Did You Know That There Are Dolphins (And Whales!) In Langkawi?
"Har, Malaysia got dolphins one meh?"
We won't lie, that's the first question that popped into our heads when we were invited to spot some dolphins in the waters surrounding Langkawi recently.
Last week, courtesy of 1 Utama Shopping Centre, the SAYS team embarked on a two-day trip to the Jewel of Kedah with several other media to get up close and personal with the dolphins residing in the Andaman Sea.
It's a little-known fact to most Malaysians that marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises, and even whales can be found roaming in our waters. These creatures are collectively known as cetaceans.
According to MareCet, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the research and conservation of marine mammals in Malaysia, there are 27 species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and dugongs in Malaysia. The data is based on live sightings and dead stranded animal records.
In Langkawi, the most commonly-occurring species are Indo-Pacific finless porpoises, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, and occasionally, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Byrde’s whales.
Cetaceans may also be found along the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia as well as along the coasts of Sarawak and Sabah, particularly in the offshore waters of the South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Andaman Sea, and the Straits of Melaka.
Prior to the trip, we were told that dolphin sightings are not guaranteed due to the nature of wild marine mammals. It turned out to be our lucky day, 'coz we managed to catch a couple of dolphins pop up to the surface during our cruise!
Though it is unclear if marine mammals in Malaysia are in danger of extinction, they are still exposed to external threats that could endanger their population. That is where MareCet comes in.
Established in 2012 by cetacean ecologist Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam and marine science activist Fairul Izmal Jamal Hisne, MareCet is the first and only NGO in Malaysia that's dedicated to conducting extensive research, education, and creating awareness on conservation of dolphins and marine mammals.
The organisation's research on dolphins, their flagship project, has two outposts in Malaysia - one in Langkawi, and another in Matang, Perak.
Aside from research and increasing awareness, MareCet also works with the government and corporations to implement best practices and strengthening policies in regards to the conservation of marine mammals and the greater marine environment.
In support of MareCet's efforts, 1 Utama has contributed proceeds from their long-standing Go Green Community Project to further their cause of raising awareness and support for marine conservation issues
The funds, collected from the mall's Feed-the-Fish and Recycle-a-Bottle charity campaigns, will be used to continue MareCet’s research on marine mammals in Malaysia’s waters, marine conservation initiatives, and advocating for improved management of our nation’s marine resources.
Past beneficiaries of the campaigns include the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, HOPE (Help Our Penyu), Zoo Negara, and WWF Malaysia.
Now that you're aware of the existence of dolphins and marine mammals in Malaysia, here's how you can help efforts to conserve the creatures:
(i) Feed some fishes at 1 Utama's Rainforest
Head over to the Feed-the-Fish kiosk, located at the Lower Ground floor of the Rainforest, to buy fish food for RM1 per container. 100% of sales proceeds will be donated to charitable organisations.
(ii) Drop your plastic water bottles into the Recycle-a-Bottle collection bins
The bins, shaped like giant bottles, can be found all over the mall. Bottles will then be sent for recycling, of which funds collected will also be donated.
Earlier this year, we challenged ourselves to spend only RM500 throughout a three-day trip to Langkawi: