Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ugly Side of Langkawi Mangrove Tours Part I - Mat Rempits

Tourists visiting Langkawi were told that their visit will not be complete without having experienced the island's magical mangroves. Very true. 
When a tourist arrives at Langkawi airport or jetty, the tourist will be handed with flyers after flyers for things to do on the island. Pick up any one of those flyers and these words will be staring at your face. "Mangroves Cruise"; "Mangroves Safari";"River Cruise";"Fish Farm";"Bat Cave";"Crocodile Cave" and the worst "Eagle Feeding". With such heavy promotions and raving about the mangroves, tourists would definitely be  looking forward to partake in it. Tourists can pick a boat from the Kilim or Tanjung Rhu jetty and will be enthralled by a two or three hour ride even without a guide onboard.
Langkawi was bestowed with the land and sea forests surrounded by prehistoric fossils and rock formations since some millions of years ago. Her mangroves were groomed well with the amazing karstic features of Setul formation that formed about 45o million years ago. Having such blessed natural heritage, Langkawi has became popular among the tourists that love to spend their holiday relaxing in the serenity of nature. The result of the high influx of tourists to the island has created many lucrative job opportunities for the locals. Over the years, many of the locals that were into fisheries and agriculture had embarked into tourism related jobs such as taxi, bus drivers, restaurant and boat operators. Then gradually, Langkawi has gained a higher status to become a UNESCO heritage site in mid 2007 and is now known as Langkawi Geopark. 
With the Geopark status, the amount of tourists coming in has doubled or if not, almost tripled. This benefits the island with such huge economic boom and yet I am witnessing the sufferings of Langkawi's flora and fauna that they have to bear daily.

Great supply of tourists resulted in mushrooming of operators particularly for the mangroves. The latest craze was the 1km traffic congestion at Kilim jetty due to tourists waiting for availability of boats to take them out. Welcome to the school holidays and festive season!

While there were lots of tourists waiting to go for the mangroves tour, boat skippers were often instructed to cover a route with various stopovers very quickly and to return to jetty for the next tourists pickup. As such, these boats will speed like F1 drivers in the mangroves so they can make as many trips as they can for a day. More trips=more $$$.
No doubt that mangroves are able to adapt in the soft unstable soil. However, constant slamming of waves created by the speeding boats will accelerate the action of mud to be washed off from the banks causing sediments run-off. The consequences will be erosion that had caused some of the trees to collapse. Sediments run-off can pose hazard to the health of the coral reefs that reside along the coastal areas. Mud carried out to the sea by the current will eventually be settled onto the reefs, shading the reefs from sunlight and eventually killing them. 

Speeding boats not only pose hazards to the mangroves forest but also to other users of the mangroves such as the slower boats and kayaks. There were incidents whereby speeding boats turning into the sharp corners had collided with other boats. Luckily there were no mishaps.
There was another  incident whereby a boat was almost tipped over by big waves caused by an overloaded twin-engine boat that was speeding like Michael Schumacher. Because these operators are now so used to speeding in the mangroves, this habit had been formed and  is hard to die. They even speed during the low tourists season.
This is what I find difficult for me to understand about locals here. Tourists make their way to Langkawi because of what the island can offer best. Langkawi will never be a destination for shopping even though it is a duty free island because people come here for nature.  If these operators are allowed to continuously behave like "Mat Rempit" in the mangroves, all I can say is that these locals are breaking their own rice bowls. Check out what Mat Rempit means.
The good news is that there are also responsible companies offering passionate nature guides that conduct nature excursions in an ethical manner. You will expect to pay more for these excursions, however, the investment you make will return you with educational and informative experiences and not just fun boat joy rides. Example of a company will be 
This is the first part of this topic of my blog. Coming next will be my viewpoints on eagle feeding, wildlife feeding and what influences tourists have over ecotourism.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Must Watch Movie Before 2010

Avatar - A truly remarkable movie reflecting the true events that had already happened or is happening around us today in this world. Is there such a hero like Jake Sully in reality? May be there is. Of course, Hollywood exaggerated how the hero won the battle. The story tells us how a Mat Salleh (white man) made his way into the indigenous rainforest tribes and being accepted into the tribe in a short span of time. Not only just being accepted as part of the tribe but made as a leader too.

