This remote island in Sabah is one of Malaysia’s best ecotourism spots


Imagine being on a small island resort that’s surrounded by crystal clear waters and white sandy seashores. In the morning, if you head to the mess corridor for breakfast, you’re greeted by heaps of fishes and different sea creatures swimming proper beneath the planks that you simply stroll on.

Every so typically you possibly can even spot a child shark or two … doo doo doo.

When midday comes, it is the turtles’ flip to make an look (particularly the Hawksbill and Green sea turtles). Add to that some seabirds stopping by the buoys for the people to take photos of with their trusty cellphone cameras.

Frankly, that’s the one factor your cellphone is good for at this place – there is hardly any cell community protection right here so that you’re “forced” to remain off your gadgets and luxuriate in your environment as an alternative.

Lankayan Island in Sabah is probably not as standard as some of the opposite islands in the state, nevertheless it is on no account an inferior one. It is positioned in the northeast and is half of the Coral Triangle area, the place, amongst others, 600 species of reef-building corals, over 2,000 species of reef fish, 25 species of seagrass and algae, seven species of big clams and 6 of the seven marine turtle species have been discovered and recorded.

The Coral Triangle is in the western Pacific Ocean and consists of the waters of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Lankayan – about 80km from Sandakan – is additionally located inside the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area or SIMCA, which covers 46,317ha of the Sulu Sea. There are two different islands below SIMCA: Billean and Tegaipil.

What’s particular about SIMCA, aside from being the primary privately-managed marine protected space in Malaysia, is that this is a “no-take” zone, which means no fishing, or removing of any coral and different marine life, is allowed in the neighborhood. Failure to conform will outcome in hefty fines and even imprisonment, or each.

On May 19, SIMCA was formally recognised as a well-managed protected space and was named an International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List website. This is the primary international recognition of its sorts in Malaysia in addition to the primary in the Coral Triangle.

This recognition is the outcome of the long-term dedication of a small crew of devoted of us who work for a non-public, non-profit firm referred to as the Reef Guardian, in addition to the native authorities, stakeholders and native communities.

Dr Chung (standing, fourth from left) and her Reef Guardian team members are responsible for managing SIMCA. — Photos: Reef GuardianDr Chung (standing, fourth from left) and her Reef Guardian crew members are chargeable for managing SIMCA. — Photos: Reef Guardian

Reef Guardian, which has been in Lankayan for almost 20 years now, was appointed by the Sabah authorities in 2003 to be, effectively, the guardians of the realm. A big half of what the organisation does is to handle, prohibit and management human actions inside SIMCA to make sure a balanced co-existence of ecotourism amid coral habitat/marine life.

It’s a singular collaboration and settlement between the federal government and two personal entities. The state or federal authorities don’t straight fund the conservation work at SIMCA, although, however Reef Guardian does work hand-in-hand with the Sabah Wildlife Department to ensure issues run easily and there is fixed enforcement of rules.

“The island belongs to the government, and they leased it to the Reef Guardian for 30 years. We then rented the island to the resort – this is pretty much how we have been able to sustain most of the conservation work,” explains Dr Achier Chung, the lead marine biologist for Reef Guardian who additionally manages and oversees all of the work accomplished by the crew. The lease is at RM60,000 a 12 months, and there is an choice to increase it for 10 years.

According to Dr Chung, vacationers who keep on the resort must pay a conservation charge of merely RM25 per particular person, per evening, which is collected by Reef Guardian. “The money from this is definitely not enough to fund everything as our operational costs can run pretty high at times. However, we do not have to pay for our accommodation or utility bills as these are all undertaken by the resort. Our food is also subsidised by them.

“But even though we get enough support in kind from the resort, we still need to do some fundraising programmes ourselves throughout the year to ensure that we can continue to do conservation work at SIMCA,” Dr Chung notes.

One of the fundraising programmes accomplished this 12 months was the Adopt-A-Reef Campaign, which noticed the participation of BALL Watch Malaysia. As half of its CSR efforts, the watchmaker adopted “Reef 38” in November, positioned about 4km from Lankayan. The medium-sized reef was found by Dr Chung herself, again in 2006.

“It is one of the most beautiful reefs out here and is great for divers,” she says.

The adoption, of course, comes at a value, and this cash shall be channelled to fund some of the work accomplished by the Reef Guardian, together with analysis and coaching. As half of the bundle, Reef 38 has been named “BALL Watch Malaysia”, no less than for one 12 months.

