Project : Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC) Sabah, Malaysia

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1 Project : Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC) Sabah, Malaysia Table of contents 1) Introduction of Malaysia 2) Malaysia Map & Location of MERC 3) Introduction of MERC 4) Activities of MERC 4.1) Active Research and Development 4.2) Marine Ecology Activities 4.3) Education Program 4.4) Volunteer Program 4.5) Current Research 5) Conclusion

2 1) Introduction of Malaysia Capital: Area: Language: Time: Currency: Religion: Climate: Population: Kuala Lumpur Malaysia covers an area of about 329,758 square kilometres, consisting of Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan north-western coastal area of Borneo Islands National language is Bahasa Malaysia, although English is widely spoken throughout the country, Chinese Tamil and other languages are also spoken. GMT+8 Ringgit Malaysia (MYR) Islam is the official religion, however, there are freedom of worship for other races such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Sikhism. Average temperature is between 21 C and 32 C. Humidity is high. Rain tends to occur between November to February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, on western Sarawak, and northeastern Sabah. On the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia the rainy season is April to May and October to November. 22 million. Multiracial country with three main races Malay, Chinese and Indian. Other races include the Kadazan, Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau, Peranakan Baba-Nyonya and etc.

3 2) Malaysia Map & Location of MERC

4 3) Introduction of MERC The Marine Ecology Research Center (MERC) focuses on the conservation and eventual rehabilitation of the coral reef and giant clam in Sabah. Coral reef ecosystems play an important role in supporting biological diversity, global biogechemical cycles, and the economies of many countries. Despite these values, many coral reefs around the world are being rapidly degraded. The coral reefs in Sabah, Malaysia are no exception. MERC is committed to rehabilitating and restoring this particular marine heritage area through education, active research and development projects. 4) Activities of MERC I) Active Research and Development Active research is being carried out in an effort to find ways to scientifically protect, rehabilitate, and restore the reefs and their keystone organism, the giant clam. The development of scientific research will support conservation and education that can be applied and implemented by the centre to achieve its goals. Tools to accomplish this program include: a) CORAL FRAGMENT GROWTH NURSERY This nursery, started in early 1999, facilitates the growth development of coral species fragments. Fragments of coral found "littered" on the seabed due to either human or natural impacts are brought to the centre for rehabilitation purposes. Coral fragments are placed on either ceramic or cement plates as new substrates for them to biologically cement to. When the coral fragments at the nursery establish normal metabolic processes, they are transferred to the ocean nursery for further growth and maturity. b) CORAL SPECIES RELOCATION: SURVIVAL AND GROWTH MONITORING The MERC bio-technicians transferred coral species from an area susceptible to destruction to a location within out boundary. They have transferred over 20 species thus far. Coral was carefully tied to rocks, tagged with genus, water depth, date of collection and conditions of surrounding waters. This data will help plan for the survivorship of the corals in their new environment. Adequate knowledge of the biology and ecology obtained from this relocation project will be of prime importance underlying reef restoration and seascaping efforts for the entire area.

5 II) Marine Ecology Activities a) MARINE ECOLOGY SEMINARS Designed for anyone who has an interest to learn more about plants and animals and their marine habitats. The seminar offers an introduction to the underwater world, specifically focused on the area's unique habitats. The seminar is comprised of an interactive presentation using the 17 aquariums and touch tank at the Centre; and explores the mangrove forest, seagrass meadows and coral reef via kayaking and snorkeling. b) REEF CHECK - CORAL REEF MONITORING PROGRAMME Endorsed by the United Nations, the REEF CHECK program is designed to encourage recreational snorkelers, scuba divers and marine scientists to help check the state of coral reefs. The program is also designed to expose visitors to the methods researchers use to investigate reefs, providing the information needed so that the reef can be managed in a sustainable manner. c) REEF CHECK - CORAL REEF FISH, VISUAL CENSUS This project allows volunteer scuba divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations in our bay. The data is collected using a fun and easy standardized method, and the results are submitted to the REEF CHECK headquarters. The MERC in-house marine biologist conducts and trains the visitors in identifying the fish species. d) ADOPT A CORAL PROGRAM This is a program involves the visitor in the coral seascaping project by transplanting coral fragments of dead coral or substrates. Only coral fragments that litter the seabed due to natural circumstances or human impact are collected and transplanted. Collected coral are tagged with recorded date and name planter. The planter can adopt the new coral transplant and will receive updates on the transplant growth every six months via .

6 III) Education Programs MERC staff have developed a Marine Education Outreach Program which has been designed to educate students from elementary school through college level for the Kota Kinabalu area. Through this education program, the center's goal is to give the communities of the region a base level of understanding of the importance of, and threats to, this fragile ecosystem. Tools for accomplishing this program include: a) CORAL REEF AQUARIUM DISPLAYS AND THEMES Marine aquarium exhibits, utilizing plants and animals "borrowed" from the reefs nearby. There are 17 aquariums that represent specific themes. A "real life" experience for the visitor is created through a series of aquariums simulating coral reef ecosystems. b) VIDEO PRESENTATION Educational video footage lends tribute to the diverse and enchanting coral reef organisms, their threats and the battle to save the world's coral seas.

7 IX) Volunteer Program This program is for individuals seeking to gain firsthand experience utilizing knowledge acquired through academic institutions. Volunteers are welcome from around the world. Thus far, there are two volunteers from California, USA, who have helped to develop the Marine Education Outreach Program and five college graduates from local universities have done their practical training by participating in coral reef field monitoring, giant clam spawning and general operations of the facilities and laboratories. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities check the volunteer section on the Contact Us page of the Gayana EcoResort site. Most recent volunteer was a Canadian graphic designer who rebuilt the MERC website, worked on print material, and assisted with coral transplanting and monitoring. X) Current Research - The role of the giant clam in enhancing stock of Zooxanthellae in reef water - Abundance of Zooxanthellae cells in the water column at four different reef sites in Malohom Bay - Coral recruitment at four different reef sites in Malohom Bay - Nutrients concentration in Malohom Bay - Coral fragment growth nursery - Coral species relocation: survival and growth monitoring

8 5) Conclusion As a nation that understands the vital of Environment effects to the world, project such as MERC is always encouraging and we all should support it. I personally visited MERC and found that it has been a very successful project as it save the environment while boost the tourism economy. I did learnt a lot about the ocean and I believe, the more you know about it, the more you are will treasure it. MERC is not just a project, but it also acts as a medium for the following: Human understanding on the beauty of marine and underwater world People can learn more about the habitat of the coral, clam and water living beings. Boost the tourism giant clam and coral adoption program are very attractive, it attracts many tourists from all around the world, thus improve the economy Opportunity for people to study and perform R&D on coral, clam and other under water living beings Increase coral population so that the future generation will be able to see what coral is and the beauty of it Coral will invite more livings in the water world and improve the ecosystem Thank you, and welcome to Malaysia!

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