10 February 2010

Saving Sungai Pulai: SOS report for 2008-09

Threatened by development, the beautiful Sungai Pulai has been the focus of a group of dedicated volunteers. This area in Johor is situated opposite our shores at Tuas, where alas, reclamation and industrial development are also ongoing.
Written by Choo Chee Kuang, the report outlines the brave and relentless efforts made by the Save our Seahorses group over the last two years.

From the report:
The spotlight issue was the clearing of a 913-ha Sungai Pulai mangrove forest to make way for a petrochemical and maritime project which has been featured substantially in the media.

Despite a pledge signed by 5,000 people to prevent the destruction to the mangrove forest, a series of memorandum submissions by the fishing communities, scientific reports highlighting the vulnerability of such development on the environment, and the press statement voiced out collectively by nine environmental NGOs in Malaysia – sadly, our efforts did not yield the fruit as desired.

The 913-ha of mangrove forest is already on the verge of annihilation. The relevant authority, however, only gave the assurance that mitigation practices to reduce environmental impacts would be closely monitored.
Also from the report:
The Pulai River Estuary is the only place in Malaysia found with significant Spotted Seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) population. It has the most extensive seagrass bed in the country, large tracts of pristine mangrove forest and some coral reef. Other endangered marine creatures like the dugongs, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles, pipefishes, and dolphins are also present.

Volunteers from all walks of life and all ages helped to conduct many documentation efforts in the area.

There was a seahorse and pipefish survey, where volunteers searched seagrass meadows for seahorses and pipefishes which were tagged, measured and recorded by researchers.
There was also seagrass monitoring involving schools and NGOs.
As well as cool aerial photo shoots of the seagrass meadows. Via remote-control chopper! Awesome!
The team also did surveys of Pulau Merambong's reef diversity and rocky shore. Pulau Merambong is the tantalising island that we can see off Tuas whenever we do seagrass monitoring there.
There was also a census of dugong feeding trails and other scientific studies of the area.

SOS also issued a handbook of the flora and fauna in Sungai Pulai. One thousand copies were printed and are currently available at the SOS research centre and the Malaysian Nature Society bookstore. Priced at RM29 each.
The volunteers also conducted an awe-inspiring number of outreach activities in schools and other public events. They are also ctively engaged in empowerment in resource and livelihood protection campaigns.

Download the SOS final report 1008-2009 (pdf) from the Save our Seahorses website.

Sungai Pulai is one of the three Ramsar sites in Malaysia, that lies just across from Tuas.
More links
More media reports about Sungai Pulai
Save our Seahorses is a non-profit organization committed to saving the seahorse and the Pulai River Estuary in Malaysia. SOS comprises a group of young scientists, students, public volunteers and local fishing communities.

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