharks touch and feel with their snouts.  So while you might think that grey toothy creature is eyeing you for lunch – it could just be nuzzling up to you to work out what strange gangly thing had entered its waters, disturbing its peace with panic-stricken thrashing.

erahaman_talk3Thus began Kwang’s shark talk (January 18, 2006). After debunking Hollywood’s myths, Kwang enlightened us all with lots and lots of little known shark facts.  There was not one person who left that evening without learning something new.  For instance, did you know that sharks urinate through their skin?  So that shark’s fin in your bowl of chicken soup had actually been oozing with shark pee when it was still attached to its owner.  How appetising is that?

Of course, no shark talk by a conservation group is complete without some comment on shark’s fin soup – but this was no tirade by a fanatic fish-hugger.  Kwang simply gave us the facts: that the fin has no taste; that eating it does not save you from cancer – instead you might end up with mercury poisoning.  And while many might see the consumption of shark’s fin soup as the ultimate symbol of status and achievement, what status does it convey today when it is so common, it can be bought in a can?

But while the shark enthusiast delivered the dirt calmly, the audience (some of whom had been taking notes) erupted with emotion.  Incensed by explicit photos generously donated by Eric Chang of his visit to the shark finning industry of Ecuador, a loud and highly-charged discussion ensued about the needlessness of shark’s fin soup.  In the end, the unanimous consensus was that the shark’s fin is much better left where it came from – on the shark.

erahaman_talk2Kwang’s talk was not entirely negative and dripping with blood and gore, however.  To calm the now volatile audience, he said with his characteristic cheeky grin, “Let me show you why I love sharks.”  Then the floodgates opened – photo after stunning photo of sharks – common ones, strange ones, rare ones… this was a tribute to the beauty and strength of our most important marine predator.

Amidst the oohing and aahing of the audience, a young listener gaped at the vast open mouth of the basking shark (an utterly harmless plankton eater) and asked, “What would happen to you if you got sucked into that shark’s mouth?”  “He’d spit you out,” responded Kwang.  And that really was the moral of the story: sharks don’t want to eat us… and we need to stop eating them.

The Marine Group is planning to launch a campaign to save the sharks (and their fins) soon. If you know of anyone who has done something special for the sharks (gave a lecture at their shark-free wedding, converted their company into not serving shark’s fin soup etc) or if you’ve been to a restaurant that chooses NOT to serve shark’s fin soup – do get in touch, we’d like to do a write-up on them. Send your contacts/ stories to Serina at

Nature photography talk

By Khor Hui Min
Photo by Effendy Rahaman

A nature photography talk organised by Click! Magazine and the Malaysian Nature Society as part of a series of activities that coincided with the “Living with Nature” Sony Nature Photography Contest was held at Sony Style KLCC (November 19, 2005).

Professional photographer Allan Wong started off the event with his talk and slide show presentation about the inhabitants and breathtaking underwater landscapes of Sipadan, Redang, Layang-Layang, and Mataking Islands . Entertaining stories about the subjects in his photos captivated the audience.

Next up was T.C. Lim, MNS Marine Group Coordinator. His educational yet light-hearted presentation highlighted the society’s conservation efforts and projects including the Belum-Temengor forests, Endau-Rompin, the Boh Centre in Cameron Highlands , and Kuala Selangor Nature Park . He rounded off his session with a special look at our Marine Parks and what needs to be done to preserve their beauty. All in all, I thought that it was a fruitful experience and I look forward to attending more of such events in the future.

Underwater photography talk

By Serina Rahman

This was the second session of KL Kwang’s photography talk (April 13, 2005) and this time the audience was even more participative than the first…

Kicking off at 8pm, Kwang ran through the standard technical aspects of photography such as f-stops and depths of field and offered advice on techniques and problems specific to taking photos underwater. Some tips: the key to getting good macro shots is to get as close to the subject as possible (without touching it!) and essential to successful wide angle photography underwater is the size of your strobes and what you do with them.

With updated slides and lots of actual equipment to show the audience, what seemed to be complicated concepts quickly became accessible to the budding photographer. Of special interest to many were the tips on what kind of camera to buy. Not tied as a spokesman to any specific brand, KL Kwang was able to objectively discuss the pros and cons of a number of brands and models. He pointed out that the type of camera you choose depends entirely on the individual and what you want to get out of a camera.

The best part of the talk is always Kwang’s slideshow of his own photos. Taken mostly in Pulau Tioman, they are a great insight to the diversity of the marine life there and great examples of what we can find in our own waters. While he used his photos as samples to offer some stylistic and compositional tips, Kwang was quick to mention that even he has no right to decide if a photo is good or not… each person would have their own preference and style. Photography truly is a personal pursuit.

The best way to learn how to take good photographs, he said, was to try out actual techniques and just practise, practise, practise. If you are keen to get a practical insight into everything he’s taught – and more – and experiment under his patient tutelage, keep a look out for the Practical Photography Session in Tioman in September.

Just make sure you have valid dive certification, a camera and underwater housing and join us to get your feet (and everything else!) wet and see how photography is really done underwater!

Underwater photography talk

By Serina Rahman

It was 7.30 on a Wednesday night (November 24, 2004) and the MNS HQ Auditorium was jam-packed with would-be underwater photographers waiting for KL Kwang’s pearls of wisdom.

He began with a brief introduction to underwater photography and then went into detail on what to look for when buying an underwater camera. Optical zoom versus digital zoom, memory cards, shutter delay – it was techie-heaven and the audience gladly gulped up his tips. Along the way, Kwang modeled his own camera equipment and gave us his personal hints on where to buy it all (be very careful on e-bay!). He even demonstrated photo-saving techniques on PhotoShop.

Of course there were environmental messages as well – to never move, hurt or obstruct marine life in the quest for that perfect photograph; and one less fish eaten is one more fish to photograph. To top off an enjoyable evening, Kwang showed us some of his unsorted photos. At the same time, he also included a crash course in fish identification.

Not only did I learn a lot about underwater camera technology, I came away with the reassuring knowledge that even for experts like Kwang, for every award-winning photograph that’s taken, there are a couple of imperfect ones as well, and I should never give up trying!

Celebrate the Sea

Story by mnsmarine

The Celebrate the Sea Marine Imagery Festival and the World Eco-Tourism event was held at the National Science Centre (July 29 – August 1, 2004). The festival included photographic competitions, seminars, workshops, static exhibitions, and the screening of marine documentaries.

Some of the speakers included Dr Gerry Allen (The Heartland of Biodiversity), Neville Coleman (Nudibranchs – Butterflies of the Sea), Dr Liau Tai Leong & Mr Kaliyannan Karupiah (REACH – The Missing Link?), and Tony White (Sardine Run).

The opening ceremony started later than as advertised, hence one of the talks, on reef conservation, got pushed to the second day. A forum about “How should divers and diving operators contribute to preservation of the ocean environment?” led by a panel of notable speakers which included Dr Ho Sinn Chye, Neville Coleman, Dr Walter Stark, Dr Gerry Allen, Michael Aw, and Abdul Azeez Abdul Hakim, ended Day 2.  

The MNS Marine Group had a booth on Level 2, and we managed to get two of our three new T-shirt designs printed in time for this event. We also had the company of Ms Phang who was representing MNS HQ Shop and the Membership department to help in the promotion of the society’s educational and ongoing conservation projects.