On the 14th October 2023, LUSH Malaysia flew over Gaya Island, Malohom Bay, Sabah for our annual Coral Planting Campaign, in collaboration with Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC). The guests that came along with LUSH Malaysia were Ramona Zamzam, Crystal Swung, Debbie Low, Syazil from L’Officiel Hommes and Wong Wei from Places MY. During this campaign, a total of 100 coral fragments were replanted at the diving point location situated around Gayana Marine Resort.
The campaign started early in the morning with a boat ride to Gayana Marine Resort, where MERC is located. All 19 individuals representing LUSH Malaysia tuned in for a short introduction and briefing by Marine Biologists over at the MERC where we were given a glimpse behind the scenes of being a Marine Biologist.
MERC is the first in Malaysia that has successfully produced all seven species of giant clams found in Malaysian waters. MERC started off with humble beginnings in 2007 as a learning and educational centre. Driven by passion from its owner, the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) pledged to address the increasing threats on marine life, combating its effects by returning to nature what was previously destroyed.
After the short briefing, we continued our programme by replanting broken coral fragments that were picked up from the seabed surrounding Gayana Marine Resort by the Dive Masters. The method used for the corals to regrow is by replanting them on a cement base.
After replanting the coral fragments, a total of 12 LUSH Malaysia divers accompanied by 2 Dive Masters, Asri and Fizan from MERC and also joined by Gillian Tan, Ben Uzair, Jinifer, Rosalind Hee, Syowell and Rechey from Echo Resort’s management team headed down 18 metres to propagate the coral fragments at the designated restoration site at Teluk Malohom.
The divers replanted the coral fragments onto a ship wreck that was sinked by the resort called Rafflesia drop. Rafflesia drop is a diving point for the Dive Specialty Dive training area. The shipwreck used to be MERC’s Titan Luxury Yacht which they decommissioned in 2018 and they sank the boat later in the end of 2019 with the purpose of making it an artificial reef for marine life. Today, not only it is the home of various types of fish species, but also as part of MERC’s scuba training and recreational spot apart from a place where they created an underwater garden. The rest of the non-divers from LUSH Malaysia were also given a chance to propagate the coral fragments by snorkelling around the resort.
Restoration of coral reefs by MERC
In Teluk Malohom, efforts are being made to restore the coral reefs destroyed by explosives and chemicals by irresponsible fishermen:
- Replanting of broken coral fragments – Since June 2009, almost 35,000 fragments of corals have successfully been planted on the seabed with a high survival rate of 90%.
- Deploying artificial reefs to rejuvenate marine habitats by installing 1 electric Biorock structures to boost coral growth. MERC is the first in Malaysia to use this technology.
We are hoping that this Coral Planting campaign can echo MERC’s conservation efforts and the knowledge they shared to the community near them if not throughout the world community.