BALL Watch Malaysia recently adopted Reef 38 in Lankayan. — BALL Watch MalaysiaBALL Watch Malaysia lately adopted Reef 38 in Lankayan. — BALL Watch Malaysia

Evelyn Wang, basic supervisor of BALL Watch Malaysia says, “Through its efforts in documenting the positive outcomes of biodiversity protection and a well-managed and well-governed protected marine area, Reef Guardian proves that ocean conservation is a necessary investment of resources.

“Together with the commitment of local governments and organisations, BALL Watch is proud to play its part in ensuring the reefs within SIMCA are well protected.”

You can adopt a turtle egg nest at Lankayan for RM200. No, you don't get to keep the turtles. — MELODY L. GOH/The StarYou can undertake a turtle egg nest at Lankayan for RM200. No, you aren’t getting to maintain the turtles. — MELODY L. GOH/The StarUnsustainable fishing and tourism practices, amongst others, have put our oceans and marine life in such dangerous situations and we have to higher perceive how we are able to work collectively to guard them.

This is the place organisations like Reef Guardian come in. For twenty years now, the reefs in SIMCA have been protected against unlawful actions like fish bombing, a business fishing follow that destroys coral reefs and negatively impacts meals safety for the native inhabitants.

Dr Chung and her crew (which incorporates senior marine biologist Davies Austin Spiji and environmental management officer Leony Sikim) perform common checks to observe coral reef well being and file reef fishes in addition to coral variety. Almost all of the crew members are enforcement officers or “Wildlife Wardens”, accredited by the Wildlife Department. This signifies that they will reprimand anybody who breaks the principles in SIMCA.

Reef Guardian additionally does instructional programmes on-site, educating vacationers on the resort not nearly what the crew does, but in addition how everybody can play a component in guaranteeing our oceans stay wonderful for a lot of generations to come back.

“The IUCN Green List recognition was a milestone for us and shows that all our efforts have come to fruition over the years,” says Dr Chung. This recognition is not everlasting, although; in 5 years, Reef Guardian should once more show to IUCN that it has both saved to its conservation efforts or elevated and improved its work in the realm to stay on the Green List. If the organisation fails to do that, then it could be taken off the checklist.

“We are currently drafting a 10-year management chart, which is split into two five-year projects or plans. All marine parks must have a long-term management plan. For us, we will evaluate ourselves every two years to see whether we are moving on the right track, or whether we need to change our direction,” she says.

For extra info on Reef Guardian, try their web site ( You could make a donation to the organisation, or ask about their fundraising campaigns. There is additionally an Adopt-A-Nest marketing campaign, the place you undertake a nest of turtle eggs which are saved in the hatchery on the island.

Lankayan is a preferred spot for turtles to put their eggs, and if you happen to occur to be there throughout nesting season, you might simply witness a turtle laying eggs on the seaside. These eggs are then saved in the hatchery.

Once they’re hatched, the “babies” are instantly let loose into the ocean, able to face the world.

Putting in the hassle

The Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer Reefs special edition with the shark and reef image on the watch's face. The Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer Reefs particular version with the shark and reef picture on the watch’s face.BALL Watch was based in 1891 in the United States to handle a crucial want for timekeeping precision in the early years of railroad improvement. Over the a long time, the watchmaker has remained devoted to its philosophy of accuracy below opposed situations. Now, BALL Watch turns its consideration to a different surroundings going through adversity: The ocean. The Adopt-A-Reef Campaign at Lankayan Island will help the Reef Guardian’s efforts in coral reef analysis, marine conservation coaching and outreach programmes.

The firm additionally lately launched its particular version Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer Reefs watch, which evokes one to take care of the ocean’s well being. This particular version timepiece options two important marine symbols: the Shark and the Reef. These symbols characterize essential elements of a wholesome marine ecosystem.

Coral reefs are a posh construction that gives habitats to numerous marine species. Healthy reefs present fisheries and leisure actions resembling ecotourism. Meanwhile, sharks are the apex predator in the ocean that is important to keep up the ocean’s meals chain and the marine ecosystem stability. There are over 500 shark species worldwide, and plenty of face threats of extinction as a result of overfishing, unintended catching and finning.

Only 143 models of the Engineer Master II Diver Chronometer Reefs had been produced out there. The quantity represents the 143 species of shark in the world which are listed as endangered and threatened.

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