PEDAS ROLLS OUT IN MERSING SCHOOLS

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It has been a busy few weeks for us at TIC, and we are finally catching up on our posts. We have exciting news from our education outreach team -- PEDAS is now being rolled out in Mersing schools!  

What is PEDAS?  

PEDAS stands for Pasukan Pendidik Ekologi Dan Alam Sekitar, and is a multi-stakeholder environmental education programme for Mersing’s schools . It is a partnership between Tengah Island Conservation, Reefcheck Malaysia (@reefcheckmalaysia), Trash Hero Mersing (@trashheromersing), Mersing District Council, (@mymersing), Mersing District Education Office, Mersing District Office and the Johor Marine Park Department.

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PEDAS was kicked-off at SMK Sri Mersing on 4 July where 43 students from Form 4 attended an interactive session on  marine ecosystems run by two marine biologists: our Outreach Coordinator Alzam and Reef Check Malaysia’s Nazirul. In the session, the students learned about ecological interdependence, climate change and the impacts that human actions have on the environment and ultimately, their own lives.

 

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First stop

SMK Sri Mersing

The PEDAS programme consists of 5 modules across 5 schools in line with the Johor Sustainability Education Action Plan 2019 – 2023 (Pelan Tindakan Pendidikan Kelestarian Johor 2019-2023). We hope to be able to expand the PEDAS programme across a larger selection of schools and students in the Mersing district over time.

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Interactive session

Learning by doing

Always better together

Always better together

PEDAS was formed on the belief that we could deliver a more relevant, more structured environmental programme to Mersing’s schools by working together with key stakeholders. It is testament of our belief that we are stronger working together than working on our own.

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Teachers rule!

Thank you to the teachers and students of SMK Sri Mersing for the commitment given to the PEDAS team. Thank you also to our partners for their incredible support in getting this programme off the ground. 



 

  

TACKLING MARINE PLASTIC ON WORLD OCEANS DAY

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On Saturday 15 June, Tengah Island Conservation (TIC) organised a community clean-up of Rapang Beach on Pulau Besar in collaboration with Majlis Daerah Mersing (@mymersing) and Trash Hero Mersing (@trashheromersing) to commemorate World Oceans Day. The beach clean-up was held to raise awareness of the issues of marine debris and to protect fragile marine ecosystem from pollution.

 Over 90 volunteers of all ages from from locally-based government agencies, businesses, societies and the local community came together for a common goal – to rid the beach of marine debris. 

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In the beginning

There was trash, trash and more trash…

Dragging ghost gear from the sea

Dragging ghost gear from the sea

 The most common items found, and the most challenging to remove, were lost and abandoned fishing nets and ropes, otherwise known as “ghost gear”. Ghost gear is widely recognized as the most deadly form of marine plastic (World Animal Protection). Other items included over 1300 shoes and slippers and almost 4500 plastic bottles!

Ghost gear up close. Just a small portion of what was removed from the sea that day.

Ghost gear up close. Just a small portion of what was removed from the sea that day.

Working together under the scorching sun for four hours, almost two tonnes of trash was collected, separated, sorted and weighed before being loaded onto a cargo boat. The trash was then brought back onto the mainland for recycling at Clean and Happy Recycling, Mersing for disposal.

Will it ever end?

Will it ever end?

Whilst it was extremely sad to see the amount of trash on the beach, the atmosphere and camaraderie amongst the team was incredible to see. The event was a testament to what a group of committed stakeholders can achieve when working together.

Almost there now..

Almost there now..

Big thanks go to all the volunteers and generous sponsors who contributed food and water, transport and more to ensure the smooth running of the event.

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Debris collected : 1938.5 Kg

916.5 kg Ghost Gear

414 kg other plastic

1323 shoes and flipflops

4449 plastic bottles

CLEAN UP FACT SHEET

Location : Rapang Beach, Pulau Besar

Distance from mainland : 16 km

Number of participants: 92

Organisers :

Tengah Island Conservation

Majlis Daerah Mersing

Trash Hero Mersing

With support from :

Batu Batu Resort

Besar Bagus Place

Clean and Happy Recycling Mersing

D’Coconut Resort,

Dive Asia,

Eng Teck Hardware

Let’s Go Island

Mersing Riders Cycling Team

Mirage Resort

Pejabat Tanah Mersing

Pejabat Taman Negara Johor

Trash Hero Mersing

Victory Trading

 

 

 

 

DiveMaster Intern Blog - Imke Meyer

Over the past month I have been based in Pulau Tengah, Malaysia. I am here primarily to complete a PADI Divemaster internship with Batu Batu Dive Centre and work with Tengah Island Conservation. The reason for my choice of location is partly also to experience life on a small remote island and assess whether I would prefer such a lifestyle.

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The climate, mosquitos and separation from mainstream society and luxuries have been the largest adaptations of remote island living for me. I am all about indulging in nature, but living so remotely for long periods of time is certainly different (not necessarily worse). Tengah island is 900m x 700m big, it takes about 1 hour to walk around the island and it hosts one small eco-conscious resort (Batu Batu) with 22 villas, 1 restaurant and 1 beach bar. Historically the island hosted Vietnam war refugees and has been the film site for Expedition Robinson (the original Hunger Games) and parts of the South African Survivor (which mainly took place on Pulau Besar next to Tengah island).

