Behind the Scenes banner
Diver removing FAD from reef

Fish aggregating devices, like the discarded one this diver is removing, are man-made objects used to attract marine life for commercial purposes. Photo by Reef Check Malaysia. 

You probably heard that we recently made the decision to change up our Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) initiative to focus on three partners each year. One of our 2020 recipients, Reef Check Malaysia, has already updated us on some of the awesome things they’ve been up to!

This chapter of the larger Reef Check organization is dedicated to the sustainable management of coral reefs in Malaysia through monitoring, research and advocacy. Reef Check Malaysia will be using their initial Q4C funding to cover the cost of boat and dive tank rentals, as well as purchase equipment for their conservation expeditions.

According to Reef Check Malaysia’s senior program manager, Alvin Chelliah, the organization has removed a total of seven “ghost nets” from the water since January. These nets, which have been discarded or lost at sea, often trap and entangle marine life or get caught on reefs and smother corals.

Over the past couple of months, Reef Check Malaysia has also installed 12 mooring buoys at diving and snorkeling sites in order to avoid the use of anchors, which can damage coral.


crown-of-thorns sea star

A crown-of-thorns sea star feeds on coral off the coast of Malaysia.

In February, the organization removed 80 crown-of-thorns sea stars from two dive sites. This species, which is native to the region, poses a threat to reefs when its populations grow too large because they feed on coral. The cause of these outbreaks has not been identified, but it may be due to overfishing of the sea star’s primary predators, pollution, a natural phenomenon or a combination of these factors. Reef Check Malaysia conducts surveys to monitor the populations of the sea stars, and if their population is greater than what the reef can support, “surplus” individuals will be removed.

In addition, this organization recently removed a discarded fish aggregating device (a man-made object that attracts marine life for commercial and recreational fishing) and cleaned up a small beach oil spill in February.

Reef Check Malaysia has already accomplished so much this year, and they will continue to work on the aforementioned initiatives. They also plan on conducting training for community members who would like to help.

We can’t wait to hear about all of the other amazing things this organization will accomplish this year through our Q4C funding!