Coral ID Workshop

By Loh Wan Yeng

Time for a change. I have been learning to identify birds but I seemed to have stagnated. Coral identification caught my eye. Why not? Since I was starting to indulge into my new hobby of scuba diving, it was about time I learnt something about sea organisms.

On that Saturday morning of 30 May 2009, about 20 of us gathered at the compound of MNS HQ, eagerly awaiting the doors to open. As we settled down in the auditorium, we were introduced to… corals.

What is a coral? Well, the most asked question as put by marine biologist Affendi Yang Amri is whether a coral is a plant or animal. Well, I came away from the workshop with new knowledge that it is an animal but with plant characteristics due to the presence of algae living in the coral. This is one animal that can photosynthesize.

Affendi presented us with slides of beautiful slides corals. Corals not just in one shape, but all kinds – branching corals, massive corals, columnar corals and free-moving ones, amongst others. We were enlightened with knowledge of how fragile the coral ecosystem is and the main enemy is mankind.

Later, we were divided into groups and introduced to a Coral ID software. With the software database of more than 700 coral species, it would help in the identification of coral specimens by selecting the various characteristics of the coral. We had a hands-on session with the software as each group was given a coral skeleton to identify using the software. Well, it was not as easy as we thought it was.

We ended the workshop with a Q&A session. Affendi shared with us the value of the coral ecosystem, with calculations from Tioman as an example. The digits were too long to fit into my calculator. It was a frightening thought, to think of the huge value that would be lost, if the fragile coral ecosystems of the world were destroyed. All in all, the whole session was fun and definitely a good learning experience.




Workshop: Coral Identification

Date: May 30 (Sat)
Time: 9am – 12noon
Venue: Auditorium, MNS HQ

We had such an overwhelming response for the first Coral Identification Workshop we organised on 5 January 2008, that we have decided to conduct another workshop in 2009. This workshop is suitable for people who have either went snorkelling or diving before, but not 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. The facilitator will be none other than our own renowned marine biologist Affendi Yang Amri from University Malaya. Affendi is known for his work involving corals, dugong and marine issues. As an avid diver and lecturer, he is ever ready to share his knowledge on the basics of how to identify corals.

For more information and to book your spot in this workshop, please contact Khor Hui Min (017-8817714, Places are limit, so please book soon!

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.

Workshop: Coral Identification

Date: January 5 (Sat)
Time: 9am-noon
Location: Auditorium, MNS HQ, Jalan Kelantan
Facilitator: Affendi Yang Amri

About this workshop
Interested to know more about one of the wonders of our oceans? Come and find out about corals. Affendi Yang Amri, one of our esteemed marine biologists, will share his knowledge and experience in the methods of identifying corals.

Participants will be exposed to the basic ecology and taxonomy of hard corals a.k.a. Scleractinian corals. The method to differentiate between a hard coral, soft coral and sea anemone would also be included. A detailed explanation will be given on the aspects to look for in determining a hard coral species up to the taxonomic family level while using the CORAL ID software and various coral specimens. At the end of the workshop, it is hoped that participants would be able to recognise a hard coral and identify it considerably well.

This workshop is suitable for a wide range of people, including divers, snorkellers, students, nature enthusiasts and researchers.

About the facilitator
Affendi Yang Amri started out as a mangrove man but chose to concentrate on corals thereafter and is in the midst of finishing his PhD in thermal biology of scleractinian coral (hard corals). The course of his work took him to coral reefs all over Asia – from pristine undiscovered areas in Australia back to the balmy waters of Malaysia and Indonesia and to as far north as Japan. One of his most memorable dives in the frigid waters of Okinawa was a descent into surprisingly warm temperatures as a result of seeping fresh lava that still glowed red and bubbled with sulphur.

Affendi’s name is often mentioned in relation to creatures far removed from coral reefs. He was appointed Project Leader for the University of Malaya Maritime Research Centre ’s (UM Maritime’s) dugong project. Again studying a Malaysian animal that nobody knows much about, Affendi led a pioneering team of scientists and volunteers to the islands of Sibu-Tinggi to find out more about this mystical creature and its ecosystem.

Register now!
As places are limited, please call Khatijah at 013-7708204 to book your place now. This workshop is free of charge, but donations are welcome.

Do not miss this opportunity to know more about the corals you see in the ocean!

Special addition to the programme: A brief slide show about seahorse surveys will be presented at the end of the workshop.

Reef Check EcoDiver course

Dates: Sept 1 (theory in Kuala Lumpur); Sept 7-9 (practical sessions in Tioman)

Become a Reef Check EcoDiver! It’s not boring science…It’s fun! Reef Check is a very simple methodology for measuring the health of coral reefs, easily learned by divers of all ages. Its aim is to collect accurate data on the health of reefs worldwide by conducting surveys of the biodiversity of fish, invertebrates and corals on a reef with divers like you!

To know more, visit Fee: RM680 per member which includes Reef Check Training, EcoDiver certification, 6 dives, all SCUBA equipment rental, training materials, instructor’s time, 2 nights accommodation at Swiss Cottage resort on Tioman Island (based on twin or triple share, longhouse room with fan and hot showers) including breakfast, and donation to the Marine Group fund.

Places are limited and are on a first come first served basis. Booking with payment must be received before 24th August 2007. For more details, contact Saras Kumar at

Note: Reef Check Malaysia is helping the MNS Marine Group train MNS members to form its own reef check team.

Reef Check refresher (theory)

Date: July 21 (Sat)
Time: 2pm
Location: Kuala Lumpur

Calling all MNS members who have previously participated in Reef Check training and survey. If you would like to continue participating in Reef Check surveys, you’ll need to upgrade your skills to become an “EcoDiver.”

MNS Marine Group is offering a half day theory refresher in Kuala Lumpur and two days on an island to complete the certification course. To register, please contact Saras Kumar at

Public talk: Artificial reefs

Date: 29/11/06 Wed at 8pm
Urban Nature Centre, Jalan Kelantan
Free of charge

Find out about artificial reefs, what they’re made of and why they’re sunk into our oceans. This is your chance to ask an expert about the success of these structures and their value to our shores. Can artificial reefs replace our natural reef structures? Should we focus our efforts on building more of these rehabilitation and restoration tools instead of working on the incredibly difficult task of preventing inevitable destruction and damage? Find out the answers to these questions and more at this talk by Leong Sze Wong of the MNS Marine Group.