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Ranch: Our living quarters are truly ‘open plan’ – exposed to the elements – with only poly-vinyl blinds to close in case of a storm. Towards the back we have the forest, inhabited by Joanna and Sasha (two large resident water monitors), some rats, frogs, snakes* and sometimes Flying Foxes that visit our island at night to feed on our local fruit trees. The front of The Ranch faces the sea. With only a few steps you are on the beach with the turquoise waters at your feet.

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We are quite separated from guest accommodation and can therefore most often find ourselves alone on the beach. In fact, you can pretty much always find a beach to yourself on this small island as the guests seldomly wander far from the resort facilities – the island experience here is real – a lot of wildlife, and very few people.

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The staff canteen: All our meals are prepared for us in buffet style by local cooks. The canteen is about a 10-minute walk from The Ranch along the boardwalk and past the jetty. The walk is quite beautiful along the sea and I always make sure to look down to spot the juvenile black tip reef sharks that patrol the coastline. The food here is quite good if you like spicy Malay food; rice, chicken, eggs, fish (the whole fish – head and all) and curry is part of most meals here. A treat for us westerners is always the French fries and fried chicken.

Diving: With an average water temperature of 30˚C and healthy coral reefs, the diving here is world class. Most days the water is flat, currents are slight or completely lacking and fish diversity is noteworthy. The reefs are in shallow waters, easily accessible from shore for snorkelling and visibility ranges from 3 meters to 14 meters depending on rainfall and currents. It is definitely the best coral reefs I have ever dived on and how lucky am I to have 2 months to get to know these reefs and its critters. The dive team at Batu Batu Dive Centre is simply superb. Brad and Asia have been brilliant instructors and mentors throughout my internship and I can’t be happier with my choice to complete my Divemaster here. They have diving experience in Mexico, Gili Islands, Bali, Philippines, the Red Sea and above all are just fantastic humans with a love for marine life.

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Conservation: Tengah Island Conservation is an organisation based on the island focused on turtle and coral conservation. They host around 6 volunteers at a time who assist in boat patrols in search of turtle nests, coral surveys, fish surveys, mangrove restoration, beach clean-ups and much more. Next to the Dive centre you will find the turtle hatchery where recovered turtle nests have been replanted. At the moment we have Green turtle and Hawksbill nests and it takes between 50 and 70 days for them to hatch. We are expecting our first hatchlings within the next week! It’ll be my first time observing turtle hatchlings and I cannot wait!

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The island life so far has been blissful. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here soaking up the sun, hanging with the fish and building relationships with some great people.

Volunteer Blog - Matthew Walker

Arriving on Pulau Tengah Island I instantly knew I’d made the right choice with how to spend my last summer as a student. Aside from the stunning white sand beaches, crystal blue water and beautiful jungle backdrop of the small island I saw upon arrival – I was shortly greeted by some truly kind staff and volunteers thereafter, who welcomed me hospitably. Although I’d had conservation experience in the past, I had been looking forward to developing and broadening my knowledge and skills in the field of marine and terrestrial biology before I left university. As it turns out, I had come to the right place to achieve these goals. After settling into the ‘Ranch’, which is the conservation team’s accommodation, my usual day to day life for the next 10 weeks started.

Every morning, regardless of my morning tasks, I would meet up with the team for a meeting to schedule the day’s events. Usually this would include splitting up the volunteers into groups that would be prescribed certain responsibilities on or around the island for that day, including anything from cleaning rubbish off of the beaches to surveying any of the islands many coral reefs. Throughout the course of the average day, we would work on different projects and ventures of the conservation work, as well as get plenty of time to relax and have time to ourselves. Meals at the canteen would split up our day nicely and were a good way to replenish our energy and meet some of the other staff from the resort. Very often, I would end the day gathered around with the team at the beach or back at the Ranch with a beer in hand watching the sunset.

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Over the course of my time on the island with Tengah Island Conservation, there were many projects that I was specifically passionate about. Although I preferred the marine side of things, I enjoyed learning about terrestrial aspects of conservation, which is definitely something I want to continue to develop. Overall, taking part in the construction, transport and implementation of a new coral nursery frame whilst I was there was extremely memorable.

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This involved piecing together PVC pipe to form a framework to attach broken or damaged coral onto using cable ties. This particular dive lasted well over an hour and during that time I was privileged enough to work alongside an amazing team of divers and personally aid in the formation of the new nursery. It was great to see 6 or 7 divers all working cohesively around this new nursery in such a confined space without, for the most part, getting in each other’s ways. This alongside many of the other diving projects such as reef mapping, underwater clean ups and fish transects were some of the highlights of my trip. I must also include that my guilty pleasure was beach cleans, always secretly trying to fill more bags than everyone else.

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For anyone looking to get involved in a wide range of marine and terrestrial conservation work with a tremendous group of staff in a breathtaking location, Tengah Island Conservation is the place for you. Not only do you get to take part in everything I’ve already mentioned, the work you do is extremely important and every day I would feel exhausted, yet fulfilled. I was able to get involved with so many different aspects of conservation biology and learnt a lot of new and interesting things like the difference between a parrotfish and a wrasse, how to cultivate mangrove propagules, how big Giant Trevally really are, and which food at the canteen was way too spicy! The experience has definitely provided me with a strong ability and desire to work in these environments in the future, and will definitely go a long way on my CV to hopefully land me that dream job. Alongside the involvement with the conservation aspect of Tengah, I’ve taken away a lot of good memories and made some solid friends as well. It was definitely too good not to come back and check in one day but until then, thank you for the experience TIC…

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