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All Quiet on the Eastern Front

sunny 32 °C

hi everyone. hope you are all well. I just thought I'd give a quick update on my movements, which have unfortunately been very limited this week. The aerial surveys that were meant for tuesday have been pushed back to friday now, which has meant a very slow week of office work. My administrative skills are now tip-top, however. There is quite a lot of work to be done for a workshop that MRF are hosting on TEDs (turtle excluder device) at the end of September. About 100 people in various fisheries departments, NGOs, government etc etc are invited to attend and the idea will be to highlight the work that we do over the next few weeks as well as the work done in the past. The end result being that hopefully the state will make TEDs mandatory for all fishing vessels in Malaysian waters, but we will have to wait and see. It's a great shame that I won't be able to attend this though, as we have very important presentations to give back in York that many people are flying half way across the world to listen to (and give their own)! So yeh, this week has been writing and sending out invitations to people and soon we will start to put together some kind of schedule I'm sure.

Sunday we nipped across to Manukan Island for the day- around KK there are a few islands, some bigger than others and you just jump on a little boat thing at the harbour and zip across, takes about 20 minutes. They pick you up at 4pm also. So we went to have a look at Manukan, which is the 2nd largest, although much smaller than the largest, Gaya. There's a sort of eco-resort on the island and facilities and stuff, which is quite useful. Some of the smaller islands don't have anything, which I definitely want to check out in the next few weeks, although apparently the snorkelling isn't as good. All the islands are part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (or TARP as it's known), which you have to pay a fair whack to get into- I think the visitor fee works out at about £5 if you're just going for the chill or £10 if you're diving. Which is quite a lot, especially if you're going there a few times. I've got to say considering the user fee and the fact it's been protected for 40 years, the patch of reef we saw wasn't in good shape. Littered with fragmented coral and really low coverage. It looked a bit of a bomb site to be honest. I think it probably used to be blast fished by the state of it, but not sure. Not a great deal of recovery anyway. Saying that, there were some nice outcrops of coral and some cool marine life. Very different to Egypt anyway- loads of starfish and suprisingly a lot of sea cucumbers too. Saw a massive puffer hiding under a table coral which was cool also. But yeh the water was so warm, we just swam around most of the day enjoying the sea. The sun was out all day too so managed to top up the tan (although that took a couple of days, after the pink changed colour).

Since sunday just been working in the day and chilling out at night. There is a german girl and a guy from the UK who are here the same amount of time as us volunteering for a different organisation, so that is really good. Definitely helps seeing at least a couple of the same faces around, otherwise the people are just changing all the time and you end up having the same boring introductory conversations all the time! They're cool guys too, so spent a fair whack of time with them. Got up early in the morning last night to watch the Germany game, which she was understandably gutted about.I'm glad they're out now though and we're all in the same boat.

Anyway i'm up at 6am tomorrow to get the helicopter up to Kudat where we're going to be based for the best part of a week I guess, maybe a couple of days less. First 3/4 days we're going to be doing the aerial surveys of leatherbacks and dugongs and then starting to prep for the TED project, which is going to be run up there. Going to meet some of the fishermen and try and chat with them, although this is going to be nigh on impossible. I've got to learn how to fit the TED on the net, which will be interesting also. Had to put my diving back a couple of weeks also, which isn't ideal, but no real problem. Not sure if i'll get the internet up there, but will update when I next can. x

P.S. attached some photos from the island on the bottom and trying to keep my grammar as good as possible, but realise I keep making mistakes. Apologies if it hurts the eyes occasionally but can't be bothered to proof read it! And one last thing- that video I spoke about is at the bottom- some of you MEMs might have seen it, it's older than I realised. well worth a viewing though

P.P.S. For Luke- sorry mate. MRF is the Marine Research Foundation- the organisation I'm working for and MEM is Marine Environmental Management- my course at uni! As for NGO- google it, spaz.


Posted by mburgass 18:09 Archived in Malaysia Tagged events

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Ah...at 104F, your photo makes me beyond jealous! Good job, I've done some work with policy for TEDs in US fisheries (Gulf of Mexico), so sea turtles are my favorite sea creature and one I would like to continue to work with in the future. Your project is sounds really interesting and so important!

by Michelle

Minor quibble: if you're going to use acronyms please for the love of all things not involved in marine conservation (i.e. myself) tell me what they mean.
I've read all of your entries to date and yet still have no idea what the MRF is, although I think B&Q stock it in vast quantities. An NGO just makes me think of heart conditions and as for MEMs well they sound like a bunch of hoodlums quite frankly.
Yours forever in the dark, Luke

by Luke

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