Malaysia: Young coral reef growing healthily

Ivan Loh The Star 25 Aug 12;

THE pilot project to conserve coral reefs at Mentagor Island, near Pangkor, continues to show positive signs of growth.

Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) communication officer Aaron Tam said the coral nubbins were still alive and were in good condition.

“The young corals are growing at an average rate of 2.01cm, reaching adulthood and will continue to grow at the same rate.

“And despite battling strong currents, all the coral nubbins are hanging on strongly,” he told The Star.

In October 2011, a frame measuring 3 sqm with Acropora corals was transplanted by RCM with the help of several snorkelling guides onto the seabed near Mentagor.

A check by RCM, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to conserve coral reefs, earlier this year, discovered that the project was successful with a 100% survival rate.

Tam said RCM had also used a frame with a new design and had transplanted the existing corals onto it in June.

“It definitely had a positive impact on the survival of the nubbins,” he said, adding that the old frames were too bulky, creating a lot of water resistance when the currents were strong.

“For some reason, the currents in Pangkor are a lot stronger than what we get in the east coast.

“Fortunately for us, it has not affected the growth of the corals,” he added.

Tam said the new frame, made from PVC pipes, provided the coral nubbins with a smooth and secure surface for them to attach themselves to.

“Each frame holds up to 28 nubbins and are held up by legs that are driven into the bottom floor to keep them in place.

“There are pre-drilled holes in the frames which allow us to secure the nubbins onto the frames with cable ties,” he said, adding that RCM would continue to experiment on how to create a better frame to house the corals.

“Once we are absolutely sure we have got the right designs to withstand the currents in Pangkor, we will extend the project to include more frames onto the seabed,” he added.

Tam also said the nursery at Pangkor Laut Resort had been moved to Mentagor.

“When we set up the Safe Snorkelling Zone (SSZ) near the island, we transplanted all the nurseries there,” he said, adding that the snorkelling guides had started to take tourists to the zone.

“We want to reduce the pressure on Pulau Giam, which was the only snorkelling site available before the SSZ was set up near Mentagor,” he said.