In reality, there is really such a Mat Salleh that portrayed the Jake Sully character. And this Mat Salleh is Bruno Manser.

The Swiss guy who came to rescue the Sarawak's indigenous Penan people from losing their precious rainforest to logging. Bruno's anti-logging activities had become a pest to the Malaysian government and henceforth, Bruno became the public enemy number one. Bruno did not have the same fate like the exaggerated hero Jake Sully. He did not win the battle nor did he marry the daughter of the tribal head. Bruno became a wanted man and he either went missing or dead. Up till now, the world do not know the whereabout of Bruno. Bruno may not be as lucky as Jake Sully but Bruno did make an impact by drawing the world's attention on the deforestation of our precious rainforest. Read more on Penan's plight

Avatar, the movie, is a true reflection of us and how greed can turn homosapiens into murderers of native people just to harvest or rob the precious mineral rocks. This reminds me of a friend who told me about Congo and the killings for cobalt and diamonds. Read more on What the world owes Congo

In summary, Avatar  did leave some impact on me. It has sort of given me the inspiration to take a step towards being an activist. Me an activist? That will be a thousand miles journey before I can even get to the amateur stage for I have yet to discover this thing called "COURAGE". Never mind, I will watch Avatar again.

Ignore what the critics said about this movie and what good or bad stuffs that James Cameron had done. Just watch this movie. To the people who love development and destroying the rainforest, it will be a sin for you if you don't watch this movie.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Lucky Bat, perhaps?

A rather early morning bike ride had led me to into the paddy field between Nyior Cabang and Ulu Melaka. I usually ride on the main road but this morning I was curious to check out the off-roads in between the paddy field area. About less than 200 meters, I arrived at the T-junction and I couldn't decide which turning to take. So, I stop to look at the pipit birds on the ground while two Mat Salleh cyclists came from the other direction. I watched them cycled away towards the main road and I decided to go where they were coming from. About 50 meters, I stopped at the funny looking flowering plant (left).
Soon after, I cycled for another 20 meters and saw the netting set up by the locals. I was silently condemning these netting and then I noticed something black was caught on the net. It was still moving and immediately I knew it was a bat.

I always had my rescue knife with me whenever I am at work and not today...grr..grr...grrr.. I only had a set of bicycle toolkit and that is useless for cutting the net. I tried a sharp rock, didn't work. I tried untangling the net very slowly and only managed one side of it. The other side was badly entangled. I decided to rip  the net around it with my bare hands. Finally I did and not feeling guilty at all in leaving a huge hole on the net. 
I saw a barn about 100 meters away and a car parked on the other direction. Instead, I decided to cycle towards the barn to look for something to cut the rest of the entangled net on one side of its wing. While still carrying the bat on one hand, suddenly I remembered I left my bicycle toolkit at the scene and decided to turn back. As I was turning back, I decided to get human help by cycling towards the car.
I noticed two old gentlemen (Pakciks) were crouching on the ground looking at the field. I asked them for a cutter and showed them the bat. Both of them didn't have any cutter and one of the pakcik wearing the white cap (kepah) took out his lighter. Ah, a smoker. Probably this is the only time I appreciate having a smoker around. He gently burn off the strings and looked like he had done this before. The bat was in pain and trying to bite when removing the last bit that wrapped around the bony joint of its wing. I had to hold the other side of its wing and pull its  head so the bat doesn't bite the finger of the helper.  
Finally, it was released! The bat hobbled on the ground for a couple of seconds before it took off into the air. We watched it flew away towards the hill until it was out of sight. Hope that this bat will survive after the struggling and exhaustion. I was so excited of its release that I didn't get to take the full picture of the bat. Aiya! oh well...

This bat is identified as a common fruit bat. The closest species I can identify is it may be  Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus spp.). Fruit bats are important dispersers of many pioneer forest trees, thus aiding forest regeneration after disturbance. These fruit bats breed throughout the year in Malaysia, mainly when food is most abundant. 

Glad to know that are lovely local people around. These pakciks are the owners of the paddy field. After a quick chat with them, I thanked the bat saviour, particularly the pakcik on the left. I headed towards the barn and it was a good thing that I didn't go there because there were only cows inside.

