Malaysia: Where dolphins come to play

Winnie Yeoh and Josephine Jalleh New Straits Times 19 Oct 12;

Photos courtesy of Tan Kai Hong

Triple play: Dolphins playing in the water. Triple play: Dolphins playing in the water.

A SCHOOL of dolphins jumped up and down in the open sea near the second Penang bridge in Batu Kawan and their acrobatic show has created a buzz for many Penangites including civil engineer Tan Kai Hong.

“During that time, I was in a boat with three colleagues. We were about six metres away from the dolphins.

“They kept jumping above the water surface. As we got nearer, they jumped less frequently,” he said.

Tan said he was really amazed to see so many dolphins at one time and he did not hesitate to film their actions on his digital camera.

“It was a rare moment. There were about 20 of them but in my video, I managed to capture about nine dolphins.

“My colleagues were with me at that time and they were busy taking videos and pictures too,” he said.

They were visiting the second Penang bridge near the Batu Kawan end at around 4pm on Monday.

Since uploading the 84-second long video clip on his Facebook page (Kai Hong) , netizens had began sharing it on their own Facebook page and also on YouTube.

The video clip also drew “like” from thousands of Facebook users.

Tan said it was part of his job to go to the bridge site regularly to conduct quality checks on the structure.

“The first time I spotted the dolphins was on Oct 12 in Batu Maung but I only took pictures that time.

“I showed the pictures to my parents but they said they were not clear enough. So, I went to look for the dolphins again on my next visit to the bridge,” he added.

Universiti Sains Malaysia marine mammal biologist and lecturer Dr Leela Rajamani, who is based in the university’s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies in Muka Head, Teluk Bahang, said dolphin sighting was common in Penang.

“Last week alone, we spotted dolphins three times in Muka Head.

“They are common in our waters,” she said when contacted yesterday.

She said so far the Indo-Pacific Humpbacks and Irrawaddy dolphins were the ones spotted here.

“They are shoreline animals so they have specific habitat based on their prey. Northwest Penang (Teluk Bahang) is a hotspot for them.

“Now, they are spotted quite often and it could be due to the seasonal change,” she explained.