Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pale as Death

Pale as death is used to describe sickly people who are not in their 'pink of health'. I always thought that it was pretty gruesome way to tell someone they are unhealthy and may be nearing 'death'.

For one, I never thought that phrase can be used elsewhere, well, until now.

Over the weekend I went to dive in Redang Island. Redang for me for me used to be synonym with the Gipsy Divers and that was where the love started. The love for Redang wonderful and diverse underwater realm. And so when the Gipsies left for greener pastures I was left with no place to hang out in the idyllic island.

And so, it has been one and a half year since I was in Redang. I returned this weekend to rekindle my love for the place. I stayed at the village in the local 'homestay' and dived with Berjaya Resort Dive Centre. I did a total of 5 dives; one on the first day and four on the 2nd (however, the last can be considered as almost a non-dive as it is at the depth of 3-5m only).

We went to Holysand, Stinger Reef, ,Pulau Lima and Carmello's Cave (near Berjaya). The underwater life is as usual wonderful; more nudibranches and critters were seen during the dives. However, the state of the corals was depressing. And that brings us to the mortality issue.

Our first dive we visited Holysand, a sandy dive site without any corals. There was a newly sunk wreck and that was heavenly.

Only the second day I realise that there are obvious 'changes' in underwater Redang. Everytime, as I descent into the water I was greeted with patches of whites - ivory white corals i.e. DEAD CORALS. Some although still alive are showing signs of dying; pale and lifeless.


This table coral peripheries are white and 'bleached'. Is it dying?

Even the anemone were sickly looking. The bright red anemone was pale pink when compared to the bright colour of the tomato anemone fish. This is true for the other species, I have always loved taking photos of the anemone and its fishes and so I would know the difference.

The anemone is a very distinct pale yellow. I have never encountered this before and initially thought it was a different species.

I do not know what may be the cause but there are many possiblities that come into mind.

Can it be due to the global warming? During our dives the water temperature was 30-31 degrees higher 1-2 degrees when compared to 28-29 degrees 2 years back.

Or can it be due to the numerous resorts and development in the island? I can see some part of the island being cleared for 'development'; and this is despite the development BAN that was highlighted a year ago in the local news. For one,I saw a new 'posh' resort on Long Beach that can accommodate more than 300 people. And in the kampung there are so many 'homestays' that are sprouting to meet the local demands.

The newly opened Sari Pacifica

Or is it because the place is now so accessible that the number of people visiting and of course the amount of sewerage and rubbish have increased exponentially that the underwater ecosystem cannot adapt? Previously Redang is only accesible via jetty in Merang and visitors have to make prior bookings at resorts or home stays before they were allowed passage to the island. However, this changed in 2006 when the Syahbandar Jetty in Kuala Trengganu opened ferry services to the island during non monsoon season.

Whatever the reason I can only speculate but something need to be done. The recent government outburst on banning 'al-cheapo' visitors definitely is a joke. The huge and expensive resorts i.e Berjaya, Laguna and the new Sari Pacifica can at one time host about 1500 guests; still a huge quantity of people. And EXPENSIVE guests does not mean QUALITY guests; during one of my dives a diver staying in the Berjaya Resort (where a room would cost RM 900 per room per night according to their front desk) was seen ascending uncontrollably into the water destroying several corals in her path. It was such a tragedy!

Note: The dives for me were great and I had lovely photos of the 'living' underwater world. That will be put up in my next post.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Getting Wet Again!

In 6 days time I will be underwater again. It has been 6 months since my last dive. And it will be my 36th birthday when I am there. Whether this is my 6th time there, I don't think so... I have been there more times (I think).

I can't wait. My gills are dried out!