A recap of last night's stellar Meet, Plan, Go! event is coming later this week, but in the meantime I thought we'd keep the travel inspiration going with this guest post from Daniel Quilter of Ecoteer.
The Perhentian Islands are renowned for being the most beautiful Islands in Malaysia and this title is warranted. The coral sand beaches are lined by palm trees on one side and fringing coral reefs on the other. If Robinson Crusoe was to be filmed they could easily use the Perhentian Islands as the set.
However below the turquoise blue waters not all is good. The coral reefs are dying fast, mainly due to the hordes of tourists which search out this tropical paradise on a daily basis. Corals grow at fastest just 15cm per year and with hundreds of tourists snorkelling and diving the coral reefs daily the breakage of coral is a big issue.
The same goes for the sea turtles of Perhentian. The beaches of the Perhentians are nesting grounds for two species of turtle, green and hawksbill. The number has been slowly declining since 2000. Tourists often seek out nesting turtles and if they get too close they will scare the shy creatures who will then go back into the sea without laying any eggs. If a mother gets to lay her eggs, they then have to evade being collected by poachers who consume or sell the eggs as a local delicacy.
It's not all bad news though! Reef Check Malaysia and Ecoteer both run projects in the islands and several of the resorts are protecting their own piece of paradise. Ecoteer run the community house which is open to the village children in the afternoon as a youth centre. Ecoteer international volunteers also go into the local primary school twice a week to improve the children’s English and to teach them about the environment.
The Ecoteer House is the base for Ecoteer and provides international volunteers with an opportunity to experience the village island life and to give back to the islands' environment. Reef Check runs extensive surveys to establish the health of the coral reefs in Perhentian.
One of the resorts who are doing a lot of good is Bubbles, pictured above. They run a turtle and coral conservation project aimed at protecting the nesting sea turtles and replenishing their fringing coral reef. The seas surrounding Perhentian are very easy for first time scuba divers and during the Bubbles volunteer program you can not only take your first course but the advanced and then become a qualified Reef Check surveyor.
The Perhentian Islands need you, otherwise Paradise will be lost!
You can find out more about these projects at www.ecoteerresponsibletravel.com.
Daniel Quilter has always been inspired by the words and footage of David Attenborough which has created a love and passion for helping this world. After he finished his studies in 2005 in Environmental Science Daniel went on an adventure to Borneo that changed his life. He lived and volunteered in Malaysian Borneo for eight months which culminated in him starting Ecoteer.com. Six years on and Daniel is still helping the nature and people of Malaysia.
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