Reference: A Photographic Guide to Mammals of South East Asia by Charles M.Francis

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Behind the Scene of Yummy, Crunchy Soft-Shell Crabs

When crabs grow larger, their shells or carapaces (or exoskeletons) will not be able to accommodate their sizes because their shells will not grow. They must remove the shells and grow a new and bigger ones. This process is known as molting. They molt the exteriors or exoskeletons and have soft coverings for a few days. At this stage, they are now soft-shell crabs until their soft coverings harden. 
In the wild, molted crabs are vulnerable to predators such as stingrays, larger fishes or even fall prey to cannibalism. During this stage, molted crabs will normally find shelter from the predators by hiding in between rocks. That is why it is difficult to catch soft-shell crabs in the net.
Ever wonder how your deep fried crunchy soft-shell crabs made their way to the restaurants and then onto your plate? If you think these soft-shell crabs are caught wild, please allow me to enlighten you.
Indeed that these crustaceans were initially from the wild either caught in the traps or fishing nets.  In the beginning, these crustaceans were juvenile or sub-adult crabs with their hard shells still intacted. Since these crabs were too young to be eaten like ordinary crabs, why not turn them to soft-shell crabs? To do the conversion, these juveniles will have to go through three stages:

Stage 1: TORTURE
Juvenile crabs' walking legs and claws are pulled out. Only the paddling legs remain untouched to allow them to swim around in the enclosure. There is a reason to the legs been pulled out.

   Legless male (left) and female (right) crabs . Note the swimming crabs in the tank.

These juevys will be in an enclosure tank with sea water and oxygen pump. They will be in there for frequent checks on signs on the areas where the legs were detached. As a juvenile crab begins to grow bigger, the areas of the detached legs will become swollen.
Note the swollen patches on the legless areas. With such indication, the juvenile crab will be going through molting stage soon, probably between two to five days.

When the juvenile crab has detached its hard shell, it must be removed from the tank within 24 hours. If possible, the earlier the better. If the molted crab takes too long to be removed from the tank, the new exoskeleton will harden and this will lower the quality.  A small translucent plastic bag is ready where the molted crab will be inserted. The tight space in the plastic bag will stop the crab from moving too much. The bag will be folded and then straight into the freezer. The frozen soft-shell crab will be stored in the freezer until more of its comrades follow its fate before being sold to the restaurants.

Harvesting soft-shell crabs is one of the fishery industries being practised in Kuala Gula, Perak. I am sure there must be other way to "harvest" soft-shell crabs in different areas. If anyone have witnessed other methods of process, do share with us.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

The 350.org Sign

I received a text message on previous Friday afternoon from Ai asking if we should do the 350.org sign at the airport fence. Me being blur as usual, I answered her, "What 350.org?" and Ai told me to check my email. After reading Ai's email and I started to google what is 350.org all about. Ooohhh.... ahhhh... how come I didn't know about this earlier?

So, the mission was on that night itself. Ai strongly wanted that night itself because the following day will be the last day of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) and there will be more people passing by the area. We gathered recyclable materials like aluminium cans and plastic bottles. Thank you M for that! We now know the purpose of these "usable rubbish" you have kept for so long.

Ai, M, a long lost friend from KL and myself headed to the airport where the Laksa Power stall is. That area was so filthy with rubbish like plastic cups, styrofoams "white coffin", food wrappers and etc thrown all over the stalls area. Extra stalls were set up for public spectators that wanted to have free viewing of the aerospace display.

Our initial plan was to stuff these recyclable items into the fence holes to create a 350.ORG sign. Ai thought that the holes for all similar fences would have the standard diameter or size. Not quite right. The holes at the airport fence were so small that an aluminium can cannot even be pushed through. Plan A aborted and we had to use the fence opposite of the airport. The holes were bigger.

Our work began in the dark. There was quite a heavy flow of traffic passing by and luckily no one stop to check on us. Phew!

Ladies at work...
In about half an hour, we did it! 


On the next morning, M cycled to the same spot to check and take a picture in the daylight. Half of the "0" was blown by the wind.

Later that afternoon, all rubbish were cleared and the 350.org sign as well. We wonder how many people would notice that. Well, I ain't an absolute "green person" and I surely had fun doing it. We were not guilty about adding on more rubbish to the site. The collector must be happy to have extra cleaned aluminium cans and plastic bottles to be recycled.

