Monday, April 02, 2007

save our seahorses

I had fun, I learnt a lot and I'm gonna do it again!
In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, well, lemme tell you that last week, I volunteered for a program that involved looking for seahorses in the middle of the sea (sort-of, it's actually an estuary whr the river and the sea meet, but water is salty nonetheless), and noooooo, it wasnt in some exotic faraway country, but instead, in was in our own backyard called Pendas, Johor.

Who would've thought u could actually find seahorses in malaysia. I mean, from watching all those disney cartoons, u'd think these seemingly mythical creatures only exist in..... i dunno, anywhere but here. But if u were to go to, u'd know just how wrong u've been. Just like I was last year.

Anyways, last thursday nite, i took the last smiley bus from KL, and arrived in Larkin at 330am. Shivering from the coldness of the nite, I ordered coffee from the 24-hour McD and just waited for the first bus that went to Gelang Patah.

I arrived in Gelang Patah at around 830am and no, I didnt take the first bus, 'cause after Subuh, I slept in the surau. In Gelang Patah, I was fortunate to have Chee Kuang (he's the person that runs the show) come and pick me up.

Now, in case you're interested in volunteering, Mr. Choo Chee Kuang is the name that u must take note of. The guy's been working relentlessly to conserve the ecosystem in the Pulai River Estuary and instill awareness among the people of its importance. Why is that necessary? Well, go the sosmalaysia website, and you will know. Get me to explain it and u'd be more confused, or worse, u might even get facts that might turn out to be fiction. Hey, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure I know what it is all about . But since I'm not about to humiliate myself online, go and read it yrself.

Anyways, I stayed at the newly set-up research station for a nite and decided to go for the seahorse tagging and mapping on both friday and saturday. Btw, if u get to see the research station, do know that I helped in decorating it with the little ounce of creativity I possess, hehehehehe. No pictures though, as my very smart sister deleted everything on my SD card. Huh, trust her with an electronic device, and this is wht she'd do with it .

Well, friday was a real eye-opener. Did u know that when the tide is low, u can pretty much walk on the muddy land where the seagrasses grow. Cool! But again, no picture from my camera to prove it . But it is true. So, that's what me, bunch of hyperactive final year engineering UTM students, Cikgu Bakhtiar and of course Chee Kuang did. Due to the decline number number of the seahorses, they are extremely hard to find. 5 seahorses in one survey slot is a normal number. That day, I found none, but one of the UTM kids, Ho, who was the birthday boy of the day, alone found 3! Making the total number found to 6, which wasnt too bad, I was told. When the seahorses were found, they were tagged with some stuff, and released at the location where they were found, with the hope that they'll be found on the next session to determine their movement. This sounds a lot like the 'tangkap-tanda-lepas' technique we learnt in school. That was my first time seeing it in full-swing action, and not in some biology-class experiment.

Excited and unwilling to face the traffic, on saturday, I cancelled my plan to S'pore, and opt for another seahorse action. That day, the volunteers comprised of this one funny girl from UTM, 4 diving dude and dudettes and Cikgu Bakhtiar and yours truly. But too bad, the weather wasnt on our side, and the trip had to be cancelled. I felt sorry for those 4 people, but 2 of them stayed at the research station that night, hopefully they made it for the trip on sunday.

Me, on the other hand, had to leave that saturday nite itself for an audition in 1U. Think I probably dont have a chance at getting shortlisted as there were tons of other people. But tht's a different story.

me and the utm students, and abang karim; we had to ride a boat to get to the bed of seagrass bed where the seahorses like to live

tht's me holding the seahorse.

from left: me, the 4 divers, chee kuang and cikgu bakhtiar, at the jetty, stuck in the rain

Interested? Just register at sosmalaysia, and u will have to contact/or be contacted by Mr. Choo. Now, this guy is one heck of person. He is possibly the most genuinely kind person I've met in a long long time. He talks the talk, and walks the walk. The passion he has for what he does is badly-sought for those who are in my shoes (u know, MSc, PhD seekers like us). So if you think u wanna do some good, this is an avenue for u. I, for one, am deinitely going again.