Monday, July 13, 2009

Garden under the sea

9:16 AM

As the largest island among the Redang Archipelago, Pulau Redang is not only made famous by its white sandy beach but also the world lying beneath this crystal clear water which, is not only paradise for marine life but also for natural lovers. Snorkeling or diving in the sea around Pulau Redang is a breathtaking experience where, the water surrounding Pulau Redang is home to some 3,000 species of fish, 1.000 of species of bivalves and 500 species of reef-building coral. Coral reefs are found in the shallow as well as the deep water around the islands. They are formed by gradual accumulation and transformation of tiny soft-bodied animals, closely related to sea anemones. One of the very common coral found in the waters of Pulau Redang is Staghorn corals. This reef-building corals are often found in shallow areas. They are green, brown or yellowish in colour and they provide shelter for a variety of small fishes and other sea animals. In the deeper water there are sea fans, soft tree corals, cup coral and several species of nudibranch. Some deeper rocks are covered with leathery soft corals with some soft tree corals, cup corals, tunicates and sponges. Large giant clams are often found here. Then on the sand itself are larger soft corals and sea fans, whip corals, table corals, mushroom corals, boulder corals, nudibranch, sea stars, cushin stars and sea urchin. Perhaps you will agree that the glory of this underwater garden will eclipse if without the existence of fish. Fish chasing each other in the coral or swimming in groups in the dark blue sea like a group of patrolling soldiers, making this garden as fascinating and as colourful as the colour palette of an artist. Shoaling fish such as jacks and snappers and rabbitfish, or groupers silver barracudas, clownfish, triggerfish, parrotfish, stingrays, hammerheads and Green turtles etc. is always surprises the divers. There have been a few times when divers have spotted a whale shark at Big Mount, one of the popular dive sites in Pulau Redang. And if you are lucky, you might spot a cuttlefish, squid and/or Eagle ray while snorkeling. The best location for snorkeling on this island is found at the southern coast around the Pulau Pinang and Pulau Ekor Tebu. Below sea level, you will get to see some of the more beautiful sea creatures including the batfish, angelfish, boxfish and butterfly fish. There are also many multicolored creatures that eat off anemone, sponges and bivalves. For diving enthusiasts, there are about 18 dive sites around Pulau Redang, each has its own way to surprise the divers. Conservation has been taken place by gazetted this island as one of the marine park in Malaysia in order to protect the marine life in this marine paradise. Activities such as fishing, collecting corals and marine life, and anchoring boats directly on the reef are prohibited within two nautical miles of these islands.
Diving: There are approximately 20 dive sites around these islands. Here are some of the sites: Mak Chantik: This submerged reef is the most popular site in Pulau Redang. Average depth is 18 metres. This reef supports many species of coral fishes including a number of stingrays and yellow tailed barracudas.Tanjung Tokong: Located at the northern cape of Pulau Redang, this site covers a large area. Average depth is 20 metres. There is a resident Napoleon Wrasse which guards this place. Tombstone: Large formation of limestone rocks form dramatic walls which rise from the sandy bottom 20 metres deep. These rocks look like temples and there are a few swim-throughs to enjoy in this area.Redang House Reef: The house reef is a small cape between two long beautiful beaches in Redang, where most lower budget chalets are. It is a popular snorkeling site as well as a shallow dive site. Parrot fish, sergeant major, and common tropical reef fish are abundant here.Big Mount: Claimed to be the best dive site in Redang, this underwater mount is under 35 metres of water with its tip at 18 metres. Some area are covered with gorgonian corals and black corals.Pulau Pinang (Marine Park): Being one of the most visited islands in Redang, this dive site is an excellent location for beginners. Average depth is about 12 metres. Dense coral growth can be seen in the shallow side. There is also a wreck which makes an interesting place for advanced students to explore their first wreck here.


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