Pulau Kapas - Coral Restoration Project

PULAU KAPAS is a small island located south of Kuala Terengganu. Approximately 5 kilometers from shore it is the most accessible island in Terengganu. The community on Pulau Kapas consist of small chalet operators and a diving center. If you are looking for a relaxing retreat away from mass tourism you will find Pulau Kapas the right place. Conservation is always in the heart of the island residents. These attitudes drives Ocean Quest to initiate its coral restoration project here. Corals in Pulau Kapas is known to be pristine in the early eighties until the on set of the palm oil plantations. Large areas of land is cleared on the mainland for the plantations and huge amounts of phosphate base fertilizer is dump on the land. The rainy season brought these harmful chemicals to the reefs of Pulau Kapas and devastation takes place. Today the plantations has matured and the rivers in Marang and the sea water in Pulau Kapas has returned to its ideal quality. Unfortunately it will take the corals much longer to recover due to poor larvae dispersal in the area. Ocean Quest sees this as a potential area for coral propagation. Our program will help the reef recover at a quicker rate.

Coral Restoration

Initiated on March 17th 2015, this is the most recent project undertaken by Ocean Quest. Responding to the calls of our friends from the island we took the opportunity to go there and assess the situation. In the flight we took with us water test instruments and kit. A couple of coral propagation kit and some dive gear. All the rest is sourced on the island. The trip is multifaceted, meaning that our trip there is not just to introduce coral propagation to the community there. Instead it is a trip that we could get feedback from the community on their interest in rehabilitating their coral reefs. We found to our surprise that all parties is excited and eager to get the project going. There is even involvement of a VVIP in this project. From end to end of the beach we hear people wanting to get involved. For that a introductory presentation on the first night and followed by and hands on demonstration on the second day of our stay. The turn out is beyond our expectation! 

Many young friends showed up at the demonstration and tried our coral propagation technique. Parents are also there to watch and supervise their kids. Coral broodstock is taken from the propagated reef just of the beach. Mounting substrates is also plentiful in that area.

Our educational program is participated by people of all ages. The children is most eager to lay their hand on the instruments and try out the fragging technique. There is no shortage of volunteers in our program.

The visitors are shown the research aspect and the propagation aspect of the program. We also did a round table discussion with the community to find out what they can contribute or help in making the project a success. Among the parties involved is Aqua Sport Divers, KBC Chalet, Koko Restaurant, Suria Link boat services and local people.

We also identified few key persons that will be our trainer and representative for the project. They are given a thorough explanation on how Ocean Quest work and also the coming of the Sea Shepherd Dive program. Their training shall begin in the post ADEX program on April 15th 2015. We will be on Pulau Kapas for five days following ADEX and those sign up for our coral propagation workshop shall be coming to Pulau Kapas for their training. Visit our booth at ADEX 2015, Singapore and find out more about this island.  

Recent Progress

We returned to Pulau Kapas on 15th April to monitor the first broodstock and to propagate more corals. We are delighted to find the corals we propagated in this little nursery has take foot on the live rock and it is branching. Just four weeks into the project there have been promising signs of coral growth in this area. With this promising progress we now take a step further to study the dynamics of the sea water at the nursery site and make plans for expansion.  A database is set up and maintained for research purpose. The education program is set to create more coral enthusiasts as well as helping the center generate enough fund for the project to sustain. Water quality instruments and test kits is brought to the for regular testing. The water is also monitored for pollutants and acidification. In few weeks growth monitoring shall start and it will add to more usable data for the nursery and our research. In addition the nursery shall be populated with at least twenty species of corals from the same locality.

Affiliation with Aqua Sport 

The Aqua Sport Dive Center and Ocean Quest affiliation is set to undertake the Pulau Kapas Coral Restoration Project. The affiliation include initial training for the instructors and provisioning of enough coral propagation materials. The center shall also receive the Coral Propagation promotional kit for them to gain more student in the coral propagation education program. One of the steps in our plans is to get the training center complete with the trainers, equipment and materials for coral propagation. This include affiliation of the dive center on Pulau Kapas in the program and to establish the house reef as a model nursery area for coral propagation training. The affiliation includes equipping the dive center with tools and instruments for propagation and monitoring. Intensive research shall take place in the nursery area to establish the most conducive platform for the project. Student internship is also made available to the local universities to take part in research on coral breeding.

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