To learn more about the current and a very important conference on Planet Earth, read Copenhagen Climate Summit and 350.org.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monyet Cafeteria

When tourists in Langkawi want to see monkeys, where would be the best convenient spot to take them to? Telaga Harbour, of course.

A friend of mine  informed me  of the increased population of Long Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis)  on the road next to Telaga Harbour and here's the reason why.

There is a "cafeteria" setup for these macaques! This "cafeteria" may have been around for a few months by now.

Easy life for these macaques to have their daily feed. This encourages macaques to frequent this area often and the young ones were seen playing in the middle of the road. A potential hazard for road kill or even a hazard to the road users too.

I need not elaborate further on the consequences of feeding these macaques. It is a common sense and only sensible homosapiens would know the answers.

Here is more reading on morons on Planet of the Monyets.

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Could this be Langkawi's First Sighting??

Indera Suhardy yelled, "What is this bird? I have not seen it before??" All of us directed our binoculars to the movement among the foliage of the tree with fruits that looked like some berries.

Ku Ismadi and I joined Indera to have a glimpse of Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki) on the afternoon of 15th November 09. We got off the cars on the slope with the edge of secondary forests and the air was cooling with some breeze. Just within minutes we were lucky to have this flycatcher perched on a branch.
After Indera's exciting scream, we were looking at this unknown bird. The features I saw were the white vent with dark-scaled undertail-coverts, a very distinct white supercillium, yellow tarsus and a dark greyish upper part. Then another one came along except that it had a brownish upper part. We quickly checked the guide book and got confused. Ismadi had to leave us for work, Indera was thinking of a woodpecker family and I thought it was a dove family. Still clueless, we called for another sifu, Jimmy.

Two sifus, Indera and Jimmy cracking their heads trying to figure out the bird id.
The rain came and it was time to leave the area and the mystery unsolved. Besides the unknown bird and Mugimaki Flycatcher, we also recorded: Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica); Blue and White Flycatcher first-winter male (Cyanoptila cyanomelana); Asian Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella).

Later that night, I checked through my notes and opened up my guidebook. After a few pages of flipping thru, I was staring at the drawing which fits our observation. I immediately informed Indera and Ismadi that the birds were at least 90% Siberian Thrush (Zoothera sibirica) species.
Indera returned to the same spot on the following day and he excitedly confirmed that the birds were Siberian Thrush. Yeehoo!

Ismadi also returned to the same spot on the 17th Nov to obtain the evidence.

Both of them told me that this species is not in Langkawi's list yet. So, does that mean that this is our first sighting? I have submitted the sighting to Bird i*Witness Malaysia and the Malaysia Nature Society Birds Committee. Let's wait what they have to say then.

Siberian Thrush is omnivorous feeding on insects, worms and berries. The wonderful fact is that this species breeds in the coniferous forest type in Siberia. This thrush would migrate a long journey all the way to Southeastern Asia during winter. And guess what? It is the birds migatory season now!! Go get your bins out!

Thanks Indera for first spotting that birdie and Thanks to Ismadi for the pictures. I got my lifers :)
1. A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia by Craig Robson
2. Wikipedia

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There It Goes Again!

This is my second time catching it red-handed in stealing fish from the fish farm. The owner is not going to be happy. But we were very happy to catch the act of "this drama" which happened in Kilim Mangroves, Langkawi two days ago.

This water dog is known as the Smooth Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) was spotted snooping on the fish farm.

It checked out the first compartment but no luck. Then it noticed that we were watching. We sensed that it was deciding to flee or try its luck. Also I felt that it had identified our boat was with a bunch of tourists so it decided to continue its act.

It walked over to the next compartment hoping for a luck of meal.
It walked in a cool manner in search of its next meal. And it found one! It  dived into the compartment, came out with a fish in its mouth and took a dip into the water. All of this action was in less than 30 seconds and left me no time to catch the moment of it capturing the fish. What a cool smooth act! Yes, this smooth otter was faster than my finger tip on the shutter. Bah! I forgot to switch to the continous shooting mode.
Having a face like a dog, smooth otters are considered as one of our mangroves top predators. Not just in the mangroves, these otters were spotted along the coastline of the island. They mainly feed on fishes and are excellent hunters. They are usually shy and can be seen travelling in pairs. In these two years, I noticed a decline of smooth otters population in Tanjung Rhu mangroves. I wonder why?
Have they moved to Kilim in search of food? Being shy creatures, why did they resort to taking fish from the farm instead of hunting? Where do they nest? Have their nesting area been disturbed? Have there been any population count of these otters in Langkawi?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

A marine creature close to extinction in the waters of Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi

This is awesome! This was found on the beach of Tanjung Rhu yesterday! I got off the boat and spotted  this starfish in the water.

