Thursday August 9, 2012
Adopting corals for marine life
TIOMAN: The Starts in Tioman (SIT) diving programme, which was launched three years ago has extended its activities to adopting corals.
The programme, where journalists are given the opportunity to have diving lessons for open water took place in Kampung Genting, Pulau Tioman, recently.
The four-day event attracted more than 50 divers including experienced, advanced level licence holders, master divers and a new batch of learners from media and government agencies.
The objective was to produce divers as well as to expose them to the underwater world in efforts to create awareness and love for marine life especially corals.
Corals get stressed when exposed to changes in sea conditions such as temperature, light or nutrients and expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues causing them to turn white in a matter of time.
Warmer water temperatures can also cause the coral to bleach.
In the process of coral bleaching, if no action is taken, the coral would soon die.
In a move to protect, preserve and conserve the corals, efforts by Villagers Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd, Tourism Ministry’s Pahang Office, Tioman Development Authority and Tioman Marine Park, the event’s organisers, have to be commended.
Pahang Tourism Ministry Office director Idros Yahya said the expansion to Adopt-a-Coral programme would ensure the continuity of the previous successful SIT 1 (2010) and SIT 2 (2011).
Idros said by having the licence to dive, it would create awareness among divers.
Idros said this could help them to preserve the corals and marine life.
Villagers Travel and Tours manager Syed Rizalman Syed Abu Bakar said it only cost RM50 per pot to adopt a coral.
Syed Rizalman said the pot consists of a mixture of clay, sodium,water, and other materials to facilitate healthy coral growth.
These coral pots can bear special tags or labels bearing a company’s logo or name.
“The adopt a coral is an effort for coral transplant.
“The programme is under the supervision of the Department of Marine Park Malaysia where donor coral fragments are selected and harvested from healthy coral that have broken off.
“Ideally, these coral fragments should range from around two to five inches in length,” Syed Rizalman said.
He said the coral fragments would then be planted and fixed into the Adopt-a-Coral pots using a mixture of calcium carbonate, zeolite and chippings.
Syed Rizalman said the participants of Adopt-a-Coral project were encouraged to join in planting their own pots under the supervision of staff on site.
“The pots are then transferred into a water holding tank. After a time period of 12 to 24 hours, the pots will then be carefully transferred underwater to the coral nursery platform at a depth of 8 to 10 metres,” Syed Rizalman said.
He said the SIT participants and members of media who could scuba dive would be able to dive and view the coral nursery and observe works in progress from a specified distance at specific times, throughout the event.
“The planted coral fragments will be carefully monitored by appointed marine specialists during the first two weeks with an interval of one month, three months and six months.
“After the coral fragments have been determined healthy and mature enough, they will then be reintroduced to selected coral reefs and progress reports will be posted on SIT’s Facebook page and other available sites,” he said. — By NIK NAIZI HUSIN