Thursday, April 06, 2006
I could be nosy or I could be homesick. Whatever it is, news about Terengganu grabs my immediate attention.
This caught my failing eye today.
It is laudable for the State government to put in place rules that can protect our common heritage. Friends sadly told me that some corals in Tioman were already destroyed due to careless enthusiasm of visitors and I am praying that Redang, Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Tenggol and Pulau Kapas will not suffer the same fate.
From my experience, flippers or kaki itik are not necessary for snorkelling. They help poor swimmers stay afloat and good swimmers cover greater distance with less effort. Flippers on their own do not indirectly destroy the corals. Stepping on them, even shod with just a pair of selipar jepung will break the centuries old corals. Stepping on corals while barefooted -kaki ayang instead of kaki itik will bring on painful and bloody poetic justice.
In Redang, most snorkellers wear a life vest or life jacket as a flotation aid. Kain batik jawa or kain pelekat, when suitably inflated can help you float too but not recommended for snorkelling. You can keep your watertight face-masked face underwater longer and easier if you use a life jacket. Then you can lie face down in the water effortlessly for hours and enjoy the coralscape. Flailing your arms and legs frantically will not be necessary unless you think that the nurse shark is after your family jewels.
To avoid stepping on corals, snorkel in deeper waters. The lady in the picture above should strive for greater depth. Above all, snorkelling should be a closely supervised activity. Like any tours, there should be a certified guide. The guide should be trained to lead snorkellers back to the shore or to the boat without stepping on corals.
The best way to see underwater corals is by glass-bottomed boat. This is something that should be introduced in Redang and other islands. Limit the area to feed bread to the fishes to shallower waters. Of course all rules need to be strictly enforced. It will be interesting to see how The No Flippers Rule fares out there in the South China Sea.