So, I picked it up to have a closer look.   

It had six long legs and two shorter ones.

Check out the size.

Below picture is showing the underside of the starfish. Notice the tube feet.
Here's a closer look at the tube feet. Check out the pointed tip. It was a poking feeling when I was holding it.                              
Not knowing much about starfish or sea stars, I did some search via the world wide web and found that it is very likely to be a Eight-armed Sea Star (Luidia maculata), a family of Luidiidae. This Eight-armed Sea star that I picked up with two shorter legs would very likely be a juvenile or sub-adult.

According to the locals, Tanjung Rhu once had a abundance of corals and sea stars many years ago. Those were the days before the five-star resorts were developed on this beach. A large amount of sand were dredged from the sea and thus reducing the population of these precious sea creatures eventually.

What did I do with this creature in the end? I got back to the boat and instructed my skipper to take me to the middle of the ocean. I said bye and dropped it there. I hope I did the right thing.
Read more about this from: Wikipedia, Eight-armed sea star of Singapore

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Horror!! Aliens Landed On Payar Island

M and I had nothing much to do on that day and decided to take a ferry down to Payar Island which is supposedly reputed to be the best coral reefs area in the West Peninsula Malaysia. Payar Island is the nearest getaway for cityfolks of Penang, Perak, Perlis and Kedah for snorkelling and diving.

Before we even got off the ferry, we were already put off by the operator's announcement on the timing for the sharks feeding. Instead of watching some sharks scavenging on the scrap food leftover by the tourists' lunch boxes, we decided to take a stroll.

We walked towards the other end of the boardwalk and we were shocked to see a few "alien aircrafts" have landed on the slope of the Payar Island hill.
Semi UFO or Half-golf ball looking chalet. Weird design when it is not even a golf resort.

Thru the "western and eastern wind", we came to know that the whole thing was supposed to be a resort built by by the former Kedah's head of government, Syed Razak bin Syed Zain Barakhbah. The resort was built and it was left abandoned before the operation started. The reasons could be due to strong opposition from other parties that were concerned about the environmental damage. Or possibly Syed Razak had a downfall.

So now that these existing structures are already in placed and what next? Well, since the state is under the new government, YB. Encik Mohammad Radzhi Bin Salleh, the Exco Tourism of Kedah state had approved the operation of 12-room resort. And the winner of the project taker is Raymond Foo of D'Coconut Resort. This information is taken from Langkawi's Marine Park Gets a Resort. You may also read from the comments that Raymond pledged to run the resort in a "green" way. How "green" can be achieved in this highly sensitive area? I'm afraid I'm a non-believer in a green resort. There would be some amount of impact and the only question is how much. What more can the impact do to a highly sensitive area like Payar Island.

Payar Island does not have vast flat areas. Behind the small beaches is the range of hill. That's why the stilted chalets were built on the slopes of the hill.

This is a high potential for sediment run-off during heavy rain and thus increasing sedimentation load on the corals. The increasing sedimentation load on the corals will lead to blocking off sunlight thus reducing the growth of corals.

Human waste will go down into the sewage tank below and eventually cause seepage into the underground. There is no sign of sewage or waste treatment area built. Looking at the geographical landscape of Payar Island, it is almost impossible to build one when there is a lack of flat areas. What if the tank is filled? Nutrients run-off from human activities will encourage algae growth and eventually competes with the corals for sunlight and living space. When corals die, it will be a domino affect, the marine fishes will eventually die.

Here are more hideous looking chalets:

We wonder if any recent an EIA was done for this project? Will our government care enough to do a thorough survey or health check on the corals before allowing the operation of this resort?

