Survey. Map. Restore.
CORAL REEF PRESERVATION & MONITORING.
In addition to Tengah Island Hatchery, TIC runs a wider marine conservation programme which includes coral reef mapping on Pulau Tengah and other Johor Islands, coral reef surveys and monitoring, reef restoration and other habitat studies with published scientific reports distributed quarterly. Data and findings are presented at a number of conferences including International Marine Conservation Congress 5 (IMCC5) 2018 and International Conference on Plastics in the Marine Environment 2018 (ICPME18). TIC is part of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Turtle Working Group, Malaysia.
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They are home to millions of species of plants and fish that people depend on for food, medicines and tourism. They also serve as barriers in many areas to protect lives and properties from storms, waves, and the forces of erosion. Coral reef monitoring and assessment are important tools for effective management and can provide information to detect changes in reef conditions.
TIC is in the process of GPS mapping the coral reefs around the Pulau Tengah to determine their exact sizes and locations. This will help to determine reef growth and health over time, as well as allow appropriate planning for coral replanting and placement of mooring lines and buoy lines.
Annual Reef Check surveys are conducted and bolstered this with our own in-house monitoring to study the coral and marine life in more detail over time. We also conduct Rapid Ecological Assessment Methods (REA), — comprehensive, small scale, site-specific surveys — to monitor temporal and spatial variations in marine habitats and populations. This non-invasive technique allows the collection of community level data by monitoring the abundance of coral reef organisms. These activities allow us to evaluate the coverage and health of the coral reefs surrounding Pulau Tengah.
Nursery and Restoration—in-situ & ex-situ
TIC has deployed several coral nurseries around Pulau Tengah using the latest research to determine the most successful techniques for our region. So far, the nurseries have been highly successful with up to 5cm growth per month.
TIC Marine Scientist measured the growth of the coral nursery at one of the sites.
Pulau Tengah has a history of bleaching events, with the most recent being recorded on May 2018, where a sudden increase on the sea water temperature, led to the death of the shallower areas of the reef, especially at Junior Reef. Coral nurseries can provide young corals for transplantation to rehabilitate areas of reef decline or physical damage, caused by bleaching events, storms, boat anchoring and/or snorkelers. The coral nursery acts as a temporary substrate for the fragmented (opportunistic) corals to grow before being replanted to damaged areas of the reef.
Sunrise Deep Reef
As part of our habitat restoration project we have 2 techniques for attaching coral; coral biscuits and cable ties. Each month we measure the height and the width of each coral fragment. This is to identify if the method we use for attaching has an impact on the growth rate, and to gauge when they are ready to be transplanted back on to the reef. Our Acropora corals will grow between 3 and 5 cm each month.
BAITED REMOTE UNDERWATER VIDEO STATIONS (BRUVS)
Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVs) are a non-invasive camera survey technique that is increasingly being used to assess marine and aquatic ecosystems throughout the world. They are mostly used to understand the abundance, biodiversity and behaviour of sharks and rays species in different habitats. This technique allow us to sample at greater depths and times than in scuba diver surveys; to sample species that are diver-shy; to efficiently survey low density populations of predators; and to accurately record fish sizes measurements. As a non-extractive technique, BRUVs have little impact on the ecosystem being studied, making this an ideal sampling platform to use in Marine Protected Areas. In a longer term, the BRUVs can provide a clear picture of the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas on the local populations of Elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) and other fish indicator species.
Nine BRUVs were deployed accounting for 9h30min of analysed videos. A total of 3,957 individuals from 71 taxa were identified representing 23 families. Of the 71 taxa defined, 61 were confidently identified to species level, and 10 were grouped to family or a higher taxonomic level.
Pomacentridae was the most abundant family (total MaxN = 530), being present in all the three sampling sites, followed by the Carangidae family (total MaxN = 453), not spotted at Sunrise Reef, and the Caesionids (total MaxN = 336), also observed in all sampling sites. Sharks, Carcharhinidae family, were present on all sites but in a low number (total MaxN = 4), while Stingrays from the family Dasyatidae were only recorded at the Jetty (total MaxN=7).
Our scientists are preparing the BRUV before launching it in the sea for monitoring marine life.