Every year we have groups of volunteers from schools, universities and corporate companies volunteering at the project. Last week, we had 15 staff from Star Publication doing ‘teambuilding with a cause’. The theme for this group was ‘Marine Awareness Campaign’. Hence they learned and spread the words to conserve the marine environment. They prepared a puppet show and a play for the kids during school club. They also taught the kids how to do it and they all performed it to the local villagers. The volunteers had also designed a signboard to create awareness!
This year we started a campaign to create awareness among tourists who are here to snorkel and/or dive. There are cases of snorkellers being hit by boat propeller every year. We began to collaborate with resorts and chalets to brief their guests before snorkel tour. Apparently many are not aware of the rules in Marine Park. Unfortunately, some know but are just plain ignorant. Awareness starts with knowledge. We briefed our volunteers on the dos and don’ts in Marine Park. We set up information booths every Saturday morning and the volunteers will speak to tourists who walk by.
Perhentian Islands are paradise and most snorkel sites are just a few meters deep. As much as everyone enjoy swimming with the marine life, we hope everyone practise eco-snorkelling to help protect and conserve the marine environment! Here are a few things that everyone should be aware of during snorkelling.
Wear a Life Jacket and Swim within Designated Snorkel Area
Please wear a life jacket when you are on a boat. You are encouraged to wear a life jacket when you snorkel as it keeps you afloat, even if you get tired. More importantly, by having a life jacket on, the boatman can see you from far and avoid yourself from being hit by propeller. Therefore, please always swim within the buoyline because there is heavy boat traffic out of the buoyline.
No Fins during Snorkelling
Only snorkel guides are allowed to use fins for emergency purposes to swim faster to a casualty or bring the tourist back to the boat. At times, the corals are really shallow and by having fins on, you might accidentally kick and break the corals, especially if you are floating vertically in the sea.
Perhentian Islands are designated as Marine Park. Fishing is only allowed out of two nautical miles from the islands.
No Touching Marine Life
Perhentian Island is rich in marine life. During your snorkel tour, you’ll stop at different snorkel sites to see corals, coral fishes, turtles and sharks. It is an amazing experience to swim with the marine life. Please respect them by not touching any marine life. Some marine life can be poisonous or they sting, such as jelly fish, sea urchin, etc.
No Touching or Harassing Turtles
It is quite common to snorkel around turtles. They are most of the time feeding on sea grass. However, they surface to breathe. Please don’t harass the turtles but watch the turtles at a distance so that you don’t stress them out. Imagine if you are having your lunch, would you like it if strangers touch or harass you? Turtles spend longer time on the surface to breathe if left undisturbed. It happened before that a turtle laid her eggs in the sea because she was disturbed.
Feeding the fishes is not encouraged because it changes their behaviour. That’s the reason why when you go into the sea, fishes come around and try to nibble you because they start to associate human with food. This is not an aquarium and you will not be here every day to feed them. It is not necessary to feed fishes or sharks because they are capable of finding their own food.
No Touching or Stepping On Corals
Corals are living organisms. The hard corals take months to grow just a few centimeters. Please keep your feet away from the corals so that you don’t hurt yourself. They are also fragile and break easily when you step on them.
No Litter (Bring Your Trash with You)
If you love the marine environment here, please help to keep the island clean. Please always bring your trash, such as water bottles, plastic bags, etc, with you after snorkel tour. Marine life is not as smart as human. For example, turtles will consume the plastic bag, assuming it is a jellyfish as they are not as smart as human. If you swallow a plastic bag, you could tell someone to get it removed but it isn’t the same for marine animals. That’s the reason why you find trash inside of animals’ guts.
Please help spread the message around. Everyone plays an important role to help protect and conserve the nature! A huge thank you to Ecoteer Perhentian Island team and volunteers for designing the posters and participating in the awareness campaign!