For further reports highlighted to the media: Letter to MalaysiaKiniEcoMalaysia.org

Sadly, the jewel of Langkawi is willing to be sacrificed for the sake of making quick monetary return instead of conserving what is left on our west coast and not realising that the rice bowl of the islanders will eventually be broken.

Eventhough it was supposedly a low season on that day, look at the number of people on that beach. I wonder what will be like on high season... eeewwwww...

Other references:
1. Yusri Yusuf's Thesis on Payar Marine Park
2. WWF's Lim lee ching "Lim, L.C., 1998. Carrying Capacity Assessment of Pulau Payar Marine Park, Malaysia - Bay of Bengal Programme.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Odonata or Something Else??

Check out Mandy's latest blog entry on this strange insect.

It looked like an odonata but it was some sort Fly. I have never seen such before. Or maybe I did and simply ignored it, taking it for granted.
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Kuala Gula Teeming with Birds and Wildlife (via Boat Cruise)

My apologies for being absent for three weeks. The apology is to myself for a start, at least. Besides the normal excuse of being extremely busy with work, I was away for five days at Kuala Gula Mangroves, Perak since Oct 19. This is my second visit to Kuala Gula for this year and a fantastic one.
We didn't get to go round the mangroves on a boat on the previous visit. On this second visit, we managed to hire a fisherman's boat with our chalet owner as our skipper for three hours on the third day. We set off before 8:00am and the tide was going out. The day was hot with blue sky.

Among the mangroves of Peninsula Malaysia, Kuala Gula is one of best spot to find assortment of kingfishers. Especially from October onwards, it is the beginning of the birds migratory season.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Common yet uncommon.

Stock-Billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) Eventhough this can be seen everywhere but it is still appealing. 

Black-Capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)

Kuala Gula also have plenty of White Throated Kingfishers (picture not taken) in the inner land.  They usually can be found along the main road and perched on the cables or poles next to the palm oil plantation.

Coming together with these migatory birds are the egrets and herons.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) on the mudlflat

Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) wading.

Grey Heron (Andrea cinerea)

Other waders were Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Plover family. Then, there was a bird larger than the Great Egrets. We were so fortunate to see this one.

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) or known as "Burung Botak" in Malay.

And of course, the top predator bird - the Raptor:

Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus). Juvenile on the left and Adult on the right.

Brahminy Kites are scavengers. Besides going for their own hunt, they are willing to wait for fishermen to haul up the net for assortments of seafood treats. One example can be seen here. 

Brahminy kites "natural" feeding. Wouldn't Langkawi can be a better place for eco-tourism if the relevant authorities would follow the example of Kuala Gula??

White Bellied Sea Eagles were around but not as frequent as Brahminy Kites and the Crested Serpent Eagle.

Besides the birds, there were other wildlife "treats" as well.

 A Long Tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) hunting for crabs on the mudflat at low tide. Can you spot her baby?

This family of reptile can be seen almost everywhere. This Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) here is enjoying its sunbathing moment. It was not bothered at all as we cruised past.

 A Mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) was caught by a fisherman and later was thrown back into the water. 

 Smooth Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) swimming shyly away from us.

Eventhough the skipper told us that the population of Giant Mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) had reduced in numbers, they still can be seen almost everywhere in Kuala Gula mangroves.

 Unidentified crab spewing out bubbles. I have no clue why is it doing that.

The unexpected treat was the DOLPHINS!! Our boat headed out of the tributary as we wanted to check out the opposite side. Thanks to the low tide on the other side, the skipper was cruising slowly at the river mouth. The river was still calm and it was quiet until I caught a glimpse of it.

 A dolphin's tail flipped over the still calm water.

 What dolphin is this? I need help to ID this dolphin. Its dorsal fin had a pink tip.

The three hour boat ride kept us busy looking thru the binoculars, jotting down notes and taking pictures. The wildlife here is simply awesome. The right timing did help us a lot. Because the tide was going out, this situation allowed feeding activity for the wildlife. On this day, 21st October 2009, the lowest tide was estimated to be slightly below 0.50m.

The abundance of wildlife in Kuala Gula owes itself to the minimum commercialisation for tourism. In return, the mangroves supplement great income to the livelihood of people in Kuala Gula. Most of the industries here are heavily dependent on the products from the mangroves such as shrimps, cockles, crabs and other sea related products.

  Flat short trees yet awesome

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