10 June 2013

RIP Choo Chee Kuang

It is with deep sadness that I learnt about the passing of Choo Chee Kuang. He runs seagrass monitoring at Sungai Pulai just opposite our Tuas monitoring site, and also champions the Save our Seahorses campaign in Malaysia.
Photo from Louisa Ponnampalam
We were blessed to have met Choo when he visited Singapore for the first TeamSeagrass training in 2007 conducted by Seagrass-Watch.

Choo is a wonderful cheerful presence to any endeavour. His passion and inspiring spirit is infectious and will remain in the hearts of those who have met him. Here is Choo on Cyrene Reef with Dr Len McKenzie of Seagrass-Watch and  TeamSeagrass members. More about these trips in this old blog post.It was wonderful to have Choo as one of the special guests at TeamSeagrass' public launch. The other special guest was Dr Chua Ee Kiam (right) who kindly presented his new book about Singapore's wild shores.
Choo and TeamSeagrass have kept in touch over the years. We were delighted to receive a copy of the wonderful guidebook Choo and his team put together for their good work at Sungai Pulai. I did a post about this delightful resource, copies of which were brought over by Ong Joo Yong, a long-time TeamSeagrass member who has since gone on to be one of the key leads at the Mega Marine Survey.
Here's one of the many interesting pages in this guidebook: One creature Sungai Pulai still has that we have lost are dugongs! SOS had conducted a dugong blimp cam survey for dugongs at Sungai Pulai.
The SOS team has kindly used some of my photos for their book, as well as photos by Debby Ng of the Hantu Bloggers! What a great way to contribute to a wonderful effort for a shore in Johor. Thank you for the opportunity.

What is Sungai Pulai? The Sungai Pulai estuary "possibly the richest marine bio-diversity spot in Malaysia" and gazetted a Wetland of International Importance in 2003. The area may be impacted by plans to develop a massive petrochemical installation there. Sungai Pulai is one of the three Ramsar sites in Malaysia, that lies just across from Tuas. Thus reclamation at Tuas and plans for major developments at Tuas may also impact this huge wetland. Hopefully, greater awareness of Sungai Pulai will be raised among Singaporeans with plans to develop a cross-border tourist attraction involving Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and three Johor Ramsar sites of Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjong Piai.
The team at Save our Seahorses have been working hard to raise awareness and protect Sungai Pulai. Read more about their work in their report for 2008-2009.

Want to see Sungai Pulai for yourself? You can visit with the SOS volunteers! Visit the SOS website (http://www.sosmalaysia.org/) for more details.

We are saddened by Choo's